My fondest memories of my kid’s early years are snuggled up in bed reading hundreds of books to them. Reading books to kids is their first introduction to the art of story telling and helps develop their imaginations, listening skills and a lifelong love of books and reading. When you read to your kids you’re telling them it’s your special time, it’s quality time just between the two (or more) of you. I still recall running from one room to the next due to varying ages and stages of books and bedtimes and making up stories when we ran out of books, some of which my kids still ask me to recall to this day! Did you know that over 50% of children between the ages of 3 to 8 say that their favourite thing to do with their parents is to read? Franklin the turtle and Charlie and Lola were rock stars in our house and many years on I still cannot part with them.
Thankfully for Bangkok kids their are many options and opportunities to both buy English books in Bangkok and go to various places for story telling events, here are the best, happy reading!
Chain Bookstores in Malls
If you’ve ever been in a mall in Bangkok, you would have already visited one of many chain bookstores. The most ubiquitous of them all is Japan-born Kinokuniya which is home to an astounding collection of English and Thai language fiction and non-fiction books, comics, magazines, and some of the most expensive notebooks in the city. It only has 3 branches in Siam Paragon, Emquartier and Central World with Paragon being the more well stocked and popular branch. Each have a great selection of kids books and small quiet cosy reading corners, the staff are very friendly and sometimes host book launches and story telling events. They are without a doubt regarded as the Bangkok bibliophile’s mecca.
Asia Books are now nipping at Kinokuniya’s heels with over 20 branches nationwide with a very impressive selection of kids and student learning materials. They offer an excellent kids and students loyalty student programme and will order books from overseas especially. It’s also a must-visit for those who prefer their books big, heavy, and with lots of pictures. That’s not to say they don’t stock great literary titles – but their branches aren’t a bad choice if you’re looking for coffee table books.
B2S carries mostly Thai books, but they have recently opened a branch in Central Ladprao, B2S Think Space, which is large enough to house the bibliography of PG Wodehouse and the ever-prolific Haruki Murakami. They have recently opened ‘play and learn’ spaces in some of their larger stores and you will find a B2S in nearly all shopping malls throughout Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Section 1 of Chatuchak Weekend Market houses one of the largest, low-priced English kids book sources in the city. Here, you can find many different types of kids books, from hardcover picture dictionaries to paperbacks and comics. Prices are cheap, starting from as low as 20 baht a book, and you can still bargain, especially if you buy multiple items. The selection may seem hit-or-miss but for those with time and patience, you are sure to find a gem or two under those dusty piles.
Dasa Book Café
Dasa Books is between Sukhumvit Soi 26 and 28 is a Bangkok book legend! They offer a good selection of used books in a cosy setting. Its kids’ books are housed in a little nook on the 2nd floor and I have literally had to drag my kids out of here! Titles range from hardcover picture books to pre-teen paperbacks and some real little gems can be found on the staked shelves dotted everywhere you look. Dasa will also buy or exchange books, so if you’ve got books you no longer want, bring them with you.
Neilson Hays Library
Here is another Bangkok living legend, the Neilson Hayes Library houses a great Children’s Corner filled with a diverse selection of new and classic titles, as well as reference books, for kids of all ages. Kids can curl up on a beanbag chair or sit at one of the small tables and read aloud together – no one will mind! The library hosts a themed Saturday storytelling session each week for the younger set, with reading, snacks and crafts.
Bangkok Christian International Library (BCIL)
An independent, privately funded library, the Bangkok Christian International library has a sizable collection of faith-building publications in a home-like atmosphere. The library offers a welcoming children’s room with books and toys, and it hosts a children’s storytelling event every Saturday that is open to the public.
The Reading Room
On the top floor of a three-story shophouse, The Reading Room is a funky space that serves as a contemporary art library and archive. There are regular talks, screenings and workshops that are relevant to art and contemporary culture. Some offerings may be of interest to older teens.
TK Park at CentralWorld
Part of the government’s nationwide effort to foster a love of learning in children and youth, the huge Thai Knowledge TK Park is located on the 8th floor of CentralWorld, offers an unconventional library, as well as an impressive range of multimedia resources. English titles are available, and kids can settle themselves in the reading hive or other comfortable nooks to read. A valid Thai ID card or passport is required for registration.
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