PLEASE NOTE: This post was originally written in 2011. While it should still give you a great idea of the overall experience, it is also possible that some information may be outdated. We encourage you to check out their website for the most up to date information, especially for details like hours and pricing. If you notice something in this post that needs to be updated, please feel free to leave a comment with the updated information, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to make the updates. Hey, it takes a village, right?
If it’s a Tuesday or Thursday morning and you happen to be walking around my hometown of Glastonbury past the empty playgrounds, deserted parks and stroller-less sidewalks, and you’re thinking to yourself: gee, where are all the little kids? Well, I’m here to tell you that they are all at the Story and Craft Hour at the local Barnes & Noble. Yup. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. sharp it’s time for songs, stories, games and crafts with Miss Jane. As you can imagine, Boo and I just had to go and see what all the fuss is about.
First stop, the Barnes & Noble Café. I’m usually a grande kind of gal, but somehow the barista talked me into a venti today. (Side note: I later learned from a source whose anonymity I will protect that a venti has the same amount of espresso as a grande, just more milk. Shocking news. But I’ll tell ya, that psychological extra boost of caffeine really got me through the morning!)
Once I am fully caffeinated, Boo and I make our way to the back of the store where the adorable children’s section is.
Look! It’s Eloise! She’s my favorite.
We’re there a little early, so I am able to take a few pictures of the area before the kids start streaming in.
I’m guessing this is where the big event will take place.
Just a hunch.
I wonder what the craft project is today.
Unfortunately, Boo is super antsy so I acquiesce and give him the book he has been pawing at to keep him from screaming. Which, as any mom who has or has had a teething baby knows, also means I have to buy it.
So off we go to the front of the store to pay for the newest addition to our home library. Boo starts screaming when I take the book away so the nice lady at the checkout can scan it. I almost laugh out loud when she asks if I need a bag for it. Um, no. I hand the book right over to Boo who is instantly happy and back we go just as the kids are starting to fill in the rows of chairs and benches.
Boo is having his own private story time with his new book.
Then it’s time for plenty of songs and rhymes. Many of the kids are clearly regulars as they know all the words and sing loudly (so adorable). Miss Jane also leads the group in some hand clapping routines. Boo LOVES to watch those. Because it’s back-to-school time, the “story” centers on several puppet characters who are going back to school and the things they need to take with them. (As far as I could tell, there wasn’t an actual story—as in one from a book—read during this story hour. But there were a couple of times I needed to skedaddle to the back of the children’s section with a fussy Boo, so
I quite possibly could have missed one if it was short. In any event, the kids were totally into the puppet story—answering Miss Jane’s questions, adding their own thoughts—so I guess that’s what matters the most.)
After the story, Miss Jane announces that the kids will be decorating their own school “bags” today for the craft activity.
Ah. This picture makes much more sense now. Those must be the “bags” stacked up there.
Too late, I realize I am standing (with my giant stroller) between the kids and the craft supplies, so I prepare for an ambush. But these kids are not the ambushing type. They are polite. They wait their turn. They let their adults help them get things. I am impressed.
Later, when I have the chance to catch up with Miss Jane for a few moments, I find out that a majority of the kids are school/preschool age. So most of them are aware of
mainstream group etiquette like raising their hands when they want to speak and
not mowing down another child in pursuit of the glue sticks. But there are also
quite a few much younger children still at that blissful stage where they are
content to sit quietly on mommy’s lap and watch (with thrilling interest or abject fear, I could never really tell with Boo) the commotion going on around them. In any event, Miss Jane makes it fairly clear that the children who attend need to be well-behaved. Translation: this is not an occasion where you can let your toddler careen around screaming and pulling books off the shelves (good thing I never took Boo out of the stroller). I ask her if the format changes at all when school starts, thinking that once the older kids are back in school, the event might be geared more toward children Boo’s age (i.e. pre-preschool). Nope. Between the preschool kids who don’t go to school every day and the many half-day kindergarteners in the area, apparently the audience
stays pretty consistent even when school resumes. Which is actually a big positive for those kids (and those moms!) who seem to really enjoy themselves during the 45-60 minute event.
Of course, Boo doesn’t quite have the vocabulary to join in a group discussion. And he wouldn’t know what to do with a glue stick (that’s not true, he’d eat it; even worse). But the event is FREE, and there are far inferior ways to spend a morning than strolling around a beautiful bookstore, sipping a latte and stopping in to hear the chorus of little voices singing, “If you’re happy and you know it.” Bottom line? I clapped my hands.
Story and Craft Hour with Miss Jane
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
175 Glastonbury Boulevard, Glastonbury, CT
(The website says “Somerset Square,” but do not confuse this with “The Shops at Somerset Square,” which are a bit down the road and on the other side of the street.)
Get directions here:
Story and Craft Hour with Miss Jane: Tuesdays & Thursdays at
10:30 a.m. (This event runs all year EXCEPT during the month of December when
it takes a break for the holidays. It then resumes in January.)
Regular Store Hours: Sun-Thu 9:00AM-9:00PM; Fri-Sat 9:00AM-10:00PM
Barnes & Noble’s FREE storytimes are a national program, so if you don’t live in/near Glastonbury, find a location in your neck of the woods and check out their storytime schedule! Books and activities may vary from store to store.
Story and Craft Hour:
Little Bat Storybook:
Thirty minutes or more where someone besides me sings, chants, claps, makes faces and otherwise amuses my child:
A stroller if your child is like Boo and won’t sit still on your lap. A stroller with cup holders if you’re a mom like me and can’t resist the allure of an over-priced coffee beverage that requires foreign language skills to order.
A wearable baby carrier if you are toting an infant in case there is standing room only for the adults. Plus, then you can easily explore the rest of the children’s section if he/she gets antsy.
A child who would much prefer to be crawling/toddling around instead of sitting still watching and listening to the other kids. It can only lead to heartbreak.
Be sure to check in next week when we’ll bring you food with a view (it’s the ultimate family-friendly breakfast spot) and a grown up treasure hunt that even your littlest explorers will enjoy.