Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Things I Love About The Bear and the Books

On our way north to New York last week, my husband and I and Little Miss Muffet made a stop at a lovely little bookstore in Hopewell, New Jersey called The Bear and the Books. We really enjoyed our visit, and I want to recommend stopping by if you happen to be in the area. Here are the five things I loved most about the store.

  1. Focus on kids' books. I haven't been to too many bookstores which are solely focused on children's books, so this was a real treat. There was no wandering around trying to find the children's section, and I didn't have to worry about Miss Muffet wandering off into adult romance and bothering customers who were trying to browse in peace. Being surrounded by children's books on all four walls made me feel very at home, and it made me feel comfortable coming into the store with a toddler.
  2. Great selection. The shelves of the shop were filled with so many great titles, most of which I knew, but some of which were unfamiliar. I had the impression, just from browsing the shelves, that each book had been chosen very carefully and very specifically, with the hope that just the right reader would find it. Not every book was necessarily an award winner, or even a book I would suggest, but there was much less fluff than the average bookstore carries, and a real sense of respect for the child reader as someone who is worthy of great stories. (I was also thrilled to see one of William Bee's Stanley books!)
  3. Friendly and knowledgeable owner. The owner of the store, Bobbie Fishman, was everything you'd want in a bookstore owner. She was welcoming, asking us about where we were from and wondering what Miss Muffet likes to read. We talked about Mr. Gumpy and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, as well as Richard Scarry and nursery rhymes. I could tell instantly that we were speaking the same language when it came to books, and that if I had needed a recommendation, she could have given me a great one (or ten!) It was obvious that she had a strong knowledge not just of the new and popular books, but of the tried and true favorites as well, and when she spoke of ordering books, I could tell she took great care with her work.
  4. Interesting displays.The window displays were fabulous! Books faced out toward the street as well as in toward shopping customers, and they included many interesting titles, some of which were known to me, and others of which I did not recognize but was happy to discover. The books were grouped thematically (many were about elephants) and they caught my attention right away, and repeatedly throughout our visit. Unlike Barnes & Noble, where displays usually focus on the newest and most popular materials, this was a display that had clearly been put together by a thoughtful person who wanted to highlight great books, regardless of how well known they were.
  5. Child-friendly environment. We take Miss Muffet to a lot of bookstores, and they vary in terms of how friendly they really are toward child visitors. This one is definitely one of the most welcoming toward kids. There were toys for Miss Muffet to play with, and board books were at her eye level so she could easily see what was available. The owner spoke to her as well as to us, treating her as her own little personality with unique interests and abilities. The only drawback to the welcoming environment is that Miss Muffet didn't want to leave and we had to drag her out in tears.
The Bear and the Books is located at 45 West Broad Street Hopewell, New Jersey. The store's hours are available on its website, along with contact information. You can also see a photo of the inside of the store, as well as an image of the sweet and simple sign which hangs outside the door. If you are passing through - or if you are lucky enough to live locally - this is a great place for children's book lover to visit with kids, or on their own.

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