Storytime for ALL
Area Libraries Offer Summer Activities for Kids of All Ages
Across the Merrimack Valley, libraries are offering young patrons a full slate of programs this summer that appeal to a wide variety of interests.
Visitors can attend traditional storytimes, participate in the annual statewide summer reading program, or choose from events ranging from cooking and creating art to STEM and visiting with animals.
“Libraries are evolving into community centers where programming for all ages is a big focus,” says Sara Dempster, the new head of youth services at the Chelmsford Public Library.
“I can’t speak to all communities, but from what I understand about Chelmsford, it’s really the only place that patrons can go for free programming for children, teens and young adults.”
Dempster is looking forward to a busy summer, during which hundreds of youths will come through the doors.
“We have at least one storytime for each age group every week, a craft program and a special event for children every week, and at least one middle school and/or high school program every week,” Dempster says. “Generally, we start planning for summer in January, and our youth services staff collaborates over the course of a few months to plan a whole host of summer programming.”
Among the special events are a puppet show on July 19; a “drive-in” movie for ages 2 to 5 on July 21, when attendees can decorate a cardboard box and then use it as a vehicle to watch the movie; and a “make your own delicious vanilla ice cream” event for ages 6 to 10 on Aug. 16.
Dempster expects the July 26 program presented by Boston’s Museum of Science will draw a crowd, as well. “Blizzard! Outwit the Elements!” is a hands-on workshop where attendees can “design and test ways to protect people from snowstorms and avalanches,” she says. “The activities explore every part of the engineering design process, including opportunities to use test results to modify the designs and then test them again and again.
“Our community really loves programs about science — and anything that involves food.”
Farther up the Merrimack Valley in Newburyport, young adult librarian Emely MacIntosh begins planning the summer schedule for teens in March.
“Librarians work really hard to help build and strengthen communities. When I organize my teen programming, I try to reach as many communities as possible,” she says. “Some kids love STEM, some love art, others are really into food. I try to create programs that appeal to specific groups, but also create a space where teens can just come and try new things.”
In 2017, 147 teens registered for the summer reading program in Newburyport — a significant increase from the year before, MacIntosh says.
Among the many offerings this summer:
On July 12, students in grades 6 to 12 can create their own Operation-type game and on July 13, they can partake in a pizza tasting, sampling slices from different Newburyport eateries. On July 19, the library will host a teen murder mystery party, an interactive event in which teens will take on the roles of characters and solve the case.
For younger children, there will be a magic show on July 12, sessions of candy bingo in July and August, and a “Thursday tech time” on Aug. 23. Families can stop into the library from
2 to 4 p.m. on July 20 to play a life-size game of Candy Land.
Last summer, about 1,100 kids signed up for the summer reading program in Newburyport, Allison Driscoll, children’s services librarian, says.
In Methuen, young visitors to Nevins Library can attend a wide variety of dance, music and educational programs during their months off from school.
On July 10, students in grades 1 to 4 can “Dance Caliente” and learn how to do the merengue, cumbia, Argentine tango, and salsa. Parents and children in grades 3 to 6 can compete in a bocce tournament on July 20, and kids ages 4 to 8 can enjoy a song and story performance by Davis Bates & Roger Tincknell on July 24.
Also at Nevins, the Tanglewood Marionettes will stage “Hansel and Gretel” for first- through sixth-graders on July 26. The “Jungle Jim: ’80s Rock the Library” balloon show will enthrall 4- to 9-year-olds on July 31. The Museum of Science will host two sessions of a hands-on rocket and space exploration workshop on Aug. 9 for first- through sixth-graders.
End of summer celebrations at Nevins will feature a bubble show on Aug. 16 for first- through sixth-graders, and a “Toddlerbilly Concert” for 2- to 5-year-olds on Aug. 17.
For more information and full calendars of offerings, visit:
Chelmsford Public Library
Newburyport Public Library