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Day 101: Booktopia…A Perfect Place for Kids

Just a few of the books and toys

Recently, I found myself looking for a gift for a boy who was turning eight.  He is a typical 8-year-old and enjoys electronic and computer games as well as Legos and fancy contraptions.  But he also likes to read and build things so I thought I would try to find a ‘use-your-imagination’ kind of gift versus the kind that need batteries.  But where do you find a really good kids book or imaginative toy?  Definitely not at the big chain stores.

Then I stumbled into Booktopia located at 6912 Arlington Rd near Strosniders hardware store.  The minute I walked in the door, I felt like a little kid again!   I wanted to sit on the floor and flip through the beautiful, brightly colored books adorning the shelves.  I wanted to play with the games and toys.  Booktopia offers everything from the old classics like Charlotte’s Web to wonderful new children’s literature.  There are lots of games, toys, dress-up clothes and animals for all ages.

The owner, Nina, was present when Brian and I stopped by and she described how she chooses each book and item in the store with care, selecting only those that are non-violent & that spur the imagination.  She also takes care to avoid books that exhibit kids behaving badly, as so many kids stories do today.  She is truly passionate about her store and the selections she makes for the customers she serves.


The story of Booktopia began once upon a time when Nina’s son was 16 years old and getting ready to soon graduate.  Nina was sad that her son would be leaving for college and she didn’t know what she would do with herself – as so many of us feel when the “chicks leave the nest.”  She realized after talking things through with her family that was she loved most were books and kids and voila, Booktopia was created!

The new store opened in 2003.  Today, Nina’s dream and inspiration is a wonderful little place for the kids in our town to dream, imagine and play and get a new treasure to take home with them.  If you have never been there before, consider stopping by on Saturday, April 16th from 2 – 5 PM.  As part of Bethesda’s Literary Festival, Booktopia will be holding a Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Day with visits from 6 popular authors/illustrators.  Get your book signed, ask questions about writing & publishing or hear your favorite author read their story.

By the way, the gift I selected for the 8-year-old boy, called “imaginets” was a big hit!  I was shocked when he actually left the electronic game laying aside while he enjoyed building interesting creations with his new magnetic toy.  Thanks Booktopia!  ~Amy

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