To spark excitement about reading (and learning experiences of all kinds!) local libraries and bookstores beckon kids with engaging amenities and entertainment. Bright colors, cozy nooks and interactive tech—along with events that inspire creativity—welcome families to hang out for story time or the whole afternoon. Book it to one of these local reading spaces, even if you don’t live in the neighborhood, for hands-on learning and play.
With a 400-gallon tank with live fish, the Allen Public Library also has a fish theme on the walls and carpets to keep that under-the-sea feel in its children’s library. One way to get your child to advance their literacy skills is to join the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. For each 100 books read, the child gets a prize, and as the book number increases, the prizes get bigger. An Anime Club meets every second Thursday of the month for kids to watch anime while doing crafts and socializing.
300 N. Allen Dr., Allen, 214/509-4900
This recently renovated library in downtown Arlington serves up swanky décor, including an interactive Discover Wall. Each letter in the vibrantly colored art installation that spells the word “discover” has a unique design for kids to climb on or sit inside of—the “O,” for example, is a clear, round globe for kids to lounge in, and the “I” is a larger-than-life ruler that lights up and measures kids’ heights. Aside from the interactive décor, the library also houses four touchscreen desktop computers with preloaded games. It also offers launch pads loaded with themed games such as Sesame Street for checkout. The library’s maker space area on the second floor is equipped with tech such as 3D printers, sewing, milling and embroidery machines and vinyl cutters. Kids under 13 who wish to use this space must be accompanied by a parent and have a library card.
Bookmark: Baby & Me (ages 0–12 months), Tuesday at 11:15am; Toddler Time (walkers to age 3), Tuesday at 10:15am; Preschool Story Time (3–5 years), Wednesday at 10:30am; Special Needs Story Time, Thursday at 11:30am; Family Story Time, Saturday at 10:30am.
100 S. Center St., Arlington, 817/459-6900
After school, it’s nice for the kiddos to stretch their legs. The Aubrey Area Library—a hidden gem for families who live north of Highway 380—offers yoga every Wednesday at 4pm to help kids of all ages relieve the stresses of the day. For unstructured playtime, the children’s area has tables with puzzles and a rug where kids can spread out on the floor and read. Plus, the library shares a parking lot with Leslie Park, so your family can soak up some vitamin D on the play set and swings before heading home. Families in nearby cities—Krugerville, Cross Roads, Providence Village—and in all the neighborhoods fronting 380 between Denton and the Dallas North Tollway can get library cards. Tip: the library is closed Monday, Friday and Sunday.
Bookmark: Story time with Mrs. Carter, Tuesday at 4pm; toddler story time, Wednesday at 10:30am.
226 Countryside Drive, Aubrey, 940/365-9162
Moms know how life gets a little loud with kids around. But they don’t have to worry about making noise at the Carrollton Public Library at Josey Ranch Lake. This is not a quiet library, so have fun with the kids. With a Lego table, preschoolers’ area, play kitchen and doctor’s office, plus a rotating cast of manipulatives including puzzles and flannel boards (a carpet wall for littles to create stories out of shapes), there’s no shortage of things for fidgety kids to do. If the littles still have excess energy, meander the paved trails out back to visit the ducks and turtles in Josey Ranch Lake.
Bookmark: Saturday Story Time (for infants through age 5), select Saturdays at 10:30am; Toddler Time (ages 1-3), Monday at 10:15am; Pre-K Story Time (ages 3-5), Monday at 11am; Evening Story Time, Monday at 7pm; Sensory Story Time (for kids 3 and older), Wednesday at 4:30pm.
1700 Keller Springs Road, Carrollton, 972/466-4800
Located next to City Hall, the Colleyville Public library is furnished with three interactive play tables. One table lights up for play with Magna-Tiles, colorful 3D building blocks. The second table is filled with Tinker Toys and the third table is reserved for Legos. Kids in grades 3–5 can learn about robotics, coding and play with tech such as Ozobots (small circular-shaped robots) and Cubelets (magnetic cubes that snap to one another), snap circuits and more at the library’s S.T.E.A.M. club—hosted on Thursdays between January and April from 4-5pm. Similar to S.T.E.A.M. club, the Exploratorium activities on Mondays from 4-5pm include hands-on science experiments and crafts for kids in kindergarten through second grade. For the littles, Preschool Palooza and Bounce Time are at 10:30am on Monday and Friday mornings, respectively. During Bounce Time, toddlers under 3 bounce to tunes in the children’s play area. And in Preschool Palooza, kids ages 4–5 practice their cognitive and social skills with sing-a-longs, crafts and story time.
