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Best of Nashville

Kids

Kids Writers' Choice 

Best of Nashville 2012

click to enlarge kidsmag.jpg

BEST STORY HOUR: PARNASSUS BOOKS
There are plenty of worthwhile story times in town — the downtown library, in particular, with plays and puppets to boot — but there is just something about crowding into the back corner of Parnassus, where little ones can easily scoot through the special kid-sized entrance and adults feel appropriately out of place, to hear a book read aloud. The tight quarters, the closeness of hundreds of books, the occasional discordant plunk of keys as a toddler fumbles errantly on the piano in the hallway — all of these contribute to the atmosphere. To be inside this store — which has so energized Nashville's literary community and been instrumental in bringing an amazing roster of writers to our city — watching the next generation of readers ooh and giggle and partake in that most essentially human activity, storytelling, is really kind of magical. —STEVE HARUCH

click to enlarge Best Story Hour: Parnassus Books - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST SPOT FOR A FAMILY PICNIC: THE FARM AT FONTANEL
It's got tables, for eating. It's got a creek, for wading. It's got forest trails and sprawling acreage, for exploring. And unlike other picnic sites, this one has Amico's pizza available on site if you don't feel like lugging a basket. Plus it's far enough away that it feels like a special occasion, yet it's only about 10 minutes from downtown out Whites Creek Pike. —JIM RIDLEY

BEST KIDS' SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM: TIME TO RISE
Know a rising fourth-grader who could benefit from summertime academic enrichment, sports, field trips and fun? The 20-year-old nonprofit — operating through the YMCA's Urban Services Youth Development Center — offers summer structure to at-risk students to help build confidence and character in the classroom all year long. Students participate over three years, on campus at USN, Ensworth, Harpeth Hall, MBA and Harding Academy. —CARRINGTON FOX

BEST CLASSICAL INTRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN: MUSIC, NOISE & SILENCE
The Nashville Symphony's Pied Piper Series works to make classical both exciting and accessible for the pickiest of childhood palates. Music, Noise & Silence perfectly blends the talent of Magic Circle Mime Company with an impressive bill ranging from Mendelssohn to Ives. Good luck making vegetables and nap time this cool. —MATT FOX

BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE YOUR CHILD TO LITERATURE: SOUTHERNFESTIVAL OF BOOKS
Start 'em when they're young. At previous festivals, kids watched while the Stinky Cheese Man came to life, Mama Berenstain Bear fainted in the heat (that was unplanned), and the Cat in the Hat juggled. This weekend, take the kids to War Memorial Plaza and hang out by the kids' stage, where storytellers, songwriters and puppeteers will sneak in education with a side helping of birthday cake honoring a beloved children's book. —GALYN GLICK MARTIN

click to enlarge Best Way to Make Your Kid’s Jaw Drop: Honey’s Vintage Candy Store - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best Way to Make Your Kid’s Jaw Drop: Honey’s Vintage Candy Store

BEST WAY TO MAKE YOUR KID'S JAW DROP: HONEY'S VINTAGE CANDY STORE IN FRANKLIN
in amongst Franklin's antique shops is the cutest candy store ever. And, oh, what a selection. Jawbreakers? Got 'em. Candy cigarettes? Got 'em. Zotz? Ditto. And so it goes. There are all sorts of crazy concoctions for the kids (spray-on Icee candy, anyone?), but there are sweets for more sophisticated palates as well, including Bang Candy Company marshmallows, hand-dipped chocolates and small-batch caramel. Give kids a budget and a half-hour — they'll need the time to make some hard decisions. —GALYN GLICK MARTIN

BEST OFF-THE-WALL PARTY: MY GYM
It may not look like much: a jungle gym, a ball pit, some padded mats. Actually, make that a lot of padded mats. And a zip line. More importantly, the staff at My Gym seem to be having as much fun as the kids they're entertaining, so having your party here — where it's not only OK but encouraged to bounce off the walls — is a parent's crowd-pleasing, energy-burning, contained-chaos dream come true. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST CHILDREN'S THEATER: THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM — 1963
With equal standing as drama or history lesson, Nashville Children's Theatre's production (an adaptation of a Christopher Paul Curtis novel) captured critical events in the civil rights movement. Director Scot Copeland's absorbing production provided a sharply moving portrayal of an African-American family's emotional dynamics amid turmoil and tragedy, with the strong ensemble of eight — led by Shawn Whitsell, Aleta Myles and David Chattam — delivering the palpable teaching moments. —MARTIN BRADY

