With shelves full of picture books beside a sunny window, all the snug children’s room at Sundance Books and Music is missing is a grandparent reading stories.

But every first Friday of the month, they have just that: children’s book author and illustrator Joyce Rossi, who sings songs, draws pictures and reads books to a group of enthralled youngsters.

For Christine Kelly, co-owner of the independent bookstore, those kids may be the best show in town.

“I just lean against the door jam and see that they’re rapt,” says Kelly. “They can’t wait to hear what she’ll read next.”

Reading to children has been linked to higher test scores, stronger families, and accelerated speech and literacy skills. But being read to in groups may have its own benefits.

“Of course introducing kids to books is important,” says Beate Weinert, head of Community Collaborations for the Washoe County Library System. “But storytimes also introduce our younger patrons to group dynamics, [like] how to be social and behave around a lot of other kids.”

A lot is right. A library storytime occurs almost daily in Washoe County, and the most popular Spanish Springs and South Valley events—often featuring songs and craft projects—can draw more than 60 kids, plus assorted guardians.

“It’s very much a room in motion,” laughs Weinert.

Meanwhile, at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, story time is a break from the motion that usually electrifies the boisterous space. On Small Wonder Wednesdays, parents with children under 6 may enter the museum one hour early to explore the facilities without having to keep up with the older kids. While programming coordinator Sarah Gobbs-Hill describes how younger visitors might not yet have the motor skills to traverse the museum’s three-story model of the water cycle.

“We’ll read a book about hot air balloons and launch a tissue paper balloon so they can still see an idea in action,” she says.

Parents get to see an idea in action, too, when they see a master reader perform a book. By watching, parents learn how to better read aloud at home, how to create a character, pace a story, incorporate a craft.

And make a friend, says Barnes & Noble community relations manager Caddie Dufurrena. While she considers the Reno store’s weekly Saturday storytimes “a great way for little ones to meet new friends,” she adds that “parents also greatly appreciate the chance to interact with other parents who have children in the same age group.”

Storytimes remind kids to be social while sitting quietly, to listen hard and to love books. We adults might do with a reminder too.

Sundance Storytimes with Joyce Rossi are held 10:30-11:15 a.m. every first Friday of the month at Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Ave. Structured for children 3-6 p.m., but open to all ages. Free. www.sundancebookstore.com

Washoe County Libraries preschool and family story times are held at multiple branches across the county. Specialty Toddler Times are offered at South Valleys, Northwest Reno, Spanish Springs. Sparks Library’s Saturday storytimes at 1 p.m. alternate between Bilingual (for ages 0-6) and Princess Days (for grades 1-3). Free. Ask at your local branch library desk for a schedule of storytimes, or go online to the Kids Zone Kid Events Calendar at www.washoecounty.us/library/kids_events.html.

Small Wonders Wednesdays are held the third Wednesday of every month at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum, 490 Center St., at 9 a.m., one hour before the museum opens to the public. Limited to family with children 5 and under. Members are free, nonmembers are charged $8 for all day admission. www.nvdm.org

Barnes & Noble Storytimes at 5555 S. Virginia St. occur every Saturday at 11 a.m. Special children’s events are listed monthly in the B&N printed calendar of events, available in-store at the Customer Service Desk or online. Free. www.barnesandnoble.com

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