Days out: Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, London

Stratford is probably best known for being home to the Olympic Park, a place where British athletes made the dreams of a nation come true.

The success of Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and co at London 2012 was like a fantastical book come to life, with the happiest of happy endings. 

A short walk from the stadium, you will find another magical place where stories come alive.

Discover is a children’s centre dedicated to fostering a love of storytelling, language and literature from as young an age as possible.

It does this through a combination of wonderful play areas, immersive exhibitions themed around books and authors, and storytelling sessions.

Baby Bookworm and I paid a visit this week with some friends. His little pals were coming up for seven months and two years, but there was something for all three of them to enjoy. Children up to 11 are catered for too.

The main area is called Story World and is a zone for imaginations to run riot. It was designed by illustrator Jim Field of Oi Frog fame. There’s also an outdoor play area called Story Garden.

However, the demands of nap times and lunch meant we didn’t get a chance to explore it properly. There were two other features that we had on our radar.

The first was the storytelling session for babies and toddlers. The book of choice was So Much by Trish Cooke, a jolly and heartwarming tale about a family gathering.

The 20-minute session took place in a cosy room with a sparkly carpet and comfy cushions, in a small group so that the children were not overwhelmed. You have to reserve a place but there is no extra charge.

Our Story Builder (as the staff are known) used props and actions to bring the book to life and capture the little ones’ attention. 

She was fantastic and Baby Bookworm seemed to enjoy it, despite barely sitting still the entire time…

Next we had a little run about in the temporary geometric playground by artist Kristi Minchin, which he thought was the bees knees.

However the main attraction was The Fantastic World of Dr Seuss exhibition. The basement area has been transformed into a mixed up land of his best loved books – The Cat In The Hat, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Like the storytelling, you reserve a timed place so there’s no queuing and no overcrowding – a real plus.

The session started and concluded with a reading from his books, but it was no trouble if little people wanted to roam (as BB did). There were building blocks to stack, green eggs to roll and Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes to don.

I think he would have got a lot more out of it if he were older (my cousin visited the week before us and her seven and three year olds had a whale of a time) but he definitely had fun.

Unfortunately the exhibition finishes tomorrow (3 September). But fear not – in October, the doors open to A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures, a celebration of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best loved works.

A perfect excuse for us to go back!

Entry to Discover costs £6.50, free for under-2s. A family ticket is £22. Charges apply for some special events. The centre has a cafe, buggy parking and free lockers. Find out more at

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