BEST KIDS' MUSIC PROGRAM: SOUTHERN GIRLS ROCK AND ROLL CAMP
Does your daughter wanna scream like Siouxsie, rock like Chrissie, write like Lucinda and shimmy like Tina? Do you want your kid to date the musician or be the musician? Rock 'n' roll is here to stay — it's time to let the girls play — and the Southern Girls Rock and Roll camp teaches 'em how. —GALYN GLICK MARTIN

BEST KIDS' TENNIS: QUICKSTART COURTS AT CENTENNIAL SPORTSPLEX
Kids' soccer fields are smaller, and their basketball goals are lower, but until recently, their tennis courts were the same size as Venus and Serena's. Two years ago, USTA funded eight regulation QuickStart courts at Sportsplex for the 8-and-under crowd. The net result: Youth tournament brackets are bulging as tiny athletes develop an early love of the game. —CARRINGTON FOX

BEST MOTHER'S LITTLE HELPER: LICE SOLUTIONS
After my 19th nervous breakdown trying to rid the kids of nits, I begged Lice Solutions for help. Their services are not cheap, but the nonprofit organization will work with you because they have no sympathy for the devil(s). They're on a mission to get rid of those nasty blood-suckers once and for all — and in our case, so far, so good. —GALYN GLICK MARTIN

click to enlarge Best Thing That Happens at 11 a.m.: Water at Cumberland Park - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST THING THAT HAPPENS AT 11 A.M.: WATER AT CUMBERLAND PARK
If you happen upon Cumberland Park at 10:55 a.m. on a summer morning and wonder why everyone's standing around an empty expanse of pavement dressed like they're at the beach, just give it a few minutes. When the clock strikes 11, or thereabouts, the water jumps out of the ground, and the average kid velocity goes from zero to free-for-all in about half a second. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST THEATRICAL YOUTH MOVEMENT: ACTORS BRIDGE ENSEMBLE'S SIDESHOW PROGRAM
Spearheading production of offbeat local premieres — and also the originators of the Sideshow Fringe Festival (now 2 years old) — this coterie of younger ABE associates, led by Mitch Massaro and Jessika Malone, has introduced progressive new ideas into Music City's theatrical culture. The Sideshow folks' experimental "job-sharing" approach to their art has proved to be innovative while generating surprisingly worthy results. —MARTIN BRADY

BEST TODDLER-FRIENDLY DINING: PIED PIPER EATERY
are a lot of great kid-friendly restaurants in Nashville, but Pied Piper Eatery goes above and beyond the rest. A dedicated play area stocked with toys — plus servers with the agility of mountain goats, the patience of saints and an understanding to bring kids' plates right away — makes dining at Pied Piper more relaxing than most restaurants. The recent improvement to close off the kitchen to nosy toddlers has not gone unappreciated. Even better: The food's great. —LESLEY LASSITER

BEST RELOCATION: FAIRYTALES BOOKSTORE AND MORE MOVES NEXT TO PIED PIPER CREAMERY
Two words: toys and ice cream. OK, that was three, and here's another: books. If you've found yourself drawn to the Pied Piper Creamery in East Nashville like a '60s teenager to a Crispian St. Peters tune, then your offspring have surely delighted not only in its butterfat-laden goodies but also in its strategically perfect proximity to Fairytales, where shelves full of toys, craft supplies and more toys beckon the little ones to — politely — ask for a little something — educational — to take home after their sweet tooth has been sated. Works the other way around, too. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST FROZEN TREAT: FROZENYOGURT PUSH-POPS, jENI'S SPLENDID ICE CREAMS
Most parents have experienced it: having to watch your progeny meticulously fail at eating an ice cream cone — the little one licking top-down until the sugary vessel has all but disintegrated under a torrent of drool and dairy-melt. While they don't completely solve the mess problem, Jeni's push-pops help minimize it, at least to a degree, by containing the delicious cargo in a sturdier-than-sugar-cones plastic tube. Filled with mango lassi or black currant frozen yogurt, these pops are deliciously practical. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY WINTER SPORT: SKATING LESSONS AT CENTENNIAL SPORTSPLEX
While few children's sports lend themselves to parent participation, skating lessons put kids and parents on equal footing. Enroll in class with your little ones, or watch the lesson and strap on your blades for the free skate afterward. Or maybe not-so-even footing: Your kid has a lower center of gravity and will likely skate a lot better than you. —CARRINGTON FOX



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