A Bookworm’s Guide to Kansas City Bookstores

It’s no secret that I love to read. I’ve turned my husband in to a reader in our years together, and I’m so glad that my four year old has inherited that love, too. I embraced technology a few years ago and acquired a Kindle reader which is awesome for travel, but at the end of the day nothing replaces the feel and smell of a paper book.

Just like with the decline of print media though, finding a good locally owned bookstore in Kansas City has gotten more difficult in the last ten years or so. If you grew up a child of the 80’s and 90’s here in Kansas City, I bet you remember the holy grail of children’s bookstores, Reading Reptile. My mom would surprise me with a trip to Westport every once in awhile and our first stop was this enchanting world of books and fun and friends (and a huge live Iguana!). Reading Reptile moved to Brookside several years ago and then sadly closed for good in 2016. The owners are pursuing a really awesome new children’s literature project though, so stay tuned!  

Although no true children-only bookstores still exist in Kansas City, my family and I have found some great alternatives around town.

Rainy Day Books

Rainy Day Books is the only independently owned seller of new books left in Kansas City, and they really have it all. Visit their beautiful space in Fairway for an amazing kids section, sign up for their newsletter for great events, author visits, indie book lists and a huge variety of cookbooks. I adore reading cookbooks. Seriously, try it! It’s a great brain break from a serious memoir or intriguing mystery, and you learn so much about the chef or cook when you read their memories and their recipes.

Hanging out outside Prospero’s Books on 39th Street.

Prospero’s Books

By far my favorite haunt for book treasures, Prospero’s has three floors of used books and seriously, they have something for everyone. My daughter has spent many hours tucked in to the sweet old-fashioned school desk in the children’s area reading about new adventures. If you have taken up the “everything old is new again” hobby of collecting vinyl, they also offers a great selection of vinyl. I love the third floor of the building, with its charming architecture and some of the best views you can find of the 39th street corridor.

Barnes and Noble Zona Rosa

So, given the choice I will always give my business to a locally owned bookstore first. Unfortunately, up in the Northland we don’t really have any locally owned bookstore options.  And there are days when you really just need to smell paper and ink and decent chain store coffee. And I have to say, the Zona Rosa Barnes and Noble fits the bill. They have an huge selection of marked down books right on the main level, a fun kids area with a good book selection, weekly story times (that include a coupon for a $4 kids meal!), and hey, if things get too real, they sell Cheesecake Factory cheesecake in the cafe. Sometimes Mama needs cheesecake. It’s all good.

My daughter and I spent a lot of time at Barnes and Noble when she was a baby and I needed out of the house!

Flea markets and antique stores

When I started compiling my spots to feature, I had to think about all of the places I buy books, because, like I mentioned, the choices are limited. And what I realized is that I buy so many of my books used from quirky little places like the La Bottega in downtown Parkville. Several individual booths make up a large and very well done market full of treasures, including children’s books, novels, romances and the best collection of cookbooks.  

Used Book Sales

I love Facebook for the fact that I find all kinds of cool community events that I would never have known of otherwise. Last fall my daughter and I spent a cold, rainy Saturday morning at the Dogs by Debin used book sale fundraiser. We brought home a whole bag full of books and treats from the bake sale, and our money went to support a great cause. Plus we got to go home and curl up with new to us books, which on said cold, rain Saturday was pure heaven. The local public libraries also have used book sales throughout the year too.

Little Free Library

Not shopping perhaps, but I love reusing things, and there’s nothing better than inheriting a well loved book from a fellow reader. Little Free Library allows people in the community to take or share a book with a neighbor. When my daughter outgrows books or receives duplicates for gifts we stock our local Little Free Library with them, and sometimes take home a new book or two to enjoy for ourselves. Their website has a locator tool so you can find one near you. 

Happy Reading!

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Robyn grew up in Overland Park and has been a Kansas City Northlander for almost fifteen years now. She and her husband Brad live near Parkville with their three year old daughter Claire and their rescue dog Mario. When she’s not working full time in the legal world on the Plaza, she is either at home losing a continuous battle with the laundry and the clutter, exploring all of Kansas City with the family, reading a good book in the backyard hammock, or looking for a good excuse to bake ridiculously lavish desserts. She is a diehard sports fan who loves cheering on the Jayhawks, Royals, and her alma mater Drake University Bulldogs, and loves playing kickball, softball and attempting to do yoga at home with Claire.