Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it boasts one of the largest and best book festivals in the nation. Thousands of people come to the Book Festival each year to meet acclaimed authors and illustrators from all corners of the country. These authors and illustrators will travel to Providence this October for the opportunity to be featured in The Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books & Authors, hosted by Lincoln School in Providence.

Excitement is already building in the local community and beyond as Providence anticipates welcoming this year’s impressive roster of writers, including R.W. and Zoe Alley, Selina Alko, Mira Bartok, Marc Brown, Gaia Cornwall, Charise Mericle Harper, Alan Katz, Kara LaReau, David Macaulay, Ann M. Martin, Barbara McClintock, Sean Qualls, Jon Scieszka, Melissa Sweet, Chris Van Allsburg, Sarah Weeks and Steven Weinberg. Authors give talks throughout the day, sign books, and enjoy spending time with fans old and new. We will also have food trucks, face painting, tattoos and a hunt to find Waldo!

This year's festival kicks off with the National Premier of the film So B. It (PG-13), written by Festival author Sarah Weeks, followed by a Q & A.

Young readers and their parents have the chance to meet and talk with the authors, have their books personally signed and participate in bookmaking and other crafts. The Festival – to be held on Saturday, October 14th, from 9 am to 5:30 pm at Lincoln School, 301 Butler Avenue, in Providence – celebrates the unique joy that can only be found by opening the pages of a book.

Admission is $5. For a full listing of performances and activities, visit or call Lincoln School at 401.331.9696, ext. 3135.

Who hasn't wandered along the streets of Providence and found their attention drawn to a historic building or unexpected detail that a sparks curiosity? What could have been here before? I wonder what lies beyond that hallway? Steeped in rich history and quirky legend, Providence has countless stories to tell; we just need to know where to find them.

On Saturday, September 23, you can do more than peek through windows and wonder. For the very first Doors Open Rhode Island Festival, in partnership with local sites, curious visitors are given free behind-the-scenes access to over 20 fantastic spaces in the city. No tickets or reservations needed. Explore one venue or fill an entire day of adventure, from the recording studios of RI Public Radio to the gilded ceilings of the State House.

Best Bets for Kids

While all locations are open to families, Doors Open RI suggests these sites as ideal for young visitors, with fewer lines anticipated. For up-to-the-minute information about participating locations, follow social media Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

State House Library, photo by Caroline Stevens

Ladd Observatory, photo by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios

Stephen Hopkins House, photo by Francesca Gallo

RISD Nature Lab, photo by Matthew Clowney

By The Rhode Island Community Food Bank

Here are a couple of fun ways kids can help others during their summer vacation.

Get Their Hands Dirty – Volunteer at a Community Farm

All summer long, the community farms of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank grow fresh produce to distribute to food pantries across the state. The farms are completely run by volunteers, so they need your help!

Community farms provide a great opportunity for families to work together to make a difference. And no experience is necessary.

Each farm has its own scheduled volunteer shifts for planting, weeding and picking. Most of the times are at night and on the weekends to accommodate busy schedules.

Last year, these farms, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, produced 80,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For farm locations and contact information, click here.

Hold a Food Drive – They CAN Do It!

Each summer, the Food Bank sees a drop in food donations but the need in the community is still great. School-aged children no longer receive the meals they enjoy during the school year and their families struggle to fill the gap, often turning to their local food pantry for assistance.

That’s why it is critical that we keep food and funds coming in the door all year long.

Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. Neither can we.

Holding a summer food drive is easy. We have bins, barrels and posters to help you. You can host one at home, in your neighborhood, at your place of worship or at your business or other organization.

Let people know that you will be collecting food and remind them of the date you need it. You may have to remind them more than once!

Some of the most needed items at the Food Bank include: peanut butter, whole wheat pasta, tuna, brown rice, canned & dried beans, boxed macaroni & cheese, canned soups & stews, granola bars, canned fruits & vegetables, tomato sauce, and breakfast cereals

For more information on how to get started, click here.

About the Food Bank

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank helps get healthy, nutritious food to the people who need it most. Every day, staff and volunteers bring in food and distribute it through a network of 160 agencies across the state.

The Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program, entering its 9th year, provides free, high quality pre-kindergarten classes to eligible children. The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) oversees the program. This coming September, spaces will be available for 1,080 children to participate in the 60 pre-kindergarten classes. To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by September 1, and they must be residents of one of the identified communities. Children are selected for participation in the program through the lottery.

The State Pre-Kindergarten Program Lottery is open for applications through Saturday, July 1, 2017. Families can apply online, or applications can be downloaded or picked up at any Pre-Kindergarten Program location. Visit the RIDE website for more information including the complete list of participating Pre-K programs in Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Johnston, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, West Warwick and Woonsocket.

