The Benefits of Reading and Free Local Story Times


I teach writing at Montclair State University. But learning to write well was not easy for me. In fact, I’m still working at it. Good writing is deceptive. Looks easy, but it sure isn’t.

Unfortunately many of my students are weak writers. What exactly does that mean? Some students have poor mechanical skills. They misuse commas and don’t know when to use an uppercase letter. They’re sloppy. Other students don’t know how to make a thoughtful argument. And then there are the students who struggle with both. I think the one thing they could all use is a hearty book. They just don’t read enough good writing. That’s why we need to encourage a love of reading early on, and there is no better time than now —March is National Reading Month.

If you want your kids to become stronger writers, start now. Read to them, read with them and encourage them to read on their own.

Show them that you enjoy reading too. I recommend E.B. White. That man knew how to craft a perfect sentence. And get your kids to read aloud. I’m sensitive to how words sound when read aloud. I used to be a public radio reporter and host. When the on-air light is ‘hot’, you tend to be more careful about your word choice and sentence structure.

We’re lucky to have dedicated story hours in Baristaville that encourage a love of reading. And they’re free!

Here is a round up of free local story times:

Montclair Public Library:


Babies in the Library
Parents and caregivers sing nursery rhymes together with their little ones. Songs, language activities, and board books will be introduced during each session. Make baby’s first library experience a special one. Children of all abilities welcome.
Newborn-13 mos. at 10:30 am
Babies 14-23 mos. at 11:30 am
Tuesdays, April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13 & 20
Registration required

Toddler Time
Toddlers and the adults in their lives explore language, numbers through stories, and songs. Picture books, flannel board stories and nursery rhymes are used to introduce the wonder of books.
Age 2
Wednesdays, April 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14 & 21 at 10:30 am & 11:30 am
Registration required

Mother Goose

Mother Goose is an excellent way to promote literacy among our preschool-aged patrons.
Picture books, flannel board stories, songs and puppets are used to build upon children’s natural enthusiasm for books and reading. Children of all abilities welcome.
Ages 3 to 6
Thursdays, April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15 & 22 at 2 pm
Registration required

Family Storytime @ Bellevue Avenue Branch
This fun program is designed for newborns through five year-olds accompanied by a favorite adult. Share books, stories, fingerplays, rhymes, and music with your children. Join us for a dynamic program that encourages a love of reading and fosters the development of early literacy skills.
Babies to 5 years old and parent / caregiver
Held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 11:00 am.
No registration required.


Bloomfield Public Library:


Baby and Me
This program features songs and nursery rhymes for the youngest listeners, as well as a short story or two.  Parents are encouraged to stay late and socialize with fellow parents.
Thursdays, 11-11:30 am

Toddler Time
Songs, stories, movement and more for children 18 months to 3 years.  A simple craft rounds out the session.
Ages 18 mos. – 3 years
Tuesdays, 11-11:30 am

Pre-K Story and Craft
Stories, songs, rhymes, and more for preschoolers. A craft will follow the session.
Ages 3-5
Wednesdays, 11-11:30 am

Spanish Storytime
Songs an stories in Spanish
Ages 2 – 5
Mondays, 11 – 11:30 am

Glen Ridge Public Library:

Baby Play Group
This drop-in play group encourages socialization among children under age two. The library will provide age appropriate toys and books for babies to play with while here.  Caregivers are required to stay with their children while participating in the group.
Tuesday mornings at 9am.

Tiny Tots
This half-hour story time is filled with stories, finger plays, music and movement. Children and caregivers participate in activities that encourage vocabulary, social skills and confidence in movement.
Babies 6 months of age up to 23 months
Friday mornings at 9:30 am.

Toddler Time
This half-hour program is filled with stories, finger plays and fun. The activities encourage vocabulary, social skills, following directions and body awareness.
Age 2
Thursday mornings at 9:30 am.

Pre-School Story Time
It is an “own my own” half-hour of stories and fun that encourages a variety of early literacy skills, vocabulary, social skills and following directions.
Ages 3 – 5
Wednesdays at 1:30 pm.

PJ Story Time
This evening story time is for children of all ages and features stories, songs and finger plays.  Children are welcome to wear pajamas to the program.  Sometimes, they feature special guest authors, even pets.
All ages
Third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 pm.

Children's Room at WB

Watchung Booksellers:


Mommy & Me Storytime
Stories, songs and more
Ages 2 and younger
Wednesdays at 10:30 am
Sign up at front desk. First come, first serve.




West Orange Public Library:


Babies and Books
Stories, songs, and rhymes introduce babies with their caregivers to language skills.
Birth – 24 months old
Fridays at 10:30 am
Registration required

Terrific Toddlers
Puppets, stories, songs and fingerplays entertain toddlers with their caregivers.
Ages 2 – 3 1/2 years old
Tuesdays at 10:30 am
Registration required

Preschool Page Turners
Stories, songs and games.
Ages 3 1/2 – 5 years old
Tuesdays at 11:30 am



Verona Public Library:


Baby and Toddler Storytime
Stories and songs.
Tuesdays, 10 am or Wednesdays, 10 am
Registration required

Preschool and Kindergarten Storytime
Stories and songs.
Thursdays at 1:30 pm or Fridays at 10 am
Registration required



Maplewood Public Library:


Baby Lit
Stories, fingerplays, songs and more! Valid Maplewood Library card required.
Birth – 2 1/2 years old
Tuesdays at 10:30 am

Preschool Storytime
Ages 2 1/2 – 5 years old
Wednesdays at 4 pm or Thursdays at 11 am



8536233485_0669140ef4South Orange Public Library: 


Books for Babies
Stories, songs and and more
birth – 2 1/2 years old
Wednesdays at 11 am

Toddler Storytime
Stories, songs and an art project.
Ages 2 1/2 – 4
Tuesdays at 11 am


Please call the library or bookstore before attending ot confirm, as times and schedules change. Happy reading!



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