Bring Books to Life at Story Explorers

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Contributed by Annabelle King:

The magic of reading and story-telling comes to life when you enter Story Explorers in Richmond.  Based in a beautiful old fashioned corner shop, you feel like you are walking into an episode of Mr Benn.  Story Explorers is the brainchild of Esther Rendell, an ex primary school teacher who wanted to instill a love of reading into young children.  There are no fancy gimmicks here, the classes are based on the simple old fashioned concept of books and reading.

Esther’s pre-school classes focus on a different theme each session, ranging from Farms to Space, or Pets to Babies.  The stories and activities then reflect this theme, creating a common thread for the children to follow.  Activities vary each week and may include small world play such as a farmyard with animals, dolls to dress up or tea parties, puzzles, water and sand, painting or her fabulous home made playdough.

The seventy five minute session is a combination of free play and storytelling with Jessie and John, the Story Explorer mascots.  There is lots of interaction and singing, bringing the stories to life and making them magical for children.  So if your child is not one to sit still and listen for long, have no fear, there is something for everyone.

What is lovely about this place is the intimacy of it.  Never more than ten children in a class, the stories are read by Esther or Gemma, keeping the feel of the place very personal.  Story Explorers also runs fabulous book-making courses for older children in the school holidays (group ages 4-8 and 6-10).  Running over three days, children research and create their own books from scratch, again working to a different theme depending on the particular course.  Previous themes have included Fact to Fiction, Moving Parts, Joke Books and a wonderful A-Z themed book.

Esther and her team also host parties for 2-8 year olds offering a range of different themes which then form the basis of the party, based on the structure above.  For example you can have a ‘Magic’ party, reading Winnie the Witch stories, making a magic wand and learning to do magic tricks.  A wonderful way to encourage your child to love books and to bring the stories to life in an engaging way.  Maximum 12 children per party.

After Easter, Story Explorers are introducing a class for 1-2 year olds where they will recommend suitable books for your child’s age group.  They also have a very charming second hand book section at the front of the shop.

To find out more visit about Story Explorers, please visit:

This posting was contributed by Annabelle King who lives in Shepherds Bush.  After a crazy ten year career in advertising, she gave it all up to be bossed about by her three little girls. Her blog The Bush Babies was started in 2007, where she writes about the highs and lows of parenthood and raising three little girls in London.


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