Books make one of the greatest gifts. I grew up with many books as my parents sold storybooks to primary schools. Books served a special purpose to me as a child. They empowered me with knowledge (before the convenience of Google), and transported me to different countries in my very own imagination. Just like any other Singaporean child, I attended many extra classes (all sorts of tuition lessons, Sunday school, bible study etc). Therefore, reading was my leisure time (on top of imaginative play such as speaking to bolsters and pillows!).
I find myself always gearing towards buying books for Theo. Therefore, we brought him to visit the Barefoot Books Studio in Oxford. It’s located on the Banbury Road in Summertown, Oxford. I wasn’t quite expecting the studio to take up the entire building, so I must say I was pretty impressed!
It is obvious from the layout of the studio that the founders did put in a lot of thought into making the place attractive for kids and parents. The vibrant colours of the display shelves, neatly organised books, finger puppets that compliment the books and sensory tents had me screaming in my head, “THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!”
Here’s Theo learning how to say “hello” in different languages (yaaaahhhh riiiighhhttt).
We were at Barefoot Books for one of their daily FREE storytelling sessions. The sessions are at 11am and 4pm daily, each lasting 30 minutes. During the session, the very animated and engaging storyteller reads a handful of Barefoot Books titles (which I’ve fallen so in love with!) to the children. We read, sang and danced (or rather, jumped a little) during the session. Toddlers seemed to love it, and even babies as little as Theo found it amusing and would concentrate on the story (or just STARE at the storyteller).
There’s also a cafe at the studio. I thought the prices of the mains were overpriced even though they tasted good.
One thing to note – babies under 12 months can enjoy free tapas (baby style – fresh fruits and vegetables) when you order a full main meal. For the first time, Theo was put in a high chair! That meant Dan and I had our hands free!
After lunch, we browsed the store. I love their Rhymes Series boardbooks with fabric illustrations by Clare Beaton. Here’s an example of her work from Garden Rhymes.
They also have books on different cultures (Indian, Jewish, Greek, Chinese etc), the atlas, dinosaurs and so on. Call me old-fashion, but I don’t think the iPad or the convenience of looking things up on the Internet can ever replace the thrill of discovering another world in a book. Yes, it only takes a few seconds to google for an answer. But flipping through books for answers was so rewarding as a child that I wouldn’t want Theo to miss out on that.