This year, my husband and I have an untraditional gift idea for our kiddos for Valentine’s Day. They are 5 and 8 years old. We usually get them some type of toy, but this year, they will get gift cards to a local bookstore. I know, I know. It doesn’t seem like they’ll like that opposed to a new shiny toy, but I am confident in this choice. Every time we walk through bookstores, they say, “I want this, I want that.” But if you were to ask them if they want to go to a toy store, or to a bookstore, they’ll choose the toy store every time. I think when we first give them the gift card, they will groan, but once we get there and they are armed with money to choose what they want, they will be thrilled. I am not sure which store we will choose yet, which prompted me to research local bookstores. There are some great choices! Some of them I had never heard of until today. Below is a list of the places I scouted out. 

Powell’s Books-

Although Powell’s Books was created in Chicago, Portland is famous for “Powell’s City of Books” because it is the largest “used and new” bookstore in the world. Located in Downtown Portland, this store is massive and has tons of things to peruse. There are tons of choices for Valentine’s books, but I liked this vintage “press-out” Valentine’s book the best.

Kinokuniya Books-

I had never heard of this until today. This store looks amazing! It is a Japanese-based store in downtown Portland with a collection of Asian books, stationary, and other goods. The store itself is beautiful, boasting a café that serves authentic Japanese tea. I was excited to see there are “Studio Ghibli” goods available. Another item that caught my eye was their “Punilabo” section. They are adorable pouches and cases for pens, pencils, and other school/work items.

Green Bean Books-

Currently open for scheduled and curbside pick-ups, Green Bean Books is located on NE Alberta street in Portland. The store sells books and audiobooks. They are also locally famous for their “Alberta street animal art tour.” Between 16thand 29th street on NE Alberta, they have planted little animal art displays in certain places. There is a map that can be used to find all the stops along the way!

A Children’s Place Bookstore-

This store is in NE Portland on Fremont St. The bookstore is open for “browsing by appointment” if you call them to schedule at (503) 284-8294. They offer books, games, toys, and cards. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t have an option to peruse their goodies. But to learn more about the store, here is the link. Fun fact: they are the oldest independent children’s bookstore in Portland.

Annie Bloom’s Books-

Annie Bloom’s is located on SW Capitol Highway in Portland. They are also only offering curbside pickup, delivery, and online shopping. They have a wonderful selection of goods including books, puzzles, art supplies, games, chocolate, soaps, candles, and an array of journals. They also offer Annie’s Bloom tees, sweaters, hats, and bags for those who are big fans of the store. As a wannabe writer, I really like their “Wreck This Journal” journal. The journal is full of suggestions to “wreck the journal” by poking holes in the paper, adding photos and then defacing them, and other funky ideas for writers to boost creativity. I have never heard of such a thing! The idea is to get writers to get over their “fear of the blank page.” This could be a cool idea for teenagers who are developing an interest in writing. Here is the link to their wonderful journal section.

Mudpuddles Toys and Books-

These stores (one in Sherwood and one in NW Portland) are currently open for shopping with a limited number of guests. As their name suggests, they sell toys as well as books. They have a section on their website marked, “Valentine’s Day.” Under the section, there are cute gift ideas such as Valentine’s hot chocolate on a stick, multiple books about love, and lots of heart-themed/pink/Valentines-based toys.

Maggie Mae’s Bookstore-

This store is in Gresham. Although they allow walk-in customers, they only allow two families at a time because it is such a small store. The website recommends that people make a browsing appointment on their website. A $10 deposit is required to book the time, which goes toward your purchase. They are working hard to ensure they sanitize before and after each family’s visit. I commend them for being so cautious. This bookstore has a lot to offer. They offer a variety of monthly book subscriptions. They also offer books, games, toys, puzzles, totes, and other goods.


Portlanders are known for their love of books. It is great to try and develop an interest for reading in children. I am so excited to let our kiddos go wild with their bookstore gift cards! I cannot wait to see what they choose. We utilize the library hold pickup option often, but it will be thrilling for them to choose books to keep. Although we can grab kids books from any big store like Target, it is great to support the smaller businesses when we can. I will definitely be supporting as many of these bookstores as I can. Best of luck to you all in exploring these delightful stores. 

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