Completed hard copy applications should be returned to one of the participating programs. Families may apply for more than one site directly in the application, and can rank their preference. Only one application per child will be accepted. Please do not submit applications to the RI Department of Education.

PVD Fest takes over Providence for its third year, infusing our downtown city streets and parks with music, dance, food, art and play. The Fest is a 4 day series of free events around the city spanning June 1 through June 4 with the big bash taking place from noon into night on Saturday, June 3. Check out the full festival schedule online to plan your day, or simply show up and wander the spaces and stages - everything is in walking distance. Printed programs will be available at Kennedy Plaza and additional information booths. Visit the PVD Fest FAQ page for information including parking, detours, and food.

Saturday is jam-packed with amazing performances to be seen and experiences to be had. Here are a few highlights to share with kids, teens and families in mind:

PVDYouth Fest at Roger Williams National Memorial Park
12:00 PM - 8:00 PM, 282 North Main Street

PVDYouth Fest at Roger Williams National Memorial Park is a family-fun block party of music, art, activities, performance, playtime, and food, curated by poet Christopher Johnson. Enjoy stage performances by: the Manton Avenue Project, Puppeteer Marc Kohler, Magnolia Cajun Band, and Runa Culture. Activities include hula-hooping, comic book creations, balloon animal sculptures, poetry and face painting.

Family Activities and Performances at Burnside Park
12:30 PM - 7:00 PM, 2 Kennedy Plaza

A celebration of local arts, culture and play for all ages unfolds at Burnside Park courtesy of The Downtown Parks Conservatory, Providence's Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, and FirstWorks. Grab a scavenger hunt and a Burnside Passport and earn stamps at activities throughout the park for prizes. Check out performances with Girls Rock! Rhode Island, Ricky Rainbow Beard, Miss Katie of playSCIENCE RI. Also, storytelling with Raffini, drum circle with Sidy Maiga, and a lion dance parade. Build with the Imagination Playground "big blue blocks", play with bubbles, and draw with sidewalk chalk.

Scott Lapham Remix Collage Workshop at Burnside Park (Photo by James Lastowski

PVD Fest Parade
4:00 PM, down Washington Street to Kennedy Plaza

Dress crazy and colorful and bring noisemakers to march the streets of Providence or simply cheer on the parade from the sidewalk and take in the music, dance and floats of local artists and organizations.

Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire
2:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Washington Street between Mathewson and Clemence Street

Maker Faire is a "gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do." Meet the makers (engineers, artists, scientists, crafters) of 3D Printing PVD, RI Computer Museum, AS220 Labs, and TRACIMOC repurposed comic book art.

AS220 Labs at RI Mini Maker Faire

Performances and Screenings at Grant's Block
12:00 PM - 10:30 PM, corner of Westminster and Union Streets

Awesome acts take the stage from Classical Gasoline, the Classical High School Band (12:00 PM), the silly songs of Keith Munslow (1:00 PM), hip hop dancers Project 401 (7:00 PM), theater and dance with Trinity Academy of the Performing Arts (8:30 PM - also at 12:00 PM at 63 Snow Street) and a series of short films with Providence Children's Film Festival (9:00 PM).

Bike Fest RI
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Mathewson Street Stage lot

BMX stunt riders, live entertainment, repair and safety demonstrations, and a bike expo.

Big Nazo take a ride at PVD Fest (photo by John Simonetti)

And More!

There are oodles more art, dance, music and genre-defying happenings for families around the city in the complete schedule.

Spring signals that time to throw open the windows, clear the dust bunnies, and make space by moving out some of that ever-accumulating "stuff". We all know the trappings of squirreling stuff: the sentimental clinging, the "just in case" stockpiling, the constant stream of a family's things that flow in at a faster rate that than they go out. The internet has myriad resources for how to de-clutter, but I want to address that block that happens once we decide we no longer need something, and don't know what to do with it. As I'm preparing for a move myself, I find it's much easier for me to let go of a thing when I know it's going to find new life by giving it to someone in my own community who will use it.

Here is a list of ways to give locally:


Providence Clothing Collaborative

Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island

Serving Rhode Island immigrants and refugees, two services that Dorcas International provides are The Providence Clothing Collaborative and Refugee Resource Center, made possible with community donations of professional clothing and housewares.

How to donate: Items accepted during walk-in hours Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM (or by appointment) at 645 Elmwood Avenue, lower level, Providence, RI . Clothing Collaborative donations also accepted at additional locations in East Providence, Woonsocket, Westerly and Warwick.

