Story times are the ultimate ace-in-the-hole for moms, dads, babysitters, and anyone else in charge of corralling little people for an extended period of time. Consider: Most of them welcome drop-ins and run on a regular basis; generally they are indoors, which is helpful come those hellishly cold (or hot) days; and — most importantly — they are good for our little ones’ brains, and pretty much a universal kid-pleaser. And! All over the city (and beyond!), there are readings geared toward toddlers, toward babies, toward the musically inclined, toward the kids that don’t want to sit still, toward arty kids, etc, etc. In short, there’s something out there for all of us. And to boot? They tend to be cheap. Or even better … free. In short: Story time is basically magic.
And here, dear reader, are a whole bunch of spots around the city where you can tap into that magic.
(P.S. At press time all times/days reflected reality, but to be on the safe side, always smart to check the sites before you go!)
The story time: Barnes and Noble on Rittenhouse Square has, as you almost certainly know, a totally awesome children’s section in which reading, playing, and hanging out are encouraged. What you might not know is that the bookstore also hosts a weekly drop-in story time for kids and their grown-ups.
When: Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. — plus, there are scattered special story events you can find on the B&N site every month.
Oh, and also: You can see the whole advanced calendar of story times — including book reviews for the stories read — on the site. Also, you can grab a snack beforehand at the little Starbucks cafe on the second floor.
The story time: The Free Library of Philadelphia is — with its many outposts — basically the king of the story time, offering everything from specialized baby and toddler times to preschool hours to pajama story times to story times with arts and crafts to music-themed stories … the list goes on. Chances are very good you can find one near your house. All are drop-in.
When: Check out the extensive calendar: There are tons of times and a ton of days.
Oh, and also: The library site makes wonderful suggestions about books for babies, toddlers and small children, as well as offering smart ideas to get some early literacy habits going in your house. It’s a wonderful resource.
The story time: The drop-in storyplays at Grad Ho’s and Fairmount’s Little Theater are a mix of stories, song, puppets, movement and more. (You can read more about Wee’s love for the fab Little Theater here!) It’s all generally geared toward kids from birth until about five years.
When: There are storyplays for all ages happening all the time: Check the calendar for specifics!
Oh, and also: How fun is this? For between $25 and $35, you can pick a brown-paper wrapped bundle at the theater — inside that bundle is a mystery stack of age-appropriate books for your newborn up through three-year-olds.
Cost: $10 a drop-in — or you can buy a 10-class card for $80.
The story time: The magical Smith Memorial Playhouse hosts a weekly drop-in story time, geared toward kids 5 years and younger.
When: Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.
Oh, and also: Need we even say it? Post-story, you can opt stay on and play in the playhouse or the playground when it’s seasonable. (As if you have a choice.)
Cost: Free … but you can always make a donation.
The story time: Head House Books — that favorite locally owned indie Queen Village/Society Hill bookstore — hosts a story hour for littles every week.
When: Every Friday at 11:15 a.m.
Oh, and also: Head House’s back area is great for kids, with wonderful children’s titles, and room for little ones to settle in and hang without being in the way of other patrons. (Plus, did we mention? Locally owned.)
The story time: The Please Touch Museum has twice daily (!!) story times inside their awesome Story Castle.
When: Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; Sundays at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Oh, and also: Every so often, there are special stories, featuring cameos from literary luminaries like, say, the Very Hungry Caterpillar (in March).
Cost: Story time is free after admission, which is $17 for kids and adults (and free for babies under 1 year). If you’re a member, it’s all free.
The story time: Linvilla Orchards offers a weekly story (animal- and nature-themed, of course) and a craft — all aimed at preschoolers.
When: Tuesdays, from 10 to 11 a.m.
Oh, and also: The bakery makes apple cider donuts every day, y’all.
Cost: Story time is free!
The story time: Morris Arboretum offers a story time a couple Tuesdays a month that’s outdoors in the nice months, and indoors in the cold ones, from 10:30 to 11 a.m.
When: Check the calendar for the exact dates. They ask that you register in advance.
Oh, and also: There’s also currently a tot yoga class that’s interspersed with storytelling and songs.
Cost: Free with admission, which is $16 for adults, free for kids under 3 and $8 for kids three and up.
The story time: The Barnes Foundation offers a couple of storytimes a month … art-themed, naturally.
When: You’ll want to check the site for sure, but it’s generally Thursdays at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.
Oh, and also: The museum also offers family tours and family art activities that you can also reserve space for online!
Cost: Tickets are free, but you have to go online to reserve them!
The story time: Momo’s Tree House, the adorable Old City toy store, has a storytime for the littles once weekly! Check the site to see what the book will be!
When: Wednesdays at 3:30
Oh, and also: You can check out all the fun toys after story time! (Win!)
Cost: Free. (That’s if you can get out without buying a toy …. )