- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2002

Sure, a child can get a copy of "Cat in the Hat" or "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at any bookstore. He even can point and click online to have it shipped directly to his doorstep.

A bookstore dedicated to children's books, however, offers much more than just the reading material. It has employees who know what books children like to read. It has books especially selected for young readers. It has story time to instill a lifelong love of reading and book clubs for older children to share their literary knowledge.

"This is such a magical place," says Jonaa Darrie of Alexandria. Ms. Darrie takes her children, Ireland, 3, and Lily, 9 months, to A Likely Story, a children's bookstore in Old Town, several times a week. They are regulars at the free Wednesday morning story times, she says.

"My mom was a big collector of books, and now that I am a mom, we come here. It is a great place to take kids on an adventure."

A Likely Story is crammed with titles, from board books for toddlers to classics for older readers, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series. Some of the shelves are arranged according to interest, with sections on topics such as artists, horses and black history.

Trish Brown, a saleswoman at A Likely Story for 10 years, says the store has its little customers in mind when purchasing.

"A lot of thought goes into children's books when the whole store is devoted to children only," she says.

Laurie Tasharski discovered A Likely Story when her son was a toddler. Seven years later, she works part time at the store.

"We know what books are special," she says.

Ms. Tasharski says she enjoys picking books for customers who don't quite know what they want.

"Grandmothers come in and just tell us their grandchildren's ages and interests," she says. "We can always find a book for them."

Story time is an opportunity to hear old favorites and new offerings at a children's bookstore. A Likely Story has a cozy nook where about two dozen children and adults can sit for a story.

On a recent Wednesday, toddlers and preschoolers gathered to sing songs ("Baa-baa black sheep" was a big hit) and hear familiar animal tales. On Saturdays, the store also has a more formal event, when a craft activity reinforces the theme of a book.

Recent events have included visits from costumed storybook characters, such as the Wild Thing (From "Where The Wild Things Are") and Corduroy the bear. Upcoming events include a look at dinosaurs on Thursday, when children will hear a few dinosaur stories and create some of their own, and May flowers on Saturday, when children will hear books about flowers and then will pot a few seedlings.

"I think being exposed to books really helps some kids love reading," Ms. Brown says. "They love the rhyming, hearing language and predicting what is going to happen."

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