Seven Stories: The Centre for Children’s Books

A book reading at Seven Stories, Newcastle upon Tyne

This very special and unique centre – a registered charity whose trustees include Quentin Blake and Philip Pullman – brings books alive for children. Not a conventional bookshop, nor a library, Seven Stories uses every technique possible to provoke children’s imaginations and involve them in the wonder of books and reading.

The lowest floor of this converted warehouse is home to the Creation Station, with various activities aimed at school groups. There is a light and airy café on level one, where a gradual slope takes you to the well-designed reception area on level three, with a dropped counter, hearing loop, and spaces to sit. And this is where you’ll find a wonderful, colourful bookshop, with displays and activities in abundance. But the fun really starts on the next few floors: there are exhibitions on a century of children’s fiction, including a celebration of seventy years of Puffin books and installations of the work of Anthony Browne (former Children’s Laureate) and Jacqueline Wilson. Original manuscripts and artwork are on display too; talks are occasionally given by authors and illustrators; and the magical attic area is a space for storytelling and dressing-up. Seven Stories isn’t just for children – but for anyone who enjoys reading.

Unfortunately, car parking is a problem: there are a handful of designated disabled bays on Lime Street but all of the roads around here are narrow and busy. If you don’t want to battle with this, the yellow Quaylink bus is highly recommended – it gets you to within a two-minute walk or push of the centre. Once you’re here, you’ll find the building interior – designed for children, and with DDA-compliancy in mind – is very accessible. There are low levels, wide passageways for pushchairs, bright colours and lots of contrast: features that work well for children and adults alike. There’s a large lift to all levels, though you may need some patience, as it’s in constant use with buggies. The disabled toilet is on level one.

Food & drink: The fully accessible Cool Cat Café serves child-friendly and healthy dishes that are named after famous children’s books. Head into Newcastle if you’d prefer something more sophisticated.