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Free and unique summer programs for families at Long Island libraries

Story Time at the Sea Cliff Beach meets

Story Time at the Sea Cliff Beach meets every Wednesday through the summer. Credit: Dan Dipietro

School's out for summer, and if you're looking for some free fun to keep your family entertained, you don't have to go far. Many libraries in Nassau and Suffolk are hosting unique and innovative events and programs with kids in mind throughout July and August. Be sure to check your local library's website for more information.


Freeport Memorial Library (144 W. Merrick Rd.): The library's Summer Reading Club theme this year is Universe of Stories. To have a little fun in the Children's Room, librarian Roseann Podias will hide a Barbie doll who the library named Astronaut Annie. She also created galaxy poster with a photo of astronaut Barbie. "When a child finds the doll, he or she can put a planet sticker on the poster so that Annie has many places to visit in outer space, and bring the stories back with her," she said. Similar to Elf On the Shelf, Annie will be hidden in a different spot each day. Kids can register and begin reporting their books through Aug. 10. At the end of the summer, the library will tally the total number of books read by students from each elementary school. The school that has read and reported the most books gets a trophy to keep in their library for the entire school year. More info: 516-379-3274,

Glen Cove Public Library (4 Glen Cove Ave.): At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, kids ages 3 and older can learn about mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in the library's Animals Alive event, presented by the Alley Pond Environmental Center. At 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, kids can check out the Animals of the Universe event, presented by Green Meadow Farm. The hands-on program will feature frogs, bugs, reptiles, a chicken, bunnies and more; animals can be safely touched in their petting tubs. More info: 516-676-2130,

Great Neck Library (159 Bayview Ave.): Kids ages 13 and older can participate in the Experience Virtual Reality (VR) event 3-9 p.m. the last Thursday of each month (July 25, August 29, September 26). Learn about VR through the library's Oculus Go and Oculus Rift VR devices, and try your own experience whether it's walking in outer space, diving on a shipwreck, checking out the wild west, visiting the Great Wall of China and more. The library prefers pre-registration; if space is available walk-ins are welcome. More info: 516-466-8055,

Manhasset Public Library (30 Onderdonk Ave.): The Buzz of the Beekeeper event kicks off 3:30-4:30 p.m. on July 17. Kids in first through sixth grade will learn about pollination, food and flowers from Gerald Raffa, a beekeeper who maintains multiple hives at his home and at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum. He will be sharing some of the tools he uses, like the beekeepers suit, and a small hive (without the bees). Raffa will teach the kids how to do the "Wiggle Waggle," a real dance the bees do to communicate with other bees. Kids will also have the opportunity to suggest names for his 10 Queen bees. Siblings entering kindergarten are well. Caregivers are welcome, but not required to stay. More info: 516-627-2300,

Merrick Library (2279 Merrick Ave.): The Outer Space Carnival will take place 4-6 p.m. on July 18. Hosted by the librarians and teen volunteers, the carnival will include space-themed game stations, such as spin the wheel, asteroid toss, giant bowling pins and more. There will be a face painter, cotton candy and refreshments. The event is open to children of all ages; registration is not required. More info: 516-377-6112,

North Merrick Public Library (1691 Meadowbrook Rd.): On Aug. 9, the library will feature a Starlab Inflatable Planetarium. An experienced teacher will provide stories and explanations as kids learn about the night sky inside the portable planetarium. Children in kindergarten through third grade can attend at 6:30 p.m., kids in fourth grade and older at 7:30 p.m. Registration is required and begins Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. More info: 516-378-7474,

Port Washington Public Library (1 Library Dr.): Port Washington residents can borrow a variety of fun, outdoor items throughout the summer. For 14 days, residents can take out a guitar or a ukulele, a telescope and a bird-watching kit, which includes field glasses and a pocket guide. Also on loan from the library: An American Girl doll and a Roku. More info: 516-883-4400,

Sea Cliff Library (281 Sea Cliff Ave.): Each Wednesday throughout the summer, the Sea Cliff Library hosts an hour-long storytime on the beach that begins at 10:30 a.m. The opening story is always "Strega Nonna," followed by a different fairy tale each week, for example, "Three Little Pigs," "Fisherman and His Wife" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." According to librarian Ann DiPietro, "all the tales are given a special Sea Cliff twist." There will be audience participation, props, costumes, singing and music. After the story, kids can create a nautical themed craft. The program runs through Aug. 14. More info: 516-801-3402,

