Beijing has limited choices if looking for kid-friendly bookstores or libraries. However, they do exist, such as the Bookworm, but don’t rule out the National Library of China, which has a special Children’s Library.
There are no English books immediately obvious at the Children’s Library, but for a child learning Chinese and a parent wanting someplace different and quiet to take their kids, it’s worth exploring. And best of all, free.
The typical library rules of being quiet are strictly enforced and there are no toys besides a massive globe, but kids can still run around and explore the titles on the shelves and sit and read them or look at the pictures in the magazines.
The rest of the library is definitely not kid-friendly (guards stand over study areas to maintain order) but the lobby is worth a look as is the escalator that goes directly to the fourth floor and gives an incredible view of the main reading room.
There are a few other book options that I haven’t explored like the big foreign language bookstore at Wangfujing and a big bookstore in Zhongguancun, as we all as a kind of library started by foreign moms called Peekabook. There are lots of bookstores in the student hangout of Wudaokou but not sure of children’s book selections.
The library is next to the Zizhuyuan (PurpleBambooPark) and is easily accessed by the aptly named National Library subway stop on Line 4 and by multiple buses (and taxis). Bring your and your children’s passports to get a reader’s card (needed for entry).
Jenny Lin is raising 3 boys in Beijing while working as a writer/editor. You can follow her @twinlins or keep up with her sporadically updated cross-cultural familial adventures at beijingmom.blogspot.com