Children's Book WorldWhether you celebrate Channukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or none of the above, if you have children on your shopping list, there’s a good chance you’ve made your way to one of the last remaining bookstores on the Westside. Children’s Book World on Pico near Rancho Park is the last of its kind.

I had reason to go there yesterday and was happy to see it bustling with shoppers because it’s the kind of place we want to stay in business. With so many consumers logging on to purchase their gifts instead of visiting a store in person, these sort of family-owned, small and local businesses seem like they should be on life support. Luckily, from what I experienced, this assumption was proved wrong and we breathed a sigh of relief that good stores, specifically good book stores, albeit few and far between, are still alive and well in Los Angeles.

First of all, a computer screen can not replace the benefit of a getting your questions answered by a knowledgeable human. The folks who work at CBW have probably read everything in the store and are familiar with just about every genre of children’s literature.  Not only that, but every person who has ever helped a member of my family seem to have an innate sense of what a child of any age might like. While books are the main focus, its inventory isn’t limited to just the written word. There are a handful of educational toys, kits, stuffed animals, puzzles- even sections for parents to browse while kids are searching for their treasures.

Children’s Book World is the kind of neighborhood place that you’ll usually run into someone you know while shopping and often will find yourself catching up with other customers instead of rushing in and dashing out with your purchases.  My father was recently dumbfounded as to what to get our three sons for gifts. I suggested he take them to Children’s Book World, ask them to describe to the people who worked there what their interests were and then set them loose. They returned, literally giddy with excitement, with what they found: secret spy glasses, a decoding kit, tutorials on how to sketch cartoons and yes, a handful of books to go with it.

This is the kind of store that gives our neighborhood its character and every time we patronize it instead of going to one of the huge discount stores, we’re keeping it alive and part of the Rancho Park family of small businesses. And the fact that there’s free parking in the back and they’re one of the last places I know who’ll still gift wrap, well that deserves appreciation, too.