Items accepted: For Clothing Collaborative - men's and women's seasonal business professional and business casual clothing and shoes, formal dresses, scrubs. For Refugee Resource Center - basic home necessities including clean clothing for all family members, unused toiletries, bed & bath linens, dinnerware and cookware.

Foster Forward Clothing Bank

Foster Forward helps to provide foster parents with the clothing essentials they need for the children in their care through our clothing bank.

How to donate: Contact Stacy Smith at 401.438.3900 ext. 124 for questions or to schedule a drop-off at 55 South Brow Street, East Providence, RI.

Items accepted: New and gently used clothing and bedding, especially pajamas and sheets/blankets.

Junior League of Rhode Island

The Junior League of Rhode Island is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. One Junior League program, Home Makeovers, is for youth aging out of foster care and their families.

How to donate: Contact the Junior League at 21 Meeting Street, Garden Level, Providence, RI, (401) 331-9302 to coordinate.

Items accepted: Furniture, linens, beds, kitchen essentials, baby items etc.

Soujourner House

The Sojourner House Safe House and Transitional Housing Apartments serve domestic violence survivors in transition. They rely almost entirely on donations to keep apartments furnished, stocked and comfortable.

How to donate: Email to coordinate drop-off.

Items accepted: Metal and plastic furniture, appliances, dishes and cookware, cleaning supplies, etc. Due to bed bug crisis in shelters in the state, currently not accepting fabric and wood donations.


TAPIN Volunteers

TAPIN Volunteers

TAPIN is an all-volunteer outreach organization that provides resources and services for East Bay residents in need.

How to donate: Drop off items Monday through Friday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM at 281 County Road, Barrington, RI.

Items accepted: Non-perishable food, children's items (books, clothes, toys), household items, toiletries, furniture, office supplies.

Amos House

Some in-kind donations are accepted for programs and families in the many programs offered by Amos House, including transitional housing and education programs.

How to donate: By appointment to drop off at 460 Pine Street, Providence

Items accepted: See website for full wish list including gently used strollers, bedding, dishes sets, craft supplies

Johnnycake Center of Peace Dale and Johnnycake Center of Westerly

The Johnnycake Centers provide assistance to those need of food, clothing and household items. Items are sold in their thrift shops that directly fund food pantry and operations.

How to donate Peace Dale: Donation Center hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM at 1231 Kingstown Road, Peace Dale, RI. Significant clothing and furniture donations can be picked up.  Donation bins are also available outside donation center anytime.

How to donate Westerly: Donations of items for the Thrift Store accepted Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9-4, Thursdays from 9-6:30, and Sundays 10-2 at 23 Industrial Drive, Westerly, RI. You may also schedule a time for at-home pick-up of large furniture donations.

Items accepted: Gently used clothing and accessories, furniture, homewares, etc.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State

Donations collected by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State are sold to partners to help fund local programs and services to support their mentoring programs.
How to donate: Go to website to find a nearby drop-off location or schedule a pick-up appointment at your home.
Items accepted: Clothing, accessories, media, housewares, toys.
What about those stained, ripped, worn-out clothes and fabrics?

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation pleads Rhode Islanders to keep these unwanted textiles out of the landfill and instead bag them up and deposit in any clothing donation bin in Rhode Island. Clothing not suitable for reuse is sorted for textile recycling.

image002The days are growing longer, the layers are getting fewer, and food truck season is upon us! Food-on-wheels bringing communities together outdoors is one trend that we can get behind. There are more than 75 independent food truck vendors serving The Ocean State, from gourmet grilled cheese to vegan ice cream, coffee to shave ice.


These tasty trucks flock together to grant gastronomic delights to Rhode Islanders under PVD Food Truck Events. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram to see where the trucks will be popping up this spring, summer and fall. Contact PVD Food Truck Events to organize food trucks to descend on your own private or community event.

These are a few favorite ongoing family-friendly listings from the calendar of food truck events:


Food Truck Fridays at Roger Williams Park Carousel Village, Providence

Friday evenings, May through September, 5:00 - 8:00PM. Enjoy live music, ride the carousel and train, play at the Hasbro Boundless Playground, dine on food truck delicacies and imbibe on Trinity Brewhouse beer.



Warwick Food Truck Night at City Hall and rotating Warwick locations

First Thursday (rotating locations) and third Thursday (Warwick City Hall), May through October, 5:00 - 8:00PM. Eat, drink, and be merry with free entertainment at City Hall, Rocky Point Park, Conimicut Point Park, Pawtuxet Village, and Warwick Library.



