12 Books to Help Talk About Race and Activism with Your Kids

By Gwen Glazer, a librarian in the Readers Services unit of the New York Public Library.

It’s been almost impossible for adults to process the acts of violence in the U.S. over the last few weeks amid rising racial tensions, let alone explain them to our children. But we can’t let that powerlessness trickle down to the next generation—and books can help.

From simple stories for toddlers about recognizing and accepting our differences to young-adult novels about fighting racism, this reading list offers a few selections for children of all ages to read and talk about with their parents. These aren’t historical books about the Civil Rights movement and school integration, although many excellent book lists include those topics. Instead we've rounded up a dozen books to address social justice and race, with a focus on African-Americans. We hope these titles pave the way for open conversation and empowering us to change our own communities.

The NYPL recently issued its Summer Reading Challenge and Contest, urging kids to read 20 minutes a day, along with an Anti-Summer Slide Guide in partnership with Mommy Poppins to keep kids engaged during the school break. We think these books would make great additions to your summer book bag.

Weekday Picks for LI Kids: STEM Storytime, Movies on the Harbor, July 18-22

There's a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities going on this week, so you're covered no matter what is going on outside. Enjoy STEM storytime in Bellmore, watch a Movie on the Harbor, participate in an archaeological dig at the Maritime Explorium and meet Peppa Pig at Le Play Cafe.

There's even more going on this week, so be sure to take a look at our Long Island events calendar and our Summer Fun Guide. You can also get the best events of the week sent directly to your inbox each week if you sign up for our newsletter.

Weekday Picks: Last Call for Grunion, Cooking at Leonis Adobe, Toy Story, July 18-22

One treat of summer in Los Angeles is something we didn’t have when I was growing up Angeleno: outdoor cinema. Technology has turned what used to be a blurry, difficult to hear experience into something most spectacular. There is nothing quite like enjoying a yummy picnic, followed by a favorite movie. Many of these events are free, and practically every community in the greater LA area has an outdoor movie event. This week, a classic that never disappoints kids or their adults, Toy Story, plays at the Brentwood Country Mart.

The Leonis Adobe in Calabasas dates back to the 1800s and offers a genuine glimpse at our rural days of yore with its Lil Ranchers Days summer activities for kids. This week's edition, “Cooking on the Ranch,” offers more than just food related fun: kids can feed livestock, experience an authentic blacksmith demonstration, and explore the grounds. Sagebrush Cantina, conveniently located next door, has a free lunch for any kids with a coupon from the Adobe.

And this week marks the final run of the season for grunion at Cabrillo Marine aquarium. Something every resident or visitor to our city should experience at least once, a grunion run is a one-of-a-kind natural, nighttime, phenomenon. While grunion can be spotted elsewhere on our shores, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s accompanying movie and egg hatching presentation are worth the drive to San Pedro.

Weekday Picks for Westchester Kids: Teen Olympics, Halloween in July

The abundance of fun activities for Westchester families can be almost overwhelming, what with all the festivals, concerts, films, nature events and more. We’ve helped prioritize all these for you by curating our Event Calendar and compiling our top picks for this week below.

Among our many FREE recommendations is the The Play Group Theatre: Acting Workshop for Children, a two-hour opportunity to practice the craft under the direction of an established thespian; Teen Summer Olympics, with assorted stations challenging “athletes” to stack marshmallows and the like; and Halloween in July, which invites kids to wear costumes and trick-or-treat off-season.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Our Summer Fun Guide is chock full of ideas, and our Event Calendar has even more options!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parties in Westchester and Rockland

Many fans of Harry Potter are eagerly anticipating the long-awaited release of the new series installment—Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—scheduled to launch at midnight on July 31. To help usher in this momentous occasion, some bookstores and libraries are rolling out the red carpet with festive celebrations. We’ve rounded up a bunch happening in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley to help you get your Harry glow on. (While exact details haven’t been announced, we’re holding out hope for exploding bon-bons or fizzing whizzbees.)

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual aficionado, you’ll find both midnight events and others by day. So don your robe, grab your phoenix feather wand and get ready to Apparate to the nearest venue!

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Weekday Fun in NJ: Music Fest, Model Trains, Farm Animals

While back-to-school is a ways off (despite all the store ads), it’s a great week for fun learning opportunities, such as Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip RV Visit, A Child’s View of History and Read & Pick: Blueberries. Summer festivals are in the spotlight this week as well, including Morris County 4-H Fair and XPoNential Music Festival. And don’t forget to check out our Event Calendar for even more options!

Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York Is a Must-See

Letchworth State Park in western New York is called the "Grand Canyon of the East" thanks to the 600-foot deep-river gorge that runs the length of the park, which is dotted with some of the state's most magnificent waterfalls.

An hour outside of Buffalo, a trip to Letchworth is a commitment but well worth the effort. The 17-mile-long park runs along the Genesee River gorge, offering spectacular sights at every bend and turn. Letchworth is a New York state park but has the feel of a national park with amenities that include lodging, fine and casual dining, ranger-led programs, a slate of seasonal outdoor activities, a new, state-of the-art nature center and a major WOW factor. With so much to see and do, it's a fantastic outdoor destination with something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how passive or rugged you like to spend your downtime.  

This popular park was on my family's camping bucket list for many years. We're already fans of local camping and familiar with Hudson Valley hikes a bit closer to home. After it was voted the best state park in the country by USA Today in 2015, we decided to make the six-hour drive from our home in New York City to see what the hype was about. 

Peruse our Family Weekend and Getaway Guide for more travel ideas.

Weekday Picks for Philly Kids: Performances, Pajamas, Playdates July 18-22

Have you ever noticed that summertime weekends fly by, but weekdays seem to drag on? Make the most of the weekdays with a little help from Mommy Poppins Philadelphia. Intermingle fun with work and household chores by participating in some of the intriguing and educational activities found in our Events Calendar.

This week, families can attend local theater productions such as Dennis Flyer Theater's Seussical Jr. or Avon Grove Community Theater's Grease. Gather some friends together for a playdate at Bucktoe Creek Preserve or Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Or, bring your favorite stuffed toy and put on your comfiest pajamas to listen to a story at Brandywine River Museum.

If you are still looking for more ideas, continue reading below for our top weekday picks. Check out our July GoList and search our Events Calendar for even more suggestions.


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