Grand Rapids Public Library adult programming proves storytime isn’t just for children

When you hear ‘storytime,’ you might think of children sitting around on the floor in a circle, but that’s not always the case. With the Grand Rapids Public Library’s new program, Adult Storytimes, the scene looks a bit different. Adults are invited to enjoy short stories read aloud by special guests, while enjoying appetizers and drinks at Golden Age at the Creston Brewery.

Branch Manager at the Yankee Clipper branch Andrea Cosier has been with the Grand Rapids Public Library for almost five years. She helps with reference questions, plans programs, supports staff and helps with storytimes. 

“I’ve been doing storytimes for kids for probably 15 years now,” Cosier says, “but adults like to be read to as well. We, as adults, have been sitting around the campfire, telling stories for a long time.”

For her, Adult Storytimes go beyond the stories themselves. She says the program, funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation, aims to build community. “It’s just a really great way to get together with your neighbors, build a little bit of community and have a good time.” It’s not always easy to make friends as adults, but Cosier says this is one way to do just that. Adult Storytimes help people make connections with other strangers — but strangers who might share similar interests.

“It’s a great way to get out there and meet new people. Everybody is there to have a great time and enjoy stories. It’s a no-pressure situation for grownups to meet new friends and find new authors they didn’t know they enjoy.”

Unlike book clubs, this series requires “less homework,” says Cosier. “Everybody can just show up; you don’t have to do any reading before you get there. You can just come, enjoy drinks and snacks and have some really fun stories told to you.”

Adult Storytimes kicked off Sept. 12, with host Brittany Devon, a Civic Theatre improv teacher. Cosier says the turnout and response to their event series kickoff was positive, with around 40 people in attendance. 

“The audience was engaged. There were people that didn’t know each other at the beginning, but were laughing together at the end. It’s really lovely to see,” she says. “It went really well. The first of the series sometimes can be the smallest one because people haven’t heard about it, so we’re expecting it to grow. We started off strong though; it was wonderful.”

When the time came for curating the lineup of special guest hosts, the Library aimed to include a variety of local entertainers and figures. 

Adult Storytimes take place the second Monday night of the month, from now until December. Oct. 11 from 6:30-7:30 p.m., local drag artist Star Buxom joins for some Halloween fun and will share scary tales and outrageous outfits. Costumes are encouraged. 

Nov. 14, award-winning storyteller and actor John Steven Crowley performs stories drawn from the African American experience. Dec. 12, local educator, theater practitioner and Library staff member Matt McKay, will read stories about friends and families to celebrate holiday gatherings.

Cosier says Library staff members join the special guest host, by reading four or five stories per night during the hour-long event. Attendees are able to enjoy free appetizers and enjoy a cash bar on the second floor of the Golden Age at the Creston Brewery. 

“We were looking for a place with enough space for larger crowds, something that was a little less formal than some of our library meeting rooms, and a place that had a Library presence, but hadn’t had as many Library programs taking place in that area,” Cosier says. “The Van Belkum Branch Library is just down the street from Creston Brewery, but that library is quite small. We couldn’t do this program there, but the neighborhood definitely supports programming, so we were able to partner with Creston Brewery.”

Looking ahead, Cosier hopes the series continues to grow with its “thinking out of the box” when it comes to Library programming. “Hopefully, we can continue to offer these kinds of programs that bring the community together, give them a chance to gather and enjoy each other's company. Hopefully, we can get some more local performers if we continue this series and continue to have a good time.”

All Library events are open to the public, regardless if they have a library card or not. The Adult Storytimes program is free of charge and there is no registration required. 

Photo courtesy of Andrea Cosier, Grand Rapids Public Library

Sarah briefly lived in Grand Rapids years ago, before moving back to Lansing, but that West Michigan love never really left her heart. Through her coverage on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, and anything mitten-made, she’s committed to convincing any and everyone -- just how great the Great Lakes state is. Sarah received her degrees in Journalism and Professional Communications, and can be reached at [email protected]
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.