Bookmark: Tiny Treasures Story Time (0–12 months), Thursday at 10:30am; Toddler Tales Story Time (18–24 months), Tuesday at 10:15am; Shake, Rattle and Read (3–5 years), Wednesday at 10:30am.
110 Main St., Colleyville, 817/503-1154
Exercising increases blood flow to our brains, allowing us to think better—so what better way to learn than by taking the Storybook Walk outside Coppell’s Cozby Library? As you and the kids stroll the plaza right behind the library, look for panels each containing one page of a children’s book—by the end of your stroll, you’ll have read the entire story. The book changes every few weeks, so always check for new material. Inside the library, the toddler zone has a porthole for kids to cozy up in and read a book, or littles can play with colored blocks and build a tower. If that’s not enough, little imagineers looking to keep their hands busy can become architects on the first Wednesday of the month at Lego Club. If you have a young Einstein, take them to STEAM Club on the third Wednesday of the month to tackle the critical brain challenge of the afternoon. Both free programs for kids in kindergarten and elementary school start at 3:30pm.
Bookmark: Ones Upon a Time (for ages 12–24 months), Monday at 10:30am; Toddler Time (ages 2–3), Wednesday at 10:30 and 11:15am; All By Myself (ages 3–5), Thursday at 10:30am; Family Story Time, Tuesday at 7pm.
177 N. Heartz Road, Coppell, 972/304-3655
While the first rule of thumb at most libraries is to use your indoor voice, kiddos are welcome to raise the volume at Bookmarks, a library exclusively for age 12 and under that’s located on level one of NorthPark Center. With puzzle tables, toys, six computers that house learning games by AWE (an early child literacy program), cozy tunnels where kids can curl up with a book, spinning red chairs and a full menu of programming, Bookmarks is the epitome of kid-centered learning and play. Besides regularly scheduled story times throughout the week, Sundays from noon to 4pm are reserved for arts and crafts (usually on a seasonal theme) during the come-and-go KraftyKids program, and Saturday programming at 10am, 10:30am and 2pm runs the gamut from magic shows to art-making.
Bookmark: Baby Basics story time (ages 0–18 months), Monday at 10:30am and 12:30pm, Thursday and Friday at 12:30pm; Preschool Palooza (ages 2–5), Thursday at 3:30pm; Story Time Serendipity (all ages), Wednesday at 3:30pm and Thursdays at 10:30am.
8687 N. Central Expressway, Dallas; 214/671-1381
Your kids can make their own stories come to life at the North Branch Library’s roomy children’s section. Stocked with puppets and a stage, a play kitchen, Legos, blocks, puzzles and iPads, the early literacy play area promotes active free play. For the older kids, there is a large teen hangout space and regular activities, such as weekly crafting classes. The calendar is filled with events for all ages, such as Silly Songs Dance Party for ages 5–10 on March 12 and Brain STEMs for budding engineers ages 8–14 on March 27. Make sure to check the calendar for each month’s events, including classes that teach kids and adults how to use the 3D printer, soldering iron and other tools in The Forge, a tech-slash-maker space.
Bookmark: Mother Goose Time (for babies and caregivers), Friday at 9:30am; Toddler Time (ages 1–3), Thursday at 9:30am; Story Time (ages 1–5), Friday at 11am; Family Night Story Time (ages 1–5), Wednesday at 7pm.
3020 N. Locust St., Denton, 940/349-8752
Read with your littles on one of the three bean bags in the children’s area, which overlooks Rawhide Creek. A portion of the kids’ zone is dedicated to game time, with old-school games like Connect 4, Jenga, puzzles, coloring books and a puppet theater where kids can perform their own shows. There’s also a computer station and stuffed animals. Naturally, children’s events also serve as a source of play. An arts and crafts program is hosted every month, with this month’s theme “So You Want to Make a Fairy Garden.” Kids will make their own versions of fairy gardens with items from pebbles to Play-Dough.
Bookmark: Babybounce story time is Tuesday, Toddler story time is Wednesday and Preschool story time is Thursday, all at 10:15am.
