While you won't find a double latte or red velvet cupcake at Children's Book World, readers will wander among its more than 80,000 titles, educational games and book title–emblazoned T-shirts and wonder why they ever shopped that chain megastore. This neighborhood book shop is a throwback to a time when expertise mattered more than a 10 percent discount. Owner Sharon Hearn insisted that two concepts define her shop. “We wanted the feel of library, which means depth of categories of books, so that no matter what topic a child is looking for, he could find something here. We wanted a knowledgeable staff, able to find the book you came in for and to offer suggestions for a complementary read.” Hearn has accomplished that and more. On a recent visit, when asked for a suitable book for an 8-year-old, dog-obsessed boy, staffer Nikki spent several minutes pulling titles about dog-centered stories. While a request for a roller coaster–themed work of fiction momentarily stumped her, she ultimately suggested Bedknobs and Broomsticks, ” 'cuz a flying carpet is like a carnival ride, right?” Satisfied, the 8-year-old left with five other books, including one featuring a dog detective. While it's easy to steer a child to the day's popular read, here, it isn't only best-sellers that Hearn carries. “If we think a book is important but not widely read, we still stock it. For instance, the book Friends by Rosa Guy, for the Young Adult reader; we might sell one a year; but it has so much heart that I still keep it.” Perhaps, as important as it is to purchase a new title, when those gently or once-read volumes are not challenging enough for your child, Children's Book World will take them off your hands to share with programs and centers where books are less plentiful. “It's important for children to have their own books, and one they choose for themselves,” Hearn explains. The book-recycling program was started when Ann Martin, author of the Baby-sitters Club books, was doing an in-store reading. As part of her participation, she required that the shop incorporate a charitable aspect, so Hearn set up a donation bin. Today, low-income children visit the store's adjacent storage facility to choose their special book. Books are also donated to teachers of low-income students, and to homeless and domestic-violence shelters. “We use the Golden Rule philosophy: Is the book in the condition you would accept for your child?” Hearn asks. So, no writing, no torn pages, no coffee-stained covers. Drop your books off on a selected Saturday and your child can enjoy an hour of storytelling! 10580 1/2 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A. (310) 559-2665, childrensbookworld.com. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

—Karre Jacobs

LA Weekly