If you’re like me, you stay faithful to your local Toronto Public Library and rarely venture to another location. However, a recent trip outside our hood to the S. Walter Stewart Library inspired me to start expanding my book-borrowing zone and check out some of the free family-friendly offerings at the city’s 98 branches.

Just west of Coxwell and south of Cosburn in the east end, we found an entire lower level dedicated to young readers. At the centre of it all – a spaceship! Preschoolers will love to climb in and leaf through their newest finds and toddlers can check out all the hands-on stations. There are lots of tables and chairs, a dial-a-story phone, a separate room for reading and programming and two kid-friendly computers where youngsters can listen to stories and follow along with the text. The mini book return box was a particular favourite.

And if you’re not a library lover yet, then let these 10 reasons by The Grid convince you otherwise.


Getting there: Driving, it’s at the corner of Durant Ave and Memorial Park Ave. Free parking lot on north side and free residential parking. On TTC, take the O’Connor bus northbound from Coxwell subway station.

Stroller-friendly: Ramp to the main entrance and elevator to the lower level.

Plan your visit: Check the schedule for Preschool Storytime and Toddler Storytime. (April-May session is wait-listed.) For the next session, register in-person on the first class. Bring a snack (see below) and wear layers (it’s quite warm especially in the kids area, the tank-topped and t-shirted staff agree!)

Snack-friendly: Bring your own, or if you’re desperate there are a few vending machines on the lower level next to the washrooms. There is a section with table and chairs meant just for that (no eating in the library area.) There are some tables in the main entrance as well.

Potty time: Family washroom with change table on main and lower levels.

Not just books: Remember that with a valid adult library card, you can take out a Museum + Arts Pass for your family (2 adults and up to 5 children) for one of Toronto’s arts and cultural attractions for free. All branches have these passes, but only 32 in priority neighbourhoods offer a limited number of those to the popular ones like ROM and the Toronto Zoo. (S. Walter Library is one of those – passes available as of 9am every Saturday. There is usually a line-up right at 9am.)

Go online: KidsSpace has tons of resources for young readers – games, e-books and reading recommendations. Check out their top picks for kids five-and-under.


S. Walter Stewart Library
170 Memorial Park Ave.