Food Trucks at City Hall, Providence

4th Thursday, May through October, 4:30 PM - 8:00 PM. Grab food truck treats and head over to a free film screening at Movies on the Block at Grant's Block (June-August) at dusk, or catch live music at the Burnside Park Music Series (July-August).



From the Governor's Office

Mianna's swearing-in ceremony was attended by many public officials, including Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney and state Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. Photos courtesy of Governor's Office

Governor Gina M. Raimondo hosted a swearing-in ceremony Friday morning for this year’s Governor for a Day. East Providence fifth-grade student Mianna Gonsalves won the Governor’s annual Women’s History Month Essay Contest and earned the opportunity to spend the day as Rhode Island’s Governor and learn about public service. Gonsalves was joined by RI Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg, RI Superior Court Justice Alice B. Gibney and previous winners of the essay contest. Following the swearing in, Raimondo and Gonsalves participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Westerly Education Center.


Governor Raimondo and Governor for a Day Gonsalves cut the ribbon on the new Westerly Education Center.

In her essay, Gonsalves wrote that her primary initiative as Governor would be to create a statewide healthy eating initiative. After having lunch with female members of the Governor’s staff, she met with Rhode Island’s Director of Food Strategy Sue AnderBois at Johnson and Wales for a cooking demonstration. Gonsalves then participated in a Women in Government Panel with Acting Commissioner of Postsecretary Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Director of the Department of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott, Acting Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Anya Rader Wallack, Health Insurance Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Hittner, Head of Rhode Island Housing Barbara Fields and moderated by her state representative, Katherine Kazarian.


Mianna participates in a healthy cooking demonstration at Mianna participates in a healthy cooking demonstration at Johnson & Wales University.

During her day as Governor, Gonsalves had the opportunity to meet elected officials including Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. She was given an official tour of the Treasurer’s office and had a chance to talk to Treasurer Magaziner about the state’s finances. After a one-on-one with Governor Raimondo, Gonsalves and her mother headed back to East Providence. When asked what surprised her most about being Governor, Gonsalves replied, “All the pictures!”

Congratulations, Mianna! You did Rhode Island proud!

Right now, so many of us are seeking to connect the children in our lives with bridges, empathy, and empowerment in the face of separation, misunderstanding, and fear. While the values we impart are rooted in our adult-child relationships, we also pave the way to a wider world-view beyond day-to-day experience.

four feetBooks are one portal to understanding and simply looking from another person's perspective, as Atticus Finch nudged Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Below is a collection of reading lists compiled from organizations passionate about the power of books to raise collective consciousness through stories celebrating diversity and illuminating common human experience. Some of the titles can be purchased from the linked sites directly, and many titles are available through the Rhode Island libraries. Additionally, Providence Children's Museum's Coming to Rhode Island exhibit features books and activities that "investigate culture and diversity and encourage empathy" in the Story Center.

Special thanks to Romy Natalia Goldberg for pointing the way to suggestions for this list. Natalia is a travel writer ( and parent who is shifting to writing and advocating for multicultural children's literature.

Upcoming Meetups (via, join the Boston Dads Group to learn about upcoming get togethers. Send Mike a private message when you join!)

- Weekly meetups, Friday mornings at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program
- Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy
- Wednesday, January 25th at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

20161024_155718-e1483578349651It is my pleasure to introduce a new friend of Kidoinfo, Mike Malkoff, an educator and Downcity-dwelling, at-home dad to 22-month-old Eliana. Mike relocated to Providence with his family this past summer. Inspired by the myriad local kid-friendly community destinations and drawing from his past involvement in the Chicago Dads Group, Mike sees great potential for a network of Providence-area dads to connect with one another while exploring with their kids. We couldn't agree more! So we chatted with Mike to learn more about the inception of this idea, and while he was in the hot seat, got to know more about him with questions from our Home Work interview series.

Kidoinfo: Could you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you and your family to Providence?
Mike: I'm originally from New York City, but lived in Nashville and Chicago accompanying my wife through her medical training and then career as a neurologist.  I was an elementary school classroom teacher in all three cities, followed by training new teachers, and then running training events and sessions for cohorts of new teachers.  Now, I am focusing on training my most important student, the almost two-year-old Eliana!  My wife is an attending at Rhode Island Hospital and we live in Westminster Lofts in downtown Providence.  We moved here this past July, practically lived at the beach, and now enjoying all of the indoor and outdoor activities of winter in New England.

