Raven Snook

Raven Snook

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Raven is a writer, editor, performer and mom, who was born and bred in NYC, just like her husband, her mother and now, her daughter. As a writer, she's contributed articles to New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, the New York Post, TV Guide, Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, AOL TV and Moviefone, Parents.com, and worked as an in-house editor for ParentsConnect.com and TimeOutKids.com. As a performer, she's appeared on many downtown stages (sometimes even for pay!), a couple of obscure films and TV shows, and The Maury Povich Show as a female drag queen. She's also the founder of Hot Mama Burlesque, the world's only all-moms burlesque show. After being the NYC editor from March 2011-March 2015, she is now happy to just be a blogger as she pursues additional writing opportunities.

Latest posts by Raven Snook

14 Free Concerts for NYC Kids This July

Thought there were a lot of FREE family concerts in June? Well, NYC's no-cost kiddie music scene really heats up as summer continues. For July, we've rounded up 14 complimentary concerts for families that are worth the time, energy, and effort. The entertainers range from big names to local bands who reflect the diversity of our city.

Most of these performances take place in NYC's attraction-filled parks, meaning you can make a day out of it. So pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket, and soak up some no-cost culture. You can find more family fun in our jam-packed Summer Guide or our list of 100 Free Things To Do This Summer in NYC.

The BFG: How Scary Is Disney's New Movie About Kid-Eating Giants? A Parent Review

Although The BFG isn't as well known as some of Roald Dahl's other books (like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda), it definitely has its share of rabid fans. If your family is among them, you'll be happy to hear that Steven Spielberg is quite faithful to the source material in Disney's new CGI/live-action hybrid, The BFG—though some of the Dahl darkness has been replaced by the director's signature wide-eyed wonder. Even so, for parents of younger children the question is, just how terrifying are those tot-eating giants? We've got the answer (and a photo in case you want to see how your preschoolers react), plus the scoop on whether it's worth splurging for IMAX 3D.

Free Outdoor Family Movies in July for NYC Kids

Every summer in New York City, there are a slew of no-cost outdoor movie screenings. So many in fact, you can probably find at least one FREE alfresco flick per evening somewhere in the five boroughs. But a number of these films are not kid-friendly. If you don't plan ahead, you could end up dropping into Bryant Park for Die Hard, and you really don't want your preschooler repeating Bruce Willis' R-rated variation on yippee ki-yay, do you?

While a few series are aimed specifically at children, including RiverFlicks for Kids, most series sandwich their family films in between grown-up ones. But rather than having you peruse all those different calendars, we've done the work for you. Behold: More than 25 FREE outdoor movies this July, most rated G or PG (with a couple of PG-13 titles for tweens), all organized by date. Expect to find plenty of recent blockbusters such as Minions and Inside Out, with a few classics thrown in.

So pack your picnic, grab a blanket and head out to one of our picks for the best family-friendly alfresco flicks this month.

Finding Dory: How Does It Measure up to Finding Nemo?

You certainly can't accuse Disney•Pixar of rushing things. The sequel to the 2003 animated classic Finding Nemo was 13 years in the making, so evidently the studio was more interested in getting it right than in making a quick buck. That philosophy shows in every aspect of this movie, from its breathtaking underwater visuals to its cute, quirky characters to its moving story, which flips the Nemo plot and has Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) searching for her long-lost parents. Although the heroine suffers from short-term memory loss, anyone who saw Finding Nemo will find the proceedings very familiar. The result is immensely enjoyable for both children and adults, with heartfelt messages about family, self-reliance, and perseverance.

But before you start pushing your stroller to the nearest cineplex, be warned: the PG-rated Finding Dory is a bit darker than its G-rated predecessor (notwithstanding the latter's Bambi-esque death of the mom sequence). Dory and her pals are frequently lost and stuck in scary situations. Can your preschoolers handle it, and—if you have older kids—is it worth splurging on IMAX 3D? No need to go on a fishing expedition: we've got watertight answers.

New Adventure Playground Lets Kids Saw, Hammer, and Build

Ever since I read The Atlantic's article about "adventure playgrounds" a few years back, I've been obsessed with bringing my now-ten-year-old daughter to one. Like many school-age children, she lost interest in slides, swings, and climbing structures around the third grade, but kids won't find any equipment like that in the just-opened play:groundNYC on Governors Island. In fact, they won't find any traditional play equipment at all! But they will discover enticing piles of junk (wooden planks, old tires, broken treadmills and strollers, crutches, even a toilet seat) and tools (saws, hammers, and nails) that they can do anything they want with—the only limitation is their imagination. Perhaps the best part (at least from a child's perspective): No parents are allowed.

Freaked out yet? Don't be. The founders of this amazing, 15,000-square-foot, FREE outdoor creative space are mostly NYC parents with young children, and they've put a lot of thought, time, and money into it. And it's FREE to play, of course!

20 Things To Do with Kids at South Street Seaport

The South Street Seaport, one of New York City's oldest and most historic neighborhoods, is in the midst of a huge transition. Pier 17, although currently closed, is being redeveloped into a massive, multimillion-dollar, high-end retail and dining destination with a rooftop event space. (Target completion date: sometime in 2017!) But even though that part of the Seaport isn't accessible at the moment, there are still plenty of things for families to do, see and experience in this popular downtown Manhattan neighborhood.

A pair of exceptional play spots, including the Imagination Playground, an under-the-radar maritime museum, boat tours, landmarked buildings, a public pier with gorgeous views and a few FREE outdoor festivals make the Seaport a great place to visit this summer with kids—whether you're a tourist or a local.

Best Things To Do with NYC Kids: June GoList

Get your calendars ready! Here are the top 16 things to do with kids in New York City this June, almost all of which are 100% FREE. The first month of summer brings a slew of incredible outdoor activities. But while no-cost festivals, fairs and parades abound, there are a handful of truly spectacular ones that are musts for families.

Many of our favorite FREE annual events take place this month, including Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, the Lower East Side's Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival, the Museum Mile Festival and Governors Island's Figment NYC. Plus we've got the scoop on some new happenings like the opening of a swinging interactive art installation at Brookfield Place, a no-cost Dan Zanes concert and a pair of FREE SummerStage Family Days in Brooklyn.

Free Outdoor Movies for NYC Kids This Summer

New York City will screen hundreds of FREE outdoor movies this summer, many of them just for kids. The city greatly expanded its offerings for the summer of 2016; its Movies Under the Stars series will screen more than 300 films in 2016 on top of the many other popular annual series hosted by various associations, park groups and their corporate sponsors.

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include a family-friendly screening or two. Movies usually begin between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early: The well-known series fill up fast (expect crowds at Bryant Park). Sometimes there is even pre-movie entertainment.

Even if you see a flick you've watched a dozen or so times at home, it's a totally different experience viewing it in the open air alongside several hundred other fans. It's a thrilling, communal event and a summer rite of passage for NYC kids and grown-ups. So pack a picnic, bring your blanket, sit back, relax and enjoy the show at one of these outdoor summer movie series in NYC.

Find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

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