The D.C. area makes it easy to avoid brain drain this summer. Whether you are rocking an infant, holding a toddler’s hand or keeping your elementary schooler occupied, you’ve got options. And it’s not just public libraries that offer these fun events – although pretty much all of them do. You can find someone reading stories aloud in the darndest places, including the National Postal Museum and Pottery Barn Kids. There are even storytimes in other languages. And did we mention that all but two are free (and even those are included with standard admission fees)? Check out our list.

Photo: Cockburn Libraries via Flickr

Public Libraries

D.C. Public Library
The library system has plenty of regular storytime options – Baby Lap Time, with songs, rhymes and movement for newborns to new walkers; Baby and Toddler Story Time for kids up to age 2; Toddler Story Time for the 18- to 36-month set; Preschool Story Time for children ages 3 to 5; Family Story Time, in which children and grown-ups are encouraged to actively engage; and Pajama Story Time, an evening event that is jammies-friendly — but the schedule heats up in the summer with these special offerings:

Science in the Summer, which will help kids understand how science helps athletes through balance and reaction time challenges, studying mental skills, building protective gear, and understanding the physics of some sports.

Summer Saturday Science Storytime at the Cleveland Park Library, focusing on hands-on science for kids 3 to 5.

Crafty Mondays for children and preteens.

STEM Wednesdays, during which kids spend an hour designing and making an engineering project.

S.T.A.R. (singing, talking and reading) Play Date for kids 0 to 3.

Fun Fridays, during which children and teens can play board games, watch movies and use the Wii from 1 to 4 p.m. at Rosedale Library.

Story Time with the Washington Nationals, during which a player will do the reading.

Bilingual Spanish Story Time, happening next at the Shepherd Park Library on July 28 at 11 a.m.

Where: Check website for all locations
When: Check website for calendar listings
Online: dclibrary.org

Fairfax County Public Library
The Kaleidoscope Storytime adapts to children of all ages on the autism spectrum and those who have other developmental challenges. Another outside-the-box option: Codeapillar Storytime, which teaches kids 4 to 7 about the basics of coding. Other storytime options include Storytime for kids 2 to 5, Toddler Storytime for 2- and 3-year-olds, Preschool Storytime for 3- and 4-year-olds, and Starlight Storytime for 2- to 6-year-old night owls.

Where: Check website for all locations
When: Check website for calendar listings
Online: librarycalendar.fairfaxcounty.gov

Arlington County Public Library
Check the website for all of the county’s summer storytime programs, such as Wobbly Walkers for 13- to 24-month-olds, Family Stories in the Park for all ages, ABC STEAM for 3 to 6, Summer Night Storytime for kids up to 5, and Preschool Dance Party for tots 2 to 5.

Where: Check website for all locations
When: July 10 to Aug. 11 for Preschool Storytime
Online: library.arlingtonva.us

Alexandria Library
Summer reading adventures abound at Alexandria’s four branch libraries. Check out Stroll the StoryWalk @ Burke in which laminated pages from children’s books are placed on stakes in the grassy area outside the Burke Branch Library to combine reading, movement and the outdoors; Baby Time for babies up to 11 months; 1,2,3 Andres!, musical performances in English and Spanish; Summerquest sing-alongs and shows with local celebrities such as Oh, Susannah, Peter McCory, magician Peter Wood and Rocknoceros; Paws to Read to dogs for first- to sixth-graders; and Maker Madness for budding engineers ages 8 to 12. There’s a lot more, including puppet shows, Spanish storytime and Mother Goose Yoga.

Where: Check website
When: Check website
Online: alexlibraryva.org

Loudoun County Public Library
All eight of the county’s library branches offer storytimes for kids starting as young as newborns. Like the other counties, storytimes are broken into age groups for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and young school-age children who are starting to read themselves. Additionally, five locations offer Musical Storytime for all ages that gives kids a chance to play instruments and read musical books. Two locations also have Open Door Storytime for children with sensory integration challenges. “It combines books, songs, movement, and therapeutic activities to stimulate all five senses and promote learning,” according to the website.

Where: Check website
When: Check website
Online: library.loudoun.gov/storytimes

Prince George’s County Memorial Library System Ready 2 Read Storytimes
Storytimes are offered Monday through Saturday for little ones ages 0 to 5. There are also several off-site Ready 2 Read programs, such as Spanish/English and Chinese/English storytimes. Bonus: The libraries provide for free Ready 2 Read backpacks chock full of five themed books and related activities that parents can continue to put an emphasis on early literacy at home.

Where: Check website
When: Check website
Online: pgcmls.libnet.info

Prince William County Public Library System’s Journey Through Books
The summer reading program for children runs through Aug. 19. Special events in June include Toddler Storytime for wee ones ages 18 to 36 months and STEAM Family Storytime, focusing on stories related to those five topics. In July and August, check out Family Bedtime Storytime, Spanish Preschool Storytime and Pajamarama Story Time.