13000 William Dodson Parkway, Farmers Branch, 972/247 2511
Even your pre-readers can get in on the fun at Flower Mound Public Library’s Babypalooza. This event is the second Friday of every month and has sensory stations for infants to explore the world around them—think confetti paper and buckets of oats. And if your family needs to step away from the PlayStation, shift your game night agenda to Gaming Unplugged on the second Sunday of every month except August. There’s something for every age group: board games, card games, chess—you can even bring your own games. Whenever you visit, the library has a large floor space for kids to spread out, plus puzzle boards, coloring sheets and puppets for kids to play with. Exciting news for the future: This month the library is breaking ground to expand the building.
Bookmark: Buzzing Bumblebees story time (for pre-walkers), Monday and Tuesday at 9:30am; Wiggly Walkers (new walkers), Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30am; Romping Rhymers (ages 2–3), Wednesday and Thursday at 11am; Leaping Learners (ages 3–5), Monday and Tuesday at 11am.
3030 Broadmoor Lane, Flower Mound, 972/874-6200
A yellow race car and a rainbow archway mark the spot for Central Library’s kid zone. The kiddos’ Fast Track to Reading program follows this race car theme: Every third Saturday of the month, kids age 5 and younger listen during story time and work in groups to assemble miniature (play) car engines. The children’s area also has play cars for toddlers to scoot around the space. The makerspace area, designed for kids in grades K–12, includes a 3D printer that makes crafty creations come to life, such as lanterns, key chains, ornaments—even Harry Potter wands. Kids are directed to thingiverse.com for ideas on creating their 3D objects; materials are provided by the library. Library cards are not required to access the printer.
Bookmark: Preschool Story Time, Wednesday at 10:30am; Family Story Time, Saturdays at 1pm; Multicultural (Spanish and English) Story Time, second and fourth Sunday of the month at 3pm.
500 W. Third St., Fort Worth, 817/392-7745;
What originally began as a computer lab is now Northwest Public Library’s Panther Lab, equipped with 3D printing, Mac computers with 27-inch screens and a robotic set by Legos. Classes for kids in grades K–12 are offered in the lab and vary by month. Wii Gaming Wednesdays are also a favorite for the older crowd, with games like Mario Kart on the third Wednesday of the month from 3–5pm.
Bookmark: Preschool Story Time, Tuesday and Saturday at 10:30am; Bearly Bedtime Story Time, Thursday at 7pm.
6228 Crystal Lake Drive, Fort Worth, 817/392-5420
The future conductor can get aboard the Ready to Read Railroad at Frisco Public Library. Geared toward infants to 5-year-olds, the more than 600-square-foot interactive learning space has three discovery zones. There’s a dining car complete with plastic foods and a play kitchen, a baby garden with a puppet frog, bee and other creatures, and STEM depot filled with books, cards and props to learn all about trains. For teens, there are monthly writing groups that facilitate a safe space to share ideas and get feedback from peers.
Bookmark: Story Times for Babies (prewalkers), Wednesday at 10:30, 11 and 11:30am; Toddlers in Motion (walkers up to 23 months), Tuesday and Thursday at 10am; Wee Readers (up to 23 months), Friday at 10:30am; 2 Years, Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am, Friday at 10am; 3–5 Years, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 11am; Sensory Story Time, select Saturdays at 11am.
6101 Frisco Square Blvd., Frisco, 972/292-5669
The library’s Create It (CI) station is a paradise for tech-minded kids. Age 7 and up can learn the inner workings of a computer by assembling Kano Computer Kits into working machines. Other tools include the Dot and Dash robotics, which teach programming techniques, and Bloxels, where kids design their own video games using square blocks, a board and a tablet. With the 3D printer, kids get a chance to create designs and watch them become real-life objects such as cookie cutters and chess sets. Classes that teach kids how to use this state-of-the-art technology are given periodically every month. (Registration in advance is not required.) On non-class days, the CI is open every Sunday from 2–6pm.
Bookmark: Music and movement story time (ages 2–5), Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:15am.
1202 Municipal Way, Grapevine, 817/410-3405
A train track adorns the ceiling of the children’s area in the Hurst Public Library. Kid-sized tables, a globe and characters from the Arthur show are featured. Plus, your little future engineers will love the library’s STEM Engine programming Wednesdays from 3–5pm. Catapult building, working with snap circuits and playing with robotics—like coding a mouse to run around the library—are just a few of the activities elementary-aged kids partake in on Wednesday afternoons. Some of the library’s story times—dubbed Story Laboratory—are themed around science. On the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm, kiddos delve into three experiments and are read two stories matching the experiments’ theme. Themes change each month, with March’s theme set as “Robot Invasion.”
