Educators have long touted the benefits of reading aloud to children, and researchers say they're right. As The New York Times reports, studies have shown that reading teaches children to picture the meaning of words and exposes them to unique word sets. Because of these findings and others, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently began recommending that literacy training begin at birth. Fortunately for parents and caregivers, readings abound in New Orleans, and story times occur every day of the work week and on Saturday along Magazine St., from the CBD to Uptown.
Children's Resource Center (CRC)
913 Napoleon Ave., (504) 596-2628; www.neworleanspubliclibrary.org
Story time: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
Story time and craft: 4:30 p.m., first and fourth Monday of the month
Bilingual story time and craft: 4:30 p.m., second Monday of the Month
The CRC is one of 13 New Orleans Public Library branches that hosts story times. For sessions in English, librarians Jeffrey Bostick and Jocenta "Miss Jo" Ferrouillet alternate days reading from a stately throne while audience members listen from a mini-amphitheater. The Wednesday reading attracts babies and toddlers. The librarians select stories to suit the needs of their crowd: picture books for older kids and oversized books for younger children. The English language reading on Monday follows a theme, such as science, that is replicated in a craft. That reading is designed for after-school students ranging from 5 to 9 years old. At the bilingual story time, a Tulane University student reads books in Spanish and English. Free admission.
The Magic Box
5508 Magazine St., (504) 899-0117; www.magicboxneworleans.com
Story time: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
The locally owned toy store offers "Stories & Such," a combination reading and play time for 4-month-olds to to 6-year-olds. Sales associate Raven Ambeau reads English and some French books in the play area at the back of the store, where audience members can lounge on an oversized panda bear or lion while listening to stories. The reading lasts about 15 minutes, after which kids may play with Legos and Tegu blocks or draw on coloring pages that reflect the theme of the week. Themes range from school to princesses to plain old silliness. The store prints a monthly calendar of themes and books, which is available in the store. Free admission.
5228 Magazine Street, (504) 510-4878; www.kindred-studios.com
Story time: 10:30 a.m. Friday
Kindred houses a sleek fitness studio for prenatal and parent/baby classes and a storefront for Zuka Baby. Instructor Lindsay Troha reads local picture books from the store shelves to babies and children up to five years old. Readings occur in the romp room, a padded play area lined with wooden toys, foam balls, animal puzzles and a teepee. Lindsay reads two books in the allotted 30 minutes, which means there's always time to explore the gated play territory after the end. Free admission.
Louisiana Children's Museum (LCM)
420 Julia St., (504) 523-1357; www.lcm.org
Story time: 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Toddler time: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday & Thursday
The LCM, a 30,000-foot exhibition space, offers play and learning platforms for children of all ages. Story times typically take place in the Talk and Play Center, a material version of A Cajun Little Red Riding Hood replete with a lily pond, green canoe and Cajun cottage. For large groups, readings move to the auditorium. Education Program Coordinator Kate Grueneberg reads stories that evoke monthly themes such as "power of play" and "circles and spheres." The regular story time is geared for book lovers 4 and older. Toddler Time, a reading for ages birth to 3 years old, includes a sensory activity that relates to the book. For both events, LCM publishes a newsletter, available online, that lists the month's theme and books. Free with admission, which costs $8.50 for adults and children; babies under 1 are free.
Whole Foods Market Arabella Station
5600 Magazine St., (504) 899-9119; www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/arabellastation
Story time: 10 a.m. Thursday
The health food chain and Nurture Nannies, a local child-care agency, host story times that feed the mind and body. Nannies read books about radishes, tomatoes and other healthy foods in the breezeway at Whole Foods, and the market provides complimentary snacks and juice for the children and coffee for grownups. Audience members can stay for the full hour-long reading session (three to four books) or just for one or two. Free admission.