Where: Check website
When: Check website
Online: pwcgov.evanced.info

Museum Storytimes

National Air and Space Museum
Staff at one of the most popular museums read stories about – and sometimes by – famous aviators, hot-air balloon flights, trips to Mars, the night sky and creatures that fly. Sessions include one story and one activity. If you’re bringing a lot of kiddos, reservations are recommended for groups of 10 or more. In June, hear “Mousetronaut” by astronaut Mark Kelly and “The Sun Is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch. Note: Storytime is available at both the D.C. museum and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy location in Chantilly.

Where: Independence Ave. at 6th St., SW, and 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., (Chantilly, Va)
When: Check calendar for dates, 11 and 11:30 a.m.
Online: airandspace.si.edu

National Postal Museum
Toddlers ages 2 and 3 will hear stories, do activities, sing and explore the gallery. Story times have themes such as shapes, colors and sizes. Plus, come for the stories and stay for the stamps and other artifacts from the U.S. Postal Service’s 241-year history.

Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave., NE 
When: Mondays at 10:30 and 11 a.m.
Online: postalmuseum.si.edu

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Listen to stories from books about Mount Vernon and its inhabitants, George and Martha Washington, the country’s first First Couple. A Q&A session follows the books. This is included with admission, which costs $20/adult, $9/ child ages 6 to 11 and nothing for children 5 and younger. Come early or stay later to tour the grounds.

Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. (Mount Vernon, Va) 
When: Daily, 11 a.m. to noon
Online: mountvernon.org

First Studio: Story + Workshop at the Kreeger Museum
Children ages 3 to 5 tour the gallery in groups of 12 or less and hear a story and do an art project. The program costs $10 and pre-registration is required. An adult must accompany each youngster at all times. The museum is home to works by famous artists such as Cezanne, Chagall, Monet, Picasso and Renoir.

Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. (Mount Vernon, Va)
When: Every second Wednesday, 10 to 11 a.m. (next date is July 12)
Online: mountvernon.org

Havre de Grace Maritime Museum
Hear water-related stories during the month of July at this museum dedicated to the sea. Books may include “Make Way For Ducklings” and “Billy Bluefish.” Crafts are included, too. Email hdgmaritimemuseum@verizon.net to register.

Where: Check website for your closest location
When: Thursdays in July, 10:15 a.m.
Online: hdgmaritimemuseum.org

Other Spots

Heure de conte (Story Time)
Kids pick up foreign languages quickly. Give them a nudge toward picking up a new tongue at the story time in French at Alliance Française, the oldest network of French language and cultural centers in the world. Fun fact: The D.C. alliance was founded in 1905.

Where: 2142 Wyoming Ave., NW
When: June 27 and July 11, 1:30 p.m.
Online: francedc.org

Kinderhaus Toys
The toy store in Arlington’s popular Clarendon neighborhood welcomes baby book enthusiasts four mornings a week for a 30-minute storytime. Parents may want to put blinders on their little ones to keep them from doing a little shopping, too.

Where: 1220 N. Fillmore St. (Arlington, Va.)
When: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:30 to 11 a.m.
Online: kinderhaus.com

Hooray for Books
Targeted to 3- through 6-year-olds, the Wednesday storytime at this independent bookseller includes new picture books and some classics. Friday and Saturday mornings are for a slightly younger set – ages 0 to 3. They’ll enjoy board and picture books plus sing songs and learn fingerplays. Note: Strollers are not allowed in the store during storytime.

Where: 1555 King St. (Alexandria,Va)
When: Wednesdays at 5 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.
Online: hooray4books.com

Kids Corner at CityCenterDC
Take a break from shopping at the posh new CityCenterDC to find a spot at the park and listen to a 30- to 40-minute story time. In addition to reading books, a D.C. Public Library librarian will also lead the group in songs, rhymes and fingerplays. Note: This is an outdoor event, and it’s hotter than 85 degrees or raining, it will be canceled. One more note: You can always hit Milk Bar for cookies, cake truffles and brekkie cups.

Where: 10th and H St., NW
When: Wednesdays through Sept. 27, 10:30 a.m.
Online: citycenterdc.com

Stories from Strawberry Park at Mosaic District
Kids 10 and younger take a seat on the new turf lawn and participate in live performances by storytellers. In poor weather, find the show inside the Angelika Film Center.

Where: 2905 District Ave. (Fairfax, Va)
When: First and third Thursday of the month, 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. (check calendar)
Online: mosaicdistrict.com

Summer Storytime at Barnes and Noble Booksellers
With 18 locations within 50 miles of D.C., it shouldn’t be too hard to find one offering a storytime this summer. Activities and crafts follow the events. Upcoming books include “Be Quiet!” and “Pig the Pug.”

Where: Check website for your closest location
When: Check website
Online: barnesandnoble.com

Pottery Barn Kids
The store with some adorable décor offers a weekly storytime with activities. Sign up to become a Pottery Barn Kids Book Club member and get a gift after attending five events.

Where: 4756 Betheda Ave. (Bethesda, Md); 8004L Tysons Corner Center (McLean, Va); 11841U Fair Oaks (Fairfax, Va); 2002 Annapolis Mall, (Annapolis, Md)
When: Tuesdays, 11 a.m.
Online: potterybarnkids.com

Do you have a favorite storytime? Tell us about it in the comments.

–Stephanie Kanowitz