Great Free Fun at Long Island Libraries

From the time my first son was born, I have spent many days at my local library having fun with him and enjoying watching him grow and learn. As the years went on, and I expanded my family by two more children, we have continued to discover and enjoy all the resources the library offers.

Visit the children's room and inquire about classes and programs. Not only does the library have onetime classes, but it usually has programs that run for several weeks. My kids have always loved story time, which includes stories, felt boards and a craft.

We've done Jump Bunch classes, which were tremendously active, fun, and loud, each with a different sports theme—baseball, soccer, football, track.

For the little ones, there's always plenty of singing and hands-on tactile fun in the parent-involved classes.

As the kids get older, the programs change and some of the crafts have been very pretty works of art we decorate the house with for holidays.

There are classes that have lively book discussions with prizes and challenges for the older kids.

Events and Shows
Always check the event calendar online or in a mailing if your library does them. I've been fortunate to take my kids to some wonderful shows. We saw Chinese silk dancers and my daughter got chosen to go up on stage and learned how to use a silk ribbon with flair (okay, it hit her in the face as she tried to wield it, but she tried). And we saw a very fun drumming band where the kids again got to go up and try their talents with various instruments.

One of our best memories was the "Gizmo Guys" juggling and comedy show that my older son still talks about! Where else can you see up-close juggling by people who love to entertain kids and for free?

We recently saw a great mind-reading and illusion show, plus a reptile adventure that had us screaming and squealing when the giant albino python came out! But the tree frogs were cute, and my kids were hysterical when one urinated on a girl's head ( yes, it's true! ). Alligators up close, cockroaches and all other sorts of disgusting, I mean FUN, animals were there, and the kids learned a lot.

Once a month my library offers a movie night where kids can hang out and see a movie on the big screen. It's safe, fun and gets them out of the house. It's also free!

Summer Reading Programs
I'm BIG on reading, as is my daughter fortunately, but with my more reluctant reader boys, the prizes offered during the summer reading programs has kept them reading all summer. Encouraging reading over the summer makes an easier transition to the new school year for everyone from child, to parent to teacher.

Free Museum Passes
This is one of my favorite things about our library! So far only a handful of libraries on Long Island are participating but hopefully more will be lending free passes to area museums as well, so do call your local library and ask if they participate in the museum lending program. With free passes, we have visited quite a few Long Island museums plus a few in the city. It even has botanical gardens available!

Bad-Weather-Day Escape
Oh, those endless cold days in the winter, or sultry steamy ones in the summer,or the gray rainy ones when the kids (and the moms) go stir crazy! I've taken my kids to various libraries in neighboring towns since each one has a children's room with puzzles, games, activities, a drawing area, even toys. Some have fish tanks, action figures and even more importantly, there are usually other children they can interact and play with.

And of course, how can I mention libraries without mentioning checking out books? I'm an avid reader and make sure each of my kids has a stack of library books in their rooms, besides their own collection. I find when I pile them up on the end of the bed, my little ones will grab them and look through more often without prompting. We make sure we read two or three a night. My older kids also are always in the middle of a chapter book with a few lined up on their night stands. There is NOTHING as wonderful as the adventures books can take us on! Instilling a love of reading from a young age will make a life long reader.

Cinema on the Bay at Sunset Park
Sunset Park (Next to Town Dock) - 8:30 PM Pick
Hudson River Kids Online
Facebook - various times Pick
A Hamilton Read-Along
- various times Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides