Children’s books (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

These days, children are constantly surrounded by the sights and sounds from computers, televisions, smart phones and other electronics. But to expand a child’s imagination, there is nothing quite like a good book, and kids who are read to from the start are more likely to become successful adults. California’s capital has many great bookstores offering novels, rare books, how-to manuals and numerous volumes about health, the arts, spirituality, education, gardening, history, cooking and more. Check out these stellar Sacramento-area businesses for the best reading materials for kids.

The Book Den
Friends of the Sacramento Public Library
8250 E. Belvedere Ave., Suite E
Sacramento, CA 95826
(916) 731-8493

Public libraries provide a wonderful selection of reading materials that can be borrowed at no cost, but it is difficult for kids to give up a beloved book when the due date rolls around. Luckily, Friends gives parents the chance to pick up books that the kids can hold onto forever. The nonprofit organization operates the Den, selling pre-loved books for pennies on the dollar. The huge children’s section has every kind of book, magazine or comic that a kid or teen could want. There are abundant materials for the adults in the family as well, including fiction, books on tape, current and past best sellers and non-fiction. Proceeds help fund library services, the bookmobile, education and literacy programs and more. The Den is not open on a daily basis, so check the website or call for details.

Trent’s Bookshelf
8139 Elk Grove Blvd., Suite 130
Elk Grove, CA 95758
(916) 683- 2665

Trent’s is a first-rate place to find used and new books for everyone in the family. There is a vast selection of children’s books, with new titles being rotated in continually. The owner’s website shows an up-to-date list of every book that is for sale in the store, a true benefit to busy parents. Recent books have included “An Anteater Named Arthur,” “Baby Angels: Board Book” and “My Very First Book of Colors.” There are books featuring popular characters like SpongeBob, Superman and the Power Rangers, as well as vocabulary and skill-building books. Other options include “I Wonder Why Soap Makes Bubbles: and Other Questions About Science,” “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg and “The Boot Chronicle a Pirateer Adventure.”

Related: Best Local Authors In Sacramento

The Avid Reader has a special spot for kids (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

The Avid Reader at Tower
1600 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 441-4400

The Avid Reader is an independent bookseller, located for more than 25 years across from the Tower Café. The owner and staff are community-minded and host book clubs, poetry readings, art happenings and book signing events. The children’s section features classic and current books for every age group from tiny tots to teens. The little ones will love the stories and illustrations in books like “Bunny Cakes” and “The Daddy Book,” and middle-school kids who love animals will want “Gee Whiz: Book Five of the Horses of Oak Valley Ranch.” Recent releases include “Mousetronaut Goes to Mars,” a space adventure written by NASA astronaut and New York Times best-selling author Mark Kelly. Tweens and teens who are fans of “The Hunger Games” will want “Grasshopper Jungle” by Andrew Smith and Marie Lu’s new Legend novel “Champion.”

Mother Goose Store
3218 Riverside Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 447-1733

This quaint shop is packed to the rafters with an amazing collection of reasonably priced children’s books, toys, shoes, clothing and games. Items may be new or gently used, but the friendly and welcoming owner picks out each piece as carefully as would any parent. The shop, which often has a selection of kids books on a sale table outside, is very clean and well organized. Mother Goose offers additional and greatly appreciated perk to parents; there is a baby-gated play area where children can be safe and occupied while mom and dad shop.

J Crawford’s Books
5301 Freeport Blvd., Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 731-8001

New, used and rare books of every genre are available for purchase at this independent Hollywood Park shop, and the children’s section is particularly good. The small business is owned by the Crawfords – grandparents who know a lot about how to keep kids engaged, involved and entertained. The store is a comfortable neighborhood hangout, a friendly and welcoming spot for adults, young people and occasionally even a friendly dog or two. The Crawfords are happy to chat about favorite books and stories, and offer excellent recommendations for other reading materials that you and the kids might enjoy.

Related: Best Book Clubs In Sacramento

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people. Her work can be found at


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