I’ve always liked Chapters bookstores. They have books, places to sit, and the staff leaves me alone when I read stuff and then put it back on the shelves.
Since I’ve had kids, I’ve come to appreciate Chapters even more. Big, reasonably clean, air-conditioned, and no sharp tools for the kids to injure themselves (or anyone else) with.
However, the Chapters Rideau (47 Rideau Street, right downtown at Sussex & Rideau) has a particularly fond place in my heart, for one reason: Thomas the Tank Engine. They have what is, by my standards, a huge Thomas playset in the kids area, on the 2nd floor. I’m not familiar with the whole collection of Thomas toys, but it seems to me they must have all the trains, plus a ton of tracks, bridges, a roundhouse, and so on. There’s plenty of pieces to play with, and lots of space around the play table for more than one kid at a time to get in there and start moving things around.
The tracks are all glued together, and onto the table. This may discourage creativity in designing new railway tracks, but I imagine helps keep things from wandering out of the store, or from falling over and thereby requiring parental hands to put everything back together.
Sometime in the relatively recent past they re-designed the kids area slightly, opening the space by, I think, removing some shelving. There’s now a few extra kid-sized, colourful tables and chairs next to the train set, and, to my delight, some grownup sized chairs. If you’re lucky, you can read something while the kids move Thomas and his friends and frenemies around. There are also bathrooms relatively nearby. I strongly recommend scrubbing everyone’s hands after going anywhere within six feet of the Thomas playset.
But wait, that’s not all! When I used to take my daughter, when she was around a year and a half or so, she greatly enjoyed the escalators in the middle of the store. We would go up, and then down, over and over. They’re got wide steps, and she could navigate them pretty well, including doing the walking-up-the-down-escalator routine. If possible, I suggest going early in the morning before you really have to start dodging people who are actually trying to use the escalators to get to the books.
A little while ago, they added boxes and boxes of scooters and wagons to the kids area. A few are unpacked and available for use. I feel a bit anxious about kids speeding around in a relatively small area, on the 2nd floor, close to the escalators, but, if it buys a few more minutes of relative calm …
Needless to say, there’s books, too. We tend to use the library more than we buy new books (all our bookcases at home are overflowing, anyhow), but it’s a great place to pick up a birthday or baby shower present. Who doesn’t like books? At least, if you have the space for them…
Zach is a dad to a four-year old girl and a two-year old boy. He doesn’t blog but he is married to Capital Mom who does.