Kidoinfo: What do you see as the obstacles to dads building community?
Mike: There's a few here.  Though there are certainly more at-home dads than there were years ago, there's still a lot more weekday moms than dads out there.  In a smaller city like Providence, that means even fewer than a city like Chicago or New York.  However, I've actually been randomly meeting more at-home dads out at the library, music classes, and Renaissance Gymnastics than I met out in Chicago. It's a smaller and more close knit community so I see this as a huge advantage towards building a community of involved dads.  The potential is huge!  I also think that many dads don't even know how advantageous a community can be for dads and our kids.

highres_439111586Kidoinfo: What is your vision for bringing together dads spending time with their kids?
Mike: The Chicago Dads Group was an invaluable part of my start as an at-home dad.  Through first attending then organizing meetups I made lifelong friends who are highly involved dads like me.  We shared large and small victories, turned to each other for advice, or just simply vented when needed.  Our kids got to recognize and play with each other, which is a big plus for kids who don't have a regular daycare or preschool community.  We explored new parts of the city together and our wives became friends.  Each week we had events that had 6 or more dads and kids attending, in addition to dads’ nights out and big family picnics with over 60 families.  We even had sponsors for events with cool giveaways like free movies, car seats and baby carriers.  I hope to work with other dads nearby to build the same here...for me and for other new dads to have the same experiences I have.

Kidoinfo: How can dads get involved in the group and who is it for?
Mike: It's for all involved dads with kids of all ages, whether full-time at home with kids, part-time, work-from-home, or work outside of the home.  We plan weekday and weekend events.  We plan one-off events like nature hikes and meetups at play centers and weekly events like social hours and library hours.  Dads can attend events, propose events, and plan events.  We are part of the national City Dads Group, Boston Dads Group chapter.  The platform is  You can go on the website and join the Boston Dads Group there.  You'll then start getting invitations for events from Boston to Providence and in between.  For example, there is a weekly meetup listing Friday morning at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program, and Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy. Please also send me a private message when you join!

Kidoinfo: Let's learn more about you! Please describe a typical day.
Mike: Hmm, a typical day. I'd say I wake up, get some coffee going for me and my wife, then start making breakfast.  When Eliana wakes up, my wife usually wakes her up with a song, spends some time with her and leaves for work.  Then Elie and I have breakfast in PJs, and leave right after for our daily adventure! Depending on the day, this could be swim class, music class, library group program, gym, or park/beach/nature walk, weather permitting.  Then, we usually come home for lunch, then it's Eliana's nap time.  Naptime means laundry, other tasks, dinner prep.  Or realistically at times, just watching TV and taking a break after nine hours of go time.  Late afternoon, Eliana wakes up, my wife comes home and plays with her while I finish dinner, then dinnertime, bath, and bed.  Then, my wife and I will try to stay up a bit to read, watch a movie or just chill and have some tea...or wine or beer.   We've also been trying to give each other nights out, like to catch a movie or meet up with friends.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Mike:  Teaching Eliana to bring her plate and fork to the table, then put them in the dishwasher after the meal, teaching her how to put away her toys in the right place, teaching her how to put dinner prep scraps in a bowl...all of these little tasks not only engage her but save me time (and get things done before bedtime so that my time with my wife at night isn't all kid-related or cleaning tasks).

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past, pre-kid self any advice, what would it be?
Mike:  Movie dates!!! We enjoy bringing Eliana out for dinner, but movies are just not happening!

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Mike:  I'm on a few dad Facebook groups that provide great tips when I need them or just let me know I'm not that only one struggling at times.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Mike:  We have waaaay too many "I need it!" kiddie products in general these days, but I love the NUK no-spill sippy cups with no straw.  Easy to clean, no cap needed, doesn't leak when tossed.

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Mike:  So many here!  Any book by Mo Willems, whether in the Cat The Cat, Elephant and Piggie, Knufflebunny, or "pigeon" series is awesome.  Super engaging for kids and amusing for adults.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kid on a rainy day?
Mike:  Renaissance Gymnastics Academy open play for toddlers has been a lifesaver!  Great value for monthly membership and Eliana is almost as happy there as the beach.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Mike:  Film, Arrival with Amy Adams.  I'm not really a sci-fi guy, but this movie transcended genre. Reading Les Miserables right now.  It really is an epic masterpiece and I'm three-quarters of the way through.  It has character, scene, and plot development as well as language on a whole new level than anything I've read before.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Mike:  1990s pro wrestling on the WWE network...why does it have to be on demand 24/7!!!

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Mike:  Go to a coffee shop, order a giant mug of medium roast, and disappear into a book or magazine.

We hope to see this group continue to grow! If you are a dad or a know a dad who'd like to get involved, check out the Meetup group and drop in on an event.


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