It was nearly like having another child; for nine months, Maggie Pouncey and her husband Matt Miller incubated their business, Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab. Miller, who works in tech, was at a point of transition in his job, so it was perfect timing: Together, he and Pouncey—a fiction writer—drew up a business plan. They opened the bookstore in May 2016.
“When I had children of my own and was sort of rediscovering children’s books from my childhood and coming across the new world of children’s books that I hadn’t seen, those fantasies sort of turned into a children’s bookshop,” Pouncey says. At that time, she asked herself: “What if there was a place just for Brooklyn families?”
Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab is just that, a space designed for both exploration and education—and they’re rapidly expanding their reach. The night before I sat down with Pouncey, the bookshop co-hosted a reading with the Brooklyn Public Library featuring Chelsea Clinton.
But the bookshop itself is small; Pouncey says that “there’s something about our smallness that can make it an especially welcoming place for little ones.” Her goal was to found a shop that could harbor a sense of community.
With their daily weekday storytimes—led by two staff members who sing and read to the kids—Pouncey has seen the same babies show up time and again. “With them eating their snacks, it just feels like an extension of their home,” Pouncey says. Though visitors can pay a small fee for storytime, she says many parents purchase a six-month membership, so they return often.
The Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab is far from just a bookstore—the “Lab,” designed with a one-room schoolhouse in mind, hosts numerous classes. These classes include one where kids ages 2-5 make art inspired by books and another where kids ages 6-9 read from any medium, whether it be poetry, graphic novel, or otherwise, and make a project inspired by it.
Also focused on community, the bookshop has a free all-ages storytime on Sunday mornings, where a local author or illustrator will come in and read: Illustrators will often lead children in a drawing activity or give a demonstration. Pouncey thinks their shop stands out from the average store because “this is a space where you can discover really beautiful books, but it’s also a space where you can learn.”
For more information about the Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab, visit storiesbk.com!