All three of my girls love a great book, but they each have their own distinct reading habits, especially when it comes to read-a-louds. My oldest is a keen listener and sits back and takes it all in. My middle daughter is always thinking ahead to what question she can ask next and how quickly she can get her hand up to contribute to a conversation.

And then there’s the littlest. A grandparent at one chaotic story hour {uh, make that 10 minutes} looked at me and said, “She must be your third” as my darling tossed books, investigated the contents of other moms’ diaper bags, and threw ever ounce of her 22-month-old physique into a tap dance routine on the mini stage where the story reader did her best to carry on. She loves books at home—snuggled up in her red chair in her bedroom or in the car or in the middle of the kitchen floor. But in a bookstore or library with so many other things to look at? Not so much.

Good thing there are so many choices around Baltimore when it comes to a good story time, designed for observers, questioners, and movers and shakers of all ages. Here are our (cool) picks for a great story around town.

best storytimes in baltimore

the library

You can’t beat the selection of story times from the local library systems, both the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Baltimore County Library systems. Working parent? They’ve got you covered with weekend and evening story times. There are story times geared toward infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in both English and Spanish. But keep in mind that many require pre registration and spots fill up quickly at some branches, especially for baby story times where new moms can mix and mingle and build a new community of parents experiencing the same milestone and challenges.

greetings & readings

Baltimore county parents in the know take the kids to Greetings and Readings at the Hunt Valley Towne Center for an interactive story time with Miss Lee on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.  Designed for kids ages 2-6, there’s a selection of stories, a sometimes craft, and always a free balloon from the balloon desk on your way out. Add to the fun and ride the Baltimore Light Rail to Hunt Valley.

irvine nature center

The name says it all. Tales and Tails at the Irvine Nature Center is the perfect combo of kiddie lit with a nature bent and an animal encounter to tie in to the week’s stories. This weekly event is held on Fridays from 10-10:45 and is held outside when the weather cooperates. On a recent visit, we heard 4 stories about springtime, frogs, and turtles, and then had the chance to meet a resident turtle and snake. This story time is especially popular with the toddler set, but also kept my 8- year-old engaged as she waited to see what animal visitor was going to come out for a visit. Extend the literary experience with a walk on the trails to enjoy the nature and maybe meet some creature residents in the wild.

the red canoe café

Thursday mornings at 10 a.m., head to Lauraville for stories and crafts at the Red Canoe Café. This well-curated children’s book selection has the classics and soon-to- be classics. After story time, stick around for a cup of coffee and a muffin the size of your toddler’s head {raspberry chocolate chip, anyone?}.

b&o railroad museum

It’s not free {except, of course, for members}, but pint-sized train enthusiasts can celebrate their favorite mode of transportation at Toddler Time at the B&O Railroad Museum. The festivities take place on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 10:30 a.m. from January through September.

mall story times

Yes, that mall, the ones that kids either love {a Starbucks treat and an extra lollipop in the stroller while mom attempts to find shoes for your older sister? Certainly} or hate. But if you hit the mall at the right time, you can join the cheerful, and sometimes chaotic, throngs of other toddlers and parents gathered for the weekly Family Fun Day with Miss Julie filled with stories, music, and special visits from magicians, clowns, puppeteers, and other kid-friendly entertainers. Though these events can get crowded, look at the bright side—it’s easy to make an anonymous getaway if your little one just isn’t having it that day. At the Towson Town Center, Family Fun Day takes place on Fridays on the Grand Court on Level 1 from 10-10:45 a.m. At White Marsh, you can join the fun on Tuesdays from 10-10:45 a.m. outside of Macy’s lower level. And, in Columbia , follow the stroller brigade to the Lord & Taylor court on Thursdays at 10 a.m. Barnes and Noble. Sure, you can find anything on Amazon, but one of the things this online mega-marketplace can’t provide is a weekly story time. Between Harford and Howard Counties, there are 6 Barnes and Noble shops, each with a schedule of children’s activities including weekly story times and special events, including author visits. Check your local store for hours. Our favorite is the downtown Power Plant bookstore which is a destination in itself with its ginormous fish tank and outside balconies overlooking the Harbor.

port discovery

Before you settle into the diner for a big old plastic slice of pie served by your favorite toddler, check out the schedule for the museum’s interactive {and  sometimes musical} story times. Infants and Toddlers can enjoy Mother Goose on the Loose with nursery rhymes, songs, and stories designed to build on early literacy, on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m. and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. in Tot Trails. Circle Time in the Oasis is geared toward the pre-K set with stories, songs, and sometimes even puppet visitors for some dramatic flair on weekdays at 11:30 a.m., Saturdays at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m., and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. Museum admission is required, but advance registration isn’t necessary.

reginald f. lewis museum

Though it’s not a weekly event, the monthly Saturday’s Child series at Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum frequently incorporates stories, art, and, of course, a celebration of African American history and culture. The museum’s next event on
May 9th celebrates reading at the 3rd annual African American Children’s Book Fair. Local poets and celebrity readers are on hand for readings, craft activities, cultural performances, and a celebration of diversity. Children six and under are free, though
adults need to pay for admission to the museum.

(cool) tip: If a germ infestation, no nap, wacky schedule, terrible twos {threes, fours, etc.}, or [fill in the blank] is keeping you away from your favorite story time, never fear. Thanks to Baltimore County’s Dial a story, you can call 410-887-6116 and hear 2 new stories a week without even leaving your house.