The best bookshops: Ontario

Another Story BookshopLocated in Toronto’s burgeoning Roncesvalles Village, Another Story goes by a different storyline. You’ll find thousands of titles from small and independent presses on social justice, equity and diversity for children, young adults and adults, often supplementing current provincial school curriculum. There's a special discount program for teachers and librarians, and the shop’s staff are occasionally invited into local classrooms to give talks about book themes.315 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto416-462-1104AnotherStory.caBlue Heron BooksBooks come alive with a host of events at Blue Heron, including a camp program where kids cartoon in the shop’s new studio, learn about putting a book together, then make lunch at the cooking school next door. There's even more interactivity with readers as Blue Heron hosts themed parties and street festivals, which have included 100 Years of Anne of Green Gables and a Harry Potter event that once transformed downtown Uxbridge into Hogsmeade. Young customers pick books that are found in the “Young Readers Recommendation” section.62 Brock St. W, Uxbridge905-852-4282BlueHeronBooks.comBusybee Toys and BooksWhile this is primarily a toy store, the husband and wife team who run Busybee make careful choices to stock books for kids up to age 12 that pair well with toys on the shelves. You’ll find a great selection of activity books, craft books and even themed books that go with plush character toys (like Max and Ruby, Scooby Doo and Dora the Explorer) to help entice reluctant readers. 255 Dundas St. E, Unit 4, Waterdown905-690-2601BusybeeToys.caBooksmarts CanadaBooksmarts specializes in remaindered books, so if you read between the lines, that means new, quality books at a used price. Kids enjoy their own bright space to sit and read a book or play with wooden toys. Choosing a read is even more fun when educational toys or instruments by companies like Educo are nearby. You’ll see cooking books sold with accessories like aprons and kitchen playthings. Want a keepsake of your favourite book? Covers from the likes of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz grace T-shirts.Highland Hills Mall, 875 Highland Rd. W, Kitchener519-893-2665BooksmartsCanada.comElla Minnow Children's BookstoreFiver and Marshmallow, Ella Minnow’s two pet bunnies, greet patrons every day at this charming kids’ shop. They set the fun tone for what’s to come — besides shelves and shelves of books, children ages three to six can celebrate reading by booking a birthday party in the designated space, while infants and preschoolers participate in the shop’s story circles in the fall. In the summer, the store hosts a mini day camp for kids.1915 Queen St. E, Toronto416-698-BOOK (2665)EllaMinnow.caFundamentals Books & ToysToys may be in its name, but it’s the range of books for tots through to teens that gives this more than 20-year-old shop its true character. You can count on knowledgeable sta ff for advice on picture tales, board books, early readers and teen fiction. Kids will delight in special character costume events like Madeline, Clifford, Rupert and Spot the Dog.52 Ontario St., Stratford519-273-6440Gulliver's Quality Books & ToysDevoting half of its merchandise to kids and families, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at this shop. The store specializes in Canadian literature (with books about First Nations peoples and their culture as one speciality), but moms and dads can peruse through parenting books and resources; aspiring chefs will find cookbooks; and kids of all ages have their pick of games, puzzles and French books. They often host book signings, post book reviews and showcase new writers on their site.157 Main St. W, North Bay705-474-7335; 888-BAY-BOOK (229-2665)GulliversBookstore.com Kaleidoscope Kids' BooksOttawa’s only children’s bookstore carries a slew of titles for English, French and even a small selection for Spanish readers from infant to 18 years old. The focus here is on new titles and authors, in particular from the Canadian talent pool. Sign up for the shop’s newsletter to learn about books that the staff are loving, events they’re hosting (including author readings) and other neat facts about books. Better yet, take advantage of its gi ft registry so kids can get exactly what they want.1018 Bank St., Ottawa613-232-7406KaleidoscopeKidsBooks.caGet more of Ontario's best bookshops here >>

Photo: NickS/iStockphoto

Another Story Bookshop
Located in Toronto’s burgeoning Roncesvalles Village, Another Story goes by a different storyline. You’ll find thousands of titles from small and independent presses on social justice, equity and diversity for children, young adults and adults, often supplementing current provincial school curriculum. There’s a special discount program for teachers and librarians, and the shop’s staff are occasionally invited into local classrooms to give talks about book themes.
315 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto
416-462-1104
AnotherStory.ca

Blue Heron Books
Books come alive with a host of events at Blue Heron, including a camp program where kids cartoon in the shop’s new studio, learn about putting a book together, then make lunch at the cooking school next door. There’s even more interactivity with readers as Blue Heron hosts themed parties and street festivals, which have included 100 Years of Anne of Green Gables and a Harry Potter event that once transformed downtown Uxbridge into Hogsmeade. Young customers pick books that are found in the “Young Readers Recommendation” section.
62 Brock St. W, Uxbridge
905-852-4282
BlueHeronBooks.com

Busybee Toys and Books
While this is primarily a toy store, the husband and wife team who run Busybee make careful choices to stock books for kids up to age 12 that pair well with toys on the shelves. You’ll find a great selection of activity books, craft books and even themed books that go with plush character toys (like Max and Ruby, Scooby Doo and Dora the Explorer) to help entice reluctant readers.
255 Dundas St. E, Unit 4, Waterdown
905-690-2601
BusybeeToys.ca

