Los Angeles is home to a multitude of specialized bookstores, from those oriented toward horror and mystery to others with more practical focuses, like cookbooks. Follow columnist Clea Wurster as she explores the many niche literary interests the city accommodates.
I found everything I was looking for at Children’s Book World on Pico Boulevard: tranquility, inspiration and a nice break from the dry 19th-century literature that’s been all too present in my spring quarter syllabi.
Approaching week nine I grew sick of having to sift through dense texts, so I decided to venture to the Century City children’s bookstore for some lighter reading.
As I turned the knob and entered through the narrow door, I felt less like I was entering a store and more like I was visiting someone’s home. Immediately after stepping into the shop, two employees offered to help me find what I was looking for, but I opted to simply browse the towering, wooden shelves instead.
Other customers gladly took advantage of the help. The employees asked customers questions about their children’s personalities and selected a handful of titles to meet their expectations.
I initially walked into the center of the store, noting two other rooms opened by wide doorways on either side, but I chose to veer left first, stumbling upon books for elementary-aged children. Brightly colored novels lined the shelves along the walls and several caught my eye.
One particular text jumped out at me from the bottom shelf. The cover was a hazy blue, which blended into a soft, sunset orange. Two hands adorned with henna and roses led to the title “Amal Unbound.”
The book cover reminded me of what it was like to be in elementary school – to feel drawn toward a novel and excited to read it. This one told the story of a young girl who dreamt of being a teacher but faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. After snooping through a few more intriguing texts, I walked back into the center room.
Around the room, I found titles for younger kids that seemed to be mostly didactic. But despite their instructional purposes, the illustrations on a few were breathtaking.
My favorite was called “What Do You Do With an Idea?” and told the story of a young boy whose perceptions changed the world. The illustrations depicted an idea as a small, golden egg with a crown. The charm of this quick read almost made me want to pursue an authorial career in children’s literature.
Finally, I moved on to the last of the three rooms and found books on various subjects like “animals” and “plants,” which were arranged without any clear organization. I spent less time in this room because there wasn’t quite as much to see. Instead, I found myself wandering back to the larger, more visually intriguing picture books and away from the informational texts.
After looking around for a bit, I recognized a few of my childhood favorites such as “Where The Wild Things Are” and “Olivia” – a series of books about a young pig who constantly goes on adventures and gets into trouble while wearing a ridiculously cute red dress.
I smiled to myself as some younger customers searched for titles with their siblings, seeking the seemingly more ambitious novels with more words. Hopefully they’ll find books that will evoke nostalgia the same way this store’s offerings did for me.
After lingering longer than was necessary, I decided to head back out onto the street. Although I hadn’t purchased any of the books, I left feeling a whole lot lighter and more prepared to take on the stress of finals.