Uniondale Public Library (400 Uniondale Ave.): Mondays throughout the summer from 11:30 a.m. to noon, kids can participate in around-the-world stories and activities: Miss Asha on India (July 8), Miss Mirian on Ecuador (July 15), Miss Sheila on Ireland (July 22), Miss Ilgar on China (July 29), Miss Deborah on Germany (Aug. 5) and Mr. Cubas on El Salvador (Aug. 12). Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to noon from July 10 through Aug. 14 will feature Black and African American culture stories and activities. Lunch will be provided after each session. Participants must register online. More info: 516-489-2220,


Babylon Public Library (24 South Carll Ave.): Families with children up to fifth grade can head to The Babylon Village Gazebo to view "The Kid Who Would Be King" from 8 to 10 p.m. on July 25. The library in conjunction with the Babylon Arts Council will be providing the movie and snacks. More info: 631-669-1624,

Copiague Memorial Public Library (50 Deauville Blvd, Copiague). Teens with a Copiague Library card can sign up for the Escape the Space Zombies event on Aug. 2. Similar to an Escape Room, participants have to solve the mystery of the Zombie Space Invasion. The game features puzzles that include coding, math skills and literacy, according to librarian Stefanie Gangone. The clues will be strategically hidden throughout the library's auditorium. Registration is required. More info: 631-691-1111,

East Islip Public Library (381 East Main St.): Kids can connect with nature in the library's Discovery Backyard. This learning space features planters for kids to garden, a sand table, magnifying glasses to examine pine cones, shells and other outdoor finds, a water play area, a chalkboard and more. There's also a bench for children to sit and read. The Discovery Backyard is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although it may close at times for programs or weather. Families can also borrow a bocce set, badminton, Giant Jenga, Cornhole and more fun outdoor games. More info: 631-581-9200,

Elwood Public Library (1929 Jericho Tpke., East Northport): On July 11 and Aug. 15 from 4 to 4:30 p.m., families can meet at Elwood Park for a storytime with music, finger plays and games. If it rains, the event will be held in the library. Registration is not required. More info: 631-499-3722,

Floyd Memorial Library (539 1st St, Greenport): Families can meet at the library on July 30 at 9:30 a.m. and walk together to Mitchell Park to hear stories by the librarians, a ride on the carousel and an ice cream treat. Registration is required. Also, children ages 3 and older can design their own fish print shirts on  Aug. 9 at 10:30 a.m. Kids can paint a fish and then press it onto a shirt. Participants must provide their own white shirts. Registrations is required. More info: 631-477-0660,

John Jermain Memorial Library (201 Main St., Sag Harbor): This summer, librarians will be bringing the library to different locations with their Book Bike. The mobile program will feature books, story times and more. The schedule varies, but the Book Bike will possibly make pit stops at the Long Wharf, Havens Beach and other locations near the library. More info: 631-725-0049,

Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library (407 William Floyd Pkwy., Shirley): Kids can take a self-guided, virtual tour of the Tri-Hamlet community. Using a map created by the library, families can explore historic places and some hidden sites of the Mastics, Moriches and Shirley area, such as the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, Manor of St. George, Smith Point Bridge, Little Red School House and many more spots. After visiting the locations, report back to the library to be entered into a raffle for each site visited, which will be drawn on Aug. 23. The library is also hosting a community get together to build sand castles at Smith Point Beach at 6 p.m. on July 25. Families can meet the library staff at the beach at the bottom of the steps by Tiki Joe's. All sand castle supplies will be provided, or bring your own. Each person must be registered using a MMSC Library card; the program is open to the first 50 attendees. More info: 631-399-1511,

Middle Country Public Library (101 Eastwood Blvd, Centereach): On Aug. 10 the NASA@My Library Model Rocket Launch event will take place at the Centereach Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Families can watch a model rocket launch and enjoy hands-on space activities. No registration required; rain date is Aug. 24. The Middle Country Public Library is also has the Nature Explorium, an outdoor learning space with areas for digging and playing with dirt, climbing and crawling with wooden logs, building with wooden blocks, art and music using natural materials, planting and a water section. More info: 631-585-9393,

Patchogue-Medford Library (54-60 East Main St.): From 4 to 7 p.m. on July 23, the library is hosting a foam party in a giant blow-up foam pit to bounce around. It will be located the Carnegie Library lawn and canceled in the event of rain. The Patchogue-Medford Library is also sponsoring bubble and dance parties, crafts and more at the Family Fun Area at Alive After Five events at New Village at Patchogue: Turtle Dance Music (July 11), Darlene Graham (July 25) and Kids Got Talent Show (Aug. 8). More info: 631-654-4700,

Westhampton Free Library (7 Library Ave.): At 6:30 p.m. on July 12 and Aug. 23, kids can participate in a Pokémon Card Swap. Bring cards to battle or trade with other children. Registration is requested. More info: 631-288-3335, 

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