Booksmarts Canada
Booksmarts specializes in remaindered books, so if you read between the lines, that means new, quality books at a used price. Kids enjoy their own bright space to sit and read a book or play with wooden toys. Choosing a read is even more fun when educational toys or instruments by companies like Educo are nearby. You’ll see cooking books sold with accessories like aprons and kitchen playthings. Want a keepsake of your favourite book? Covers from the likes of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz grace T-shirts.
Highland Hills Mall, 875 Highland Rd. W, Kitchener
519-893-2665
BooksmartsCanada.com

Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore
Fiver and Marshmallow, Ella Minnow’s two pet bunnies, greet patrons every day at this charming kids’ shop. They set the fun tone for what’s to come — besides shelves and shelves of books, children ages three to six can celebrate reading by booking a birthday party in the designated space, while infants and preschoolers participate in the shop’s story circles in the fall. In the summer, the store hosts a mini day camp for kids.
1915 Queen St. E, Toronto
416-698-BOOK (2665)
EllaMinnow.ca

Fundamentals Books & Toys
Toys may be in its name, but it’s the range of books for tots through to teens that gives this more than 20-year-old shop its true character. You can count on knowledgeable sta ff for advice on picture tales, board books, early readers and teen fiction. Kids will delight in special character costume events like Madeline, Clifford, Rupert and Spot the Dog.
52 Ontario St., Stratford
519-273-6440

Gulliver’s Quality Books & Toys
Devoting half of its merchandise to kids and families, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at this shop. The store specializes in Canadian literature (with books about First Nations peoples and their culture as one speciality), but moms and dads can peruse through parenting books and resources; aspiring chefs will find cookbooks; and kids of all ages have their pick of games, puzzles and French books. They often host book signings, post book reviews and showcase new writers on their site.
157 Main St. W, North Bay
705-474-7335; 888-BAY-BOOK (229-2665)
GulliversBookstore.com 

Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books
Ottawa’s only children’s bookstore carries a slew of titles for English, French and even a small selection for Spanish readers from infant to 18 years old. The focus here is on new titles and authors, in particular from the Canadian talent pool. Sign up for the shop’s newsletter to learn about books that the staff are loving, events they’re hosting (including author readings) and other neat facts about books. Better yet, take advantage of its gi ft registry so kids can get exactly what they want.
1018 Bank St., Ottawa
613-232-7406
KaleidoscopeKidsBooks.ca

Get more of Ontario’s best bookshops here >>
Librairie du Centre
A French book publisher and distributor, Librairie du Centre has volumes of French-language reading material and educational products for children, as well as parenting resources. If you can’t make it to their storefront locations, look for its products at school book fairs, or visit their website to shop online.
435 Rue Donald, Ottawa
613-747-1553; 877-747-8003
432 Ave. Westmount, Sudbury
705-524-8550; 877-453-9344
LibrairieDuCentre.com

Librairie du Soleil
Francophone or bilingual parents who have found it difficult to source good-quality educational French books will want to bookmark this shop. A packed children’s section has something for everyone, no matter your level of fluency. There are board books, storybooks, classic French literature, English books translated to French, and educational games, as well as a host of materials to learn French as a second language. Caregivers and educators will also find resources for children with learning disabilities.
33 George St., Ottawa
613-241-6999

Little Island Comics
If your kids can’t get enough of comics, you’ve come to the right place. This unique shop stocks thousands of graphic novels, manga and, of course, comics, for kids up to age 12. Once a year, celebrate Free Comic Book Day and grab a complimentary read. Kids can drop by on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. to create their very own masterpieces.
742 Bathurst St., Toronto
416-901-7489
LittleIslandComics.com

Mabel’s Fables
Captivating in-store displays make you feel like you’re in the middle of a fairy tale. Inside the shop a host of events welcome you — Lullabies & LapRhymes (for infants up to nine months); Storytime for Toddlers (two to four years); Mr. Bear Says Hello! (for 10 months to two years); Writing for Children; and language classes. Need a baby gi ft idea? The Mabel’s Fables Baby Basket comes complete with a child’s first library of books and music.
662 Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto
416-322-0438
MabelsFables.com

Parentbooks
The extensive list of resources offered here is for parents and professionals who work with young children. From planning a family and postpartum issues, to understanding gifted children and autism spectrum disorders, you’ll find a book and/or audio and visual aids to equip you with all the information you need to know.
201 Harbord St., Toronto
416-537-8334; 800-209-9182
Parentbooks.ca

The Bookery
You’ll be transported to ancient lands when you enter this vintage-themed bookshop (think antique bookshelves, leather chairs, soft buttery gold walls and Celtic music) housing gently used books, some new titles and a few rare classics. In between the nooks and vignettes of gi ftware and decor pieces, you’ll find old collectibles like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys books, as well as antique books in good condition. Don’t forget to say hello to Sir Readsalot, an armoured statue who guards the Bookery’s volumes day and night.
191 St. Andrew St. W, Fergus
226-383-2665
Bookery.ca

Words Worth Books
Babies are the star customers at Words Worth, where you’ll find a special selection of picture books and classics, plus plush toys, blocks and puzzles for little fingers. New moms will appreciate a breastfeeding-friendly environment and its Books & Babies program: A free event where parents learn how to pick the best books for their babes, and later enjoy reading and singing together.
96 King St. S, Waterloo
519-884-2665; 888-241-7546
WordsWorthBooks.com