"Founded in 1980, Books of Wonder is New York City's largest and oldest children's bookstore and the city's leading specialist in children's literature."
A Children’s Sanctuary (and yet developed gallery)
The second site for children’s books I would like to introduce you to, is Book of Wonders, located on 18 West 18th St., New York, NY. This store is completely dedicated to children and teens. So one can imagine they have a huge selection of children’s illustration as well.
In this large (for an independent Manhattan bookstore) shop the majority of the space is dedicated to book stacks, as expected. But in addition to the books there are: a reading area, a children’s play area with stage, a collection of historic illustrations and rare books in museum-style display, and a large open space with gallery walls. I imagine the last space is ideal for their reading and event calendar. The gallery space still reads as vacant and in construction giving the whole store an unfinished look. While this prevents the sharp, polished effect the shop aesthetic seems to be aiming for, it does speak to great potential.
"We will only offer you the best versions of the classics and the finest in newly created children's books."
What they have in the Stacks
What makes this shop really interesting is in the way they have organized their genres. Of course, there is by age, but also by ‘classic’ and ‘contemporary.’ For example, across from Babar is They All Saw A Cat. This face-to-face experience allows you to see the styles that parents and grandparents remember and compare them to the newest styles and stories. It encourages a balanced library of literature and equally celebrates the great authors and illustrators as well as the newest trends or newcomers.
"Books of Wonder is one of the nation's leading dealers in old, rare, out-of-print, and collectible children's books."
The aesthetic of this shop seems to be in transition, but the content is supurb. If it were not slightly weird for a late-twenty something to spend an hour reading books without a child in a children’s shop, well, I would certainly do just that.