Where stories come to life

(Lylah M. Alphonse for The Boston Globe)
By Lylah Alphonse
Globe Correspondent / March 26, 2011

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Walk into the Barefoot Books in the heart of Concord, and it feels a bit like you’re stepping into a story. The sun-drenched front room is filled with brightly colored books and whimsical displays. One corner is cozily outfitted with padded benches and an oversize throne fit for an imaginary king or queen. There’s a window seat that’s perfect for curling up in like a cat. A kid-size clubhouse, with board books, a blackboard, and plenty of chalk, takes up another corner and hides a secret route to a multipurpose room in the back, where classes are held.

Part bookstore, part community center, Barefoot Books offers a welcome respite from the standard stuff kids find at big-box bookstores. For one thing, every book Barefoot sells is one they publish themselves — no characters pulled from popular TV shows or trademarked princesses here. That’s not to say there aren’t princesses or pirates to be found. The place is filled with them, in fact, but the books and CDs that feature them tell tales from faraway lands, and by that we mean actual faraway lands, not mouse-filled castles.

That multipurpose room (also accessible through an adult-size door) is where local experts offer yoga and arts-and-craft sessions, dance demonstrations, and more. If your tots are too tiny for painting, gardening, or other classes, take advantage of the free, read-out-loud story times that are held in the throne area nearly daily. (A full schedule can be found at

The 2,000-square-foot flagship store, which opened last May, has been adding to its offerings lately, and not just in terms of what’s on the shelves. Today is the grand opening of the store’s new pottery-painting studio. Drop by any time from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for themed events, storytelling, and painting (price per piece varies). Tomorrow there’s a free music-and-story session with Tim Seston at 3 p.m.

“This store is more about getting a grand presence and getting awareness for what we’re trying to do, which is bring books to life, to engage in storytelling,’’ Barefoot Books CEO Nancy Traversy told me in an interview last year. “It’s a fun, colorful place to be, and it’s really what we’re all about.’’ LYLAH M. ALPHONSE

Barefoot Books, 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 978-369-1770. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. Prices vary, advance registration is required for some classes, and some events are free.

WHO: Globe correspondent Lylah M. Alphonse and two of her five kids, ages 6 and 4

WHAT: Story time, arts and crafts, and more

WHERE: Barefoot Books, Concord

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