With Julian in preschool now, I’ve had to rethink my afternoons. He’s often tired when I pick him up — and will ask to just “go home and read books.”
The problem is, I have two other kids who are stir crazy and want to go somewhere.
My solution? The library. Half Price Books. Joseph Beth. Blue Manatee.
Of all the bookstores in Cincinnati, Blue Manatee is the only one just for kids. And I love it for that.
Walk into this brightly painted building, and you’ll be met by friendly booksellers, comfy couches, a huge story time area, educational toys — and shelves and shelves of kids’ books. There are lots of places for kids to cuddle up with a book — hidden corners, small tables, purple couches and even inside the kid-sized train at the front of the store.
I’ve found books here that I didn’t think I could actually find in a store, from older authors like Virginia Lee Burton and Jane Hissey, to the full collections of local writers like Loren Long and Will Hillenbrand.
Speaking of which — Blue Manatee attracts the best children’s authors. We saw Sherri Duskey Rinker read Steam Train, Dream Train after it was published — and she signed J’s copy of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. There have been some really well-renouned writers at blue manatee, such as Dav Pilkey of the Captain Underpants series, Carl Hiassen, Lois Lowry and the aforementioned Will Hillenbrand and Loren Long. In fact — Long will be reading from his new book, Little Tree, on Nov. 14! I will definitely be taking the kids to meet the author of their beloved Otis books.
In addition to hosting acclaimed authors, Blue Manatee is always putting together fun, kid-friendly events. There are themed craft and activities nearly every week, in addition to regular story times, foreign language story times and music classes. Many of these are free; some of the crafts cost a couple dollars per child.
The last thing I’ll mention about Blue Manatee are the store’s eponymous boxes. Essentially, you can compile a box of age-appropriate books, which will then be packaged in an adorably decorated brown box and delivered to your recipient. Or, you can have the knowledgeable staff hand-pick a box for you. With Christmas on the horizon, a Blue Manatee box would be a fun option for out-of-town grandparents!
As the weather gets colder, Blue Manatee is likely to become a regular in our weekly rotation. It’s cozy, it’s kid-friendly — and it’s local!
Blue Manatee is located at 3054 Madison Rd. (right off of Oakley Square), Cincinnati, OH 45209. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday: 12 – 5 p.m.