Bookmark: Toddler Time (for ages 1–3), Monday and Thursday at 10am; Story Time (for ages 3–6), Tuesday at 10:45am.
901 Precinct Line Road, Hurst, 817/788-7302
The inspiration behind this independent bookstore’s name—a mélange between a question mark (interrogative) and an exclamation point (a bang)—is the spirit of curiosity and excitement that books evoke. In addition to Interabang’s selection of more than 12,000 books, the store has a children’s room, where a wall of vibrant flowers on a green background marks the spot for weekly story times led by Mr. Jeff, who is joined by Miss Marissa from time to time. The bookstore also boasts its Modern First Library collection for kids, featuring the classic oldies we all know and love, like Corduroy, with new, diverse stories such as After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). Download the store’s monthly event calendar online or pick one up in store to stay up to date with its latest kiddie happenings. (In the past, clowns from texasparties.com have stopped by story time.)
Bookmark: Story times are Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30am for ages 4–8 (toddlers also welcome).
10720 Preston Road, Suite 1009B, Dallas, 214/484-4289
The city of Irving knows how to make a crowd-pleasing kids’ zone. In the middle of the Valley Ranch Library, there’s a two-story pirate ship marking the entrance to the children’s area, surrounded by chairs for kids to cozy up and read. If you have an older kid tagging along, the Green Room gives teens access to video and digital cameras, lighting equipment and microphones for making podcasts; just schedule an appointment for a tour and orientation. Meanwhile, the 5-and-under crowd has plenty to keep their hands and minds busy in the Discovery Zone (no, not that Discovery Zone, sorry) at the South Irving Library. The spacious play area has a kitchenette and a table for building with blocks and Legos, among other learning stations.
Bookmark: Baby Bookworms, Monday at 10:30am (Valley Ranch) and Thursday at 10:30am (South Irving); Toddler Storytime, Wednesday at 10:30am (both locations); Preschooler Storytime, Tuesday at 10:30am (South Irving); Family Storytime, Tuesday at 7pm (Valley Ranch). Tickets are required for story times at Valley Ranch; pick them up at the information desk.
Valley Ranch, 401 Cimarron Trail, Irving, 972/721-4669
South Irving, 601 Schulze Drive, Irving, 972/721-2606
What’s now the children’s wing of the Lewisville Public Library used to be the entire library, so it’s not lacking in space. With seating in various colors, tons of computers, and part of the ceiling lit up like a rainbow (trust us—you just have to see it), the expansive area is perfect for spreading out and spending the afternoon with your brood. Outside, check out the learning garden and watch the library calendar for events that will have your kids digging in the dirt. Back inside, the library’s makerspace, known as the Hive, is jam-packed with creative tech open to all ages: 3D printers, a laser cutter, embroidering machines, a sewing machine and more. The Hive is only open Tuesday–Thursday from 11am–8pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am–4:30pm; you’ll need to sign a user agreement before going in.
Bookmark: Mother Goose Time (0–15 months), Monday at 11:15am and Thursday at 1:30pm; Toddler Time, Tuesday at 10:30am and Thursday at 10:30am and 11:15am; Preschool Time, Monday at 10:30am and Tuesday at 11:15am.
1197 W. Main St., Lewisville, 972/219-3570
The children’s area here includes a large purple tree with nooks for kids to get cozy and read. A miniature kitchen and a dress-up area in the Dramatic Play section are ideal for little ones to let their imaginations run. The library’s STEM cart is also a source of play for kids age 9 and up. It’s available during the STEM club on the second Thursday of the month, when kids get to experiment with technology such as coding robots and a 3D printer, with which they make designs like ornaments come to life. On Wednesday and Friday at 11am, drop by the library with littles age 3 and younger for a designated play time, part of the library’s Family Place initiative.
Bookmark: Baby Story Club (0–18 months), Friday at 10:30am; Story Time for Tots (ages 18 months to 3 years), Tuesday and Saturday at 10:30am; Bilingual Story Time (ages 3–6), Thursday at 10:30am; Listener’s Story Time (ages 3–6), Wednesday at 10:30am.
104 S. Wisteria, Mansfield, 817/728-3690
A large tree with green-painted book pages as leaves and wooden crates forming its trunk touches the ceiling at Monkey and Dog Books, an independent bookstore with a new, bigger location as of last August. In addition to serving as a neat bookshelf, the tree has a space inside for kids to sit and get cozy as they read. Aside from the environmentally friendly décor, Monkey and Dog Books is one of the few local bookstores with an official dog. On any given day, your kiddos will be greeted by Sophie, the owner’s dog.
