My kids love books. Like, really love books. And any trip to the library or bookstore is always a huge adventure for my 4-year-old. So, on a chilly Tuesday morning, we made the trek to our closest Barnes & Noble for the free story time. I have to say - I was pleasantly surprised. My kids really liked it.
We arrived about five minutes before it started at 10:30 a.m. There were four little benches and a half-dozen cute little chairs for the kids to sit on. Emma took a seat right up front and the baby stayed back with me and we sat on the floor - until she decided that she'd like to try a chair, too. There were about ten kids waiting patiently. Well, as patiently as kids ranging from 1-4 years old can be.
They made a quick announcement over the loudspeaker that story time was about to begin and the audience members suddenly became all wide-eyed and smiley. The baby was getting antsy just as the story reader, Adam, walked out. He sat down and welcomed all the kiddos. It was sweet.
Before he got to the book, he asked the kids to sing a few songs. It got pretty loud as they belted out, "The Wheels on The Bus," "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." They all loved it. In fact, this may have been the best part.
The book was about a family that went on a trip and found some adventures along the way. It seemed a bit long for the little ones listening - and the reader, despite being very animated, did start to lose some near the end - but overall it was a hit. I was actually shocked that the baby stayed interested for a bit.
One thing that bothered me just a bit was the music playing over the speakers, but I suppose they have to keep the actual shoppers entertained. I doubt the kids noticed, anyway.
Once story time was over, the kids were given some pictures and crayons to color. When her picture was finished, we took Emma to the Lego table that is in the middle of the store and played for another 20 minutes or so. We had the table to ourselves.
We don't go far without some kid-friendly-eat-anywhere-anytime-snacks. The baby nibbled on some of her puffs and Cheerios and a few other kids were snacking as well and the staff didn't mind at all. They do sell some snacks and little milk and juice boxes in the coffee shop area - which sells Starbucks. Bonus.
Emma picked out a book to buy, one of the many about her newest "Star Wars" obsession, and we loaded back into the car and headed home. We were only in the store for about an hour and a half, but it was nice.
The store was clean, they have a bathroom, the staff was very nice, and it was free. The best part, by leaps and bounds though, is continuing to keep the kids interested in reading.
Most locations have various story time events on weekday mornings. You can find more information with a full calendar at barnesandnoble.com.