10 free events in NoVA to get your child excited about reading

From listening to interactive story times to reading out loud to shelter dogs, here’s how to help your little ones read more in 2020.

kids reading book on floor with two boys and two girls
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The New Year is upon us and it seems that everyone and their mother has a book suggestion. 

You may be wondering, what books should your kids be reading? Sure, they’ve probably read a good stack for school this year. But if you’re looking for ways to get them more interested, excited or confident in reading, here are 10 local events to attend this month.

Ukulele Storytime
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 10:30-11 a.m.
What’s better than getting to listen to a story with your kids? Getting to hear music to go along with it, of course! Let your child listen to a few stories while live music is played by the Northern Virginia Ukulele Society musicians. From infants to 5-year-olds, this story time will have them singing, laughing, clapping and learning along at Fairfax County Library. // Burke Centre Library: 5935 Freds Oak Road, Burke; free

Barnes & Noble Story Time: Baby & Me
Friday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.
Most little movers or stroller riders aren’t quite old enough to sit for an entire story time, but luckily, this one is designed just for them. Every Friday at the Tysons Corner Center Barnes & Noble, local families can bring their babies to enjoy interactive activities and board books for all. // Barnes & Noble at Tysons Corner Center: 7851 Tysons Corner Center, McLean; free

Barnes & Noble Storytime: Nobody Hugs a Cactus
Saturday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m.
With hands-on activities and an intimate story time with local residents, even the littlest Northern Virginians can learn from a story about the prickliest cactus in the entire world. With lessons on the reality of loneliness for kids, as well as how to make friends and accept one another, this story will be sure to inspire you and your children while being a fun morning outing in January. // Barnes & Noble at Fair Lakes Promenade: 12193 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive, Fairfax; free

Seniors & Kids Pajama Story Time
Jan. 21, 6:30-7 p.m.
Everyone loves a good story before bed, and this intergenerational program brings together the love of reading to all ages through read-aloud stories, songs, rhymes and activities. Families are encouraged to participate together, borrow books they want to read and wear their favorite pajamas to the local library. // Arlington Central Library: 1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington; free

Stories to Grow On
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 11-11:45 a.m.
Meant for children up to age 5, this story time is not to “sit still and listen.” Through language development, large motor skills and social growth, little attendees will get to move, act, sing, dance and play while listening to a chosen story. Plus, yoga and take-home crafts are often themed with the story to help with all-around learning. // Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library: 717 Queen St., Alexandria; free

Paws to Read
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Having open ears to listen while you read, especially when they’re patient while you learn, is priceless. Let your child practice reading out loud to local therapy dogs, and not only will they get in their much-needed practice times, they’ll get puppy hugs and kisses too. This event is meant for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. // Shirlington Branch Library: 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; free

Reading Buddies in Loudoun County
Thursday, Jan. 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Learning to read doesn’t always mean your child is going to love to read (It’s a tough process, remember?). Let your child, from preschool through second grade, pair up with a local teen in order to learn to build their reading confidence and develop a better relationship with the activity. This one-on-one reading time will be beneficial to all. // Brambleton Library: 22850 Brambleton Plaza, Bambleton; free

Barnes & Noble Storytime: How to Catch a Dragon
Saturday, Jan. 25, 11 a.m.
In honor of the Lunar New Year, the Manassas Barnes & Noble location will be hosting a silly story time for kids, where they will learn how the dragon will avoid trap after trap in order to be fully trained, and they will get to try it for themselves! Hear the story and let your little ones get past the paper lanterns, red envelopes, fireworks and more. Plus, color your very own paper lantern to take home in time for the holiday. // Barnes & Noble at Westgate Plaza: 8117 Sudley Road, Manassas; free

Spanish Circle Time / El Circulo de Cuentos en Español
Monday, Jan. 27, 11-11:45 a.m.
Whether your child’s first language is Spanish or they’re in the process of learning, Spanish Circle Time with Ms. Roxana, also known as Señora Roxana, allows local little ones of all ages to hear story time in Spanish, from beloved classic kids’ books to those that may have never been heard of before. // Bull Run Regional Library: 8051 Ashton Ave., Manassas; free

Reading Tails: Read to Animals at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
Sunday, Feb. 9, 4-5:30 p.m.
Help your child learn to love to read and help local shelter pets at this 90-minute program hosted by Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Local children of all reading ages are welcome to participate in Reading Tails, where they will get a tour of the shelter with behind-the-scenes areas and adoption facilities, as well as 30 minutes to read aloud to the shelter dogs and cats before they settle in for bed. Small flashlights and cozy blankets are provided. // Fairfax County Animal Shelter: 4500 W. Ox Road, Fairfax; free

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