Parenting can feel a bit extra these days. Every holiday seems to require magic. (Did you construct a leprechaun trap this year? Bet you did.) School and after-school activities seem to require a whole lot of time speeding here and there. You spend hours researching and mulling over which summer camp to send your kid to.
There’s no shame in any of it. You’re trying your best to give your kid the best. But some of the best moments aren’t the type that need to be elaborately orchestrated. They come from timeless activities like reading a book or singing a nursery rhyme passed down from generations.
Local libraries are hidden gems, offering programming for kids of all ages, from infants who need help clapping their hands during “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to teens with a passion for art.
Pop into these seven Hamptons libraries that designed programs with the next generation in mind.
This little-library-that-could has long offered excellent programming for kids of all ages. They are in the midst of proposing a $9.5 million two-story expansion and renovation (fingers crossed for approval) in order to offer even more programming for island children and adults alike. Weekly story time, take-and-make crafts, movies and even fun classes, like how to make bubble tea, are part of the regular roster.
Established in 1897, East Hampton Library is one of Long Island’s oldest. But it wasn’t afraid to hit refresh in 2014 when it opened a sprawling 6,800 square-foot expansion, 4,000 square feet of which went to a children’s room. In other words, if you’re a new parent, this isn’t your childhood East Hampton Library children’s room. There are colorful spots with iconic East End décor like windmills and lighthouses, as well as an added 10,000 more books along with reading nooks and tables. Programming includes reading with a side of bubbles or crafts for babies and toddlers and after-school board game events for teens.
This Bridgehampton library is a designated “Family Place Library,” meaning it has programs specifically designed for babies and children, a five-week parent-child workshop with fun games for littles and informative sessions for parents run by community resource professionals and multimedia materials for young kids and parents. Programs include story time on Saturdays, rhyme time for toddlers and foodie fun for older kids, like baking St. Paddy’s Day-themed shamrock cookies.
Hampton Bays’ Public Library has programming to support your kid throughout childhood. Favorite programs include story times for the tiniest tots. Eco-friendly fun, such as making crafts and robots from recycled materials, is ideal for the K-3 crowd. And teens live for roleplay Fridays, which engage them with otherworldly fun like pretending to be vampires or Sci-Fi characters. Virtual story times and “take-and-make” crafts, which allow parents to grab materials for their kiddos to create something fun, like bunnies for Easter at home, are also available.
Sag Harbor’s Main Street is known for its now iconic buildings, easy access to the water and dining, shopping and art. But the library is a gem in its own right, particularly for local families. Get your little one started on not one but two languages with bi-lingual story time — some research shows it can help with learning. Crafts, sensory play and songs are also mixed into programs catered toward toddlers to school-age kids. Creative writing meet-ups for teens allow for supportive and safe self-expression.
“Lap time stories,” “songs and stories” and ”Mother Goose on the Loose” (story time and rhymes, sometimes with musical instruments) are some of the many programs geared toward the littlest learners. There’s also a LEGO Club for kids who adore building (K-5) and “Jump Bunch” for kids ages two to four with boundless energy.
STEAM activities are aplenty here. Think crafts and science experiments geared toward kindergarteners to teens. For tinier minds and hands, there are read-alouds, some of which have seasonal or holiday flare, like Easter-themed lessons on the ABCs. Quintessential baby-and-me class items like tunnels, mirrors and soft mats add to the fun for crawlers and new walkers.
One final pro tip: Many libraries often offer discounts on museum and attraction tickets, such as Long Island Aquarium. Inquire at the front desk to possibly score a sweet deal on some of the Island’s bigger-ticket fun.
Also, keep in mind that for all of these South Fork libraries, it’s smart to check in advance on policies. Some programs may require a library card or residency in the area.