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 www.lincolnschool.org/bookfestival or call Lincoln School at 401.331.9696, ext. 3135.
- The Book Festival Kickoff – National Premiere of So B. It
Friday, October 13, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Admission – $10.00 (advance tickets here)
- Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books & Authors
Saturday, October 14, 2017, 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Admission – $5.00 (tickets at door)
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.
- Rhode Island State House (82 Smith Street, 10am – 6pm) – Usually closed on weekends, the State House welcomes kids to explore interesting finds with a scavenger hunt, including the House and Senate chambers and stunning three-story State Library. Still in development to officially unveil later this year, visitors get a first look at Gaspee VR, a fantasy Museum of the Gaspee with virtual objects and artifacts that help tell the story of Rhode Island’s famous attack on a British revenue schooner. The sprawling State House lawn is the perfect spot for a picnic, and parking will be free!
State House Library, photo by Caroline Stevens
- Ladd Observatory (210 Doyle Avenue, 11am-3pm) – Brown University’s Ladd Observatory, one of the oldest in the country, will offer the chance to check out 19th century cosmos-gazing tools and peer through a solar telescope.
Ladd Observatory, photo by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios
- Stephen Hopkins House (15 Hopkins Street, 10am-9:30pm) – Providence’s oldest surviving house was home to Rhode Island’s own founding father and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house is filled with antiques and family heirlooms and facilitators are well-versed in sharing about its history with families.
Stephen Hopkins House, photo by Francesca Gallo
- RISD Nature Lab (13 Waterman Street, 10am – 4pm) – A stunning treasure trove of natural curiosities, the Nature Lab opens its doors to the public on this one special day. Kids can see what living and non-living specimens catch their eye and take a closer look through microscopes.
RISD Nature Lab, photo by Matthew Clowney
I can remember being in elementary school on the day of a solar eclipse. My mom sent me off for the day with a kiss, my lunch box, and words I recall as: don’t look at the sun today or you’ll go blind. I’m pretty sure I walked directly home from the bus with my eyes to the ground and one hand shielding my brow like a visor. Safe in my bedroom I still had my sight!
On August 21, 2017 there will be an eclipse of the sun. I’m intrigued by stories of people planning road trips toward the “path of totality” and find myself drawn to the occurrence like a moth to a flame. Can I look this time, what do I tell my boys, and what is a path of totality?
Sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. So rude! This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow which is only visible from a small area on Earth. The people who see the total eclipse are in the center of the moon’s shadow. The sky becomes very dark, as if it were night. For a total eclipse to take place, the sun, moon and Earth must be in a direct line.
The Path of Totality
Sounds like a great name for a board game or metal band but it is describes the course that will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina where observers will see the moon completely cover the sun for about two and a half minutes. In Rhode Island, we’re outside this path but will still be treated to a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.
According to Dave Huestis at the Seagrave Memorial Observatory in Scituate, the sun will be 72% eclipsed from central Rhode Island, and will last between 1:27 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., with maximum eclipse occurring at 2:47 p.m. Read more at Read A Guide to the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 from the Seagrave Memorial Observatory in Scituate.
Hide or Seek
While I didn’t need to hide under my bed, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration better known as NASA, does repeated state to NEVER look directly at the sun: It can permanently damage your eyes! You must use proper safety equipment to look at any type of solar eclipse. The only acceptable glasses are safe viewers designed for looking at the sun and solar eclipses. Not old film, not sunglasses, and not all welder’s helmets.
Activities Around Rhode Island
Many venues have family-friendly celebrations planned, some even providing eclipse viewing glasses. Please visit links to verify and to note if events are free of charge, require admission, or ask for a donation fee.
- East Providence Public Library – An eclipse viewing party kicks-off at 1:30 p.m. and includes music, food trucks, and viewing glasses for the first 400 attendees.
- Frosty Drew Observatory, Charlestown – The observatory will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offer views of the eclipse through a telescope along with projections.
- Museum of Natural History, Providence – Activities all day with a special planetarium show at 1 p.m.
- Seagrave Memorial Observatory, Scituate – Safe solar viewing will be available through standard white-light solar-filtered telescopes as well as filters. Live-streamed webcasts from locations experiencing totality will be shown in the meeting hall. Solar eclipse viewers will also be available. In the event of cloudy weather, they will show live webcasts from total solar eclipse locations throughout the United States. For more information contact Jeff Padell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Solar Eclipse Coloring Project
Print one for each member of the family (or create your own) to color and fill-out together for a special keepsake of the 2017 Solar Eclipse!
Party with Local Flavor
So the solar eclipse is on a Monday and we’re not in the path of totality but it can still be a reason to have fun. Consider having kidos over after school. NASA has resources for hosting an eclipse party. Consider serving milk flavored with Eclipse coffee syrup, our official State drink (noting there must be caffeine so maybe older kids only).
NASA has created a comprehensive and easy-to-use website guide that provides all things eclipse: activities, events, broadcasts, and most importantly safety information.
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.
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)
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.
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 info@sojournerRI.org 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 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.
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.