Bookmark: Story Time (all ages), Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30am.
3608 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817/489-5747
When you walk into the Harrington Library, hang a right to join two-hour workshops that allow families to paint alongside the current 18st AIRSpace Artist in Residence (Christine Song until the end of March). When the artist is not present, there are simple make-and-take projects for families to work on. Then stroll under the wall of swirling clouds to be transported to the Family Place, named for the national Family Place Libraries network, which helps libraries promote early literacy. There are a range of toys, Legos, interactive puzzles, traditional wooden puzzles, play food, trucks and wooden blocks for all ages—and books of course. And the library offers Family Place Playgroup for age 3 and younger and a parent or caregiver (siblings are welcome too if they are 4–5 years old). The five-week workshop includes play activities and provides professional resources to parents, such as speech, hearing and nutrition info. The next series begins March 14; registration is required due to limited space.
Bookmark: Rhyme Time (ages 0–24 months), Tuesday at 9:30am; Toddler Time (18–36 months), Monday at 9:30am and Wednesday at 10:30am; Preschool Storytime (3–5 years), Monday and Tuesday at 10:30am.
1501 18th St., Plano, 972/941-7175
Hop into the newly relocated Prosper Community Library to visit the library’s bunnies, Max and Ruby, who often roam around their designated area in the morning but are present every day, and follow BiblioBunny Tales online to keep up with their adventures. Every Sunday, a critical-thinking workshop is held to challenge kids: One Sunday’s activity was to describe the color blue using all the senses. For more learning opportunities, use the library’s free ABCmouse.com program while in the library. The program teaches reading, language, math, science, social studies, art and colors through animations, games, books, songs, puzzles, art and printables as well as an interactive zoo, aquarium and farm.
Bookmark: Bilingual Story Time (up to age 5), Wednesday at 11am; Pajama Story Time, Wednesday at 6pm.
200 S. Main St., Prosper, 972/569-1185
With larger-than-life characters (including a hot air balloon overhead) and lots of windows to look out of, the children’s area of the Richardson Public Library is a feast for the senses as well as the mind. Use the Peek-a-Book touchscreen to preview books your little might want to check out. For an active experience, head outside to embark on Darbey’s Storywalk, which has 16 stations that allow families to read a picture book together while getting some exercise. The book changes monthly, so check back often.
Bookmark: Saturday Morning Kids story time (ages 3–7), Saturday at 10:30am.
900 Civic Center Drive, Richardson, 972/744-4350
Kiddos will love the touch-screen table in the children’s area, which offers games in subjects like math, social sciences and reading. The library is also equipped with three kiddie computers for ages 2–8—equipped with STEAM-related games and activities and reading games, including programs in Spanish and English. (The UP library also boasts a growing collection of Spanish-language books for kids.) Preloaded launch pads, which feature games and do not require an internet connection, are available for checkout. These tablets are for age 5 and younger (and make for perfect road-trip play items, if you ask us). The children’s area has some old-school fun too, with puzzles, blocks and crafts for kids to make in the library or take home. Brick Bash takes place on the second Saturday of each month (except December), when kids build colorful creations out of Legos that are then displayed in the library for the rest of the month.
Bookmark: Story time for ages 4 and 5, Wednesday at 3:45pm; for preschoolers, Thursday at 10:45am; for age 2 and younger, Friday at 10:45am.
8383 Preston Center Plaza, Suite 200, University Park, 214/363-9095
Who said coffee shops are reserved for caffeinated college students and on-the-go orders? Grab your morning dose of caffeine and get some hot chocolate for the kiddos at Wild Detectives, a bookstore-slash-coffee shop serving up homey, family vibes, during its weekly Sunday morning story time, Kids in the Cliff. The story time space has large windows surrounding a cozy nook, furnished with wooden benches and pillows. Wild Detectives is also unique for its request-a-book service, through which you can request a book that is not in the shop and receive a complimentary coffee for your inquiry.
Bookmark: Kids in the Cliff, Sunday at 11am.
314 W. Eighth St., Dallas, 214/942-0108
Correction: A previous version stated the story time for 3–5 Years at Frisco Public Library as 10am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It has since been corrected to 11am. A previous version also stated Carrollton Public Library at Josey Ranch Lake to have story time on Saturday at 10:30am. It has since been corrected to select Saturdays at 10:30am.