New York Public Library giving away book kits to keep kids active all summer long

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NYPL distributes over 60,000 reading kits to children in New York City beginning on July 12.
Photo by Dean Moses

School may be out, but the learning never stops at the New York Public Library.

New York Public Libraries (NYPL) are back and distributing free book kits that are sure to provide fun-filled activities for the sweltering months to come.

The New York Public Library reopened all of its locations this month and the institution is returning bearing gifts. Over 60,000 kits brimming with books, stress balls, Play-Doh, and more were handed out at every NYPL in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Each of the six bags were designed especially for various age groups ranging from infants to older teens (0-17).

The giveaway was intended to inspire children while also keeping them engaged with reading materials over the summer months. Following the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYPL officials feel it is important to offer children and teens materials that can both help them destress while also keeping their reading habits up.

Children and teens were excited to check out their summer reading kits they received at the Savros Niarchos Foundation Library in Midtown. Photo by Dean Moses

“The library has always played a critical role in the lives of New York City families over the summer, and this year, it feels even more important, as students went through unprecedented change and challenges,” said Emily Nichols, NYPL’s Associate Director of Children’s Services. “We need to make sure we’re using our expertise to support them, including and especially families on the wrong side of the digital divide, who can’t access e-books or web-based learning programs. To give them books and activities to take home is so important, and we hope to see as many families as possible in our branches.”

The NYPL kit was developed to keep teens and children engaged in educational activities. Photo by Dean Moses

Families at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library were excited to receive the gifts and instantly dug into the bags to discover the litany of literacy treats waiting within. Huddling together children and parents alike poured over the pages and pointed at the artwork. 

Beth Emmons and her daughter Ada are happy with their NYPL kit. Photo by Dean Moses

“As a teacher and a parent, I think it is so important to get books into the hands of kids. It’s amazing that they received funding to give all of these kits to all of the families that they can to try to spread the love of literature,” Beth Emmons, a teacher from Michigan, told amNewYork Metro as her two young girls flipped through the pages of their books. 

Emmons has been traveling with her husband and daughters all across the United States in a trailer, and upon arriving in each city they make a point to visit the local libraries. 

Fun summer reading! Photo by Dean Moses

“Every city we’ve gone to, we stop at the library,” Emmons said, adding that they have visited 14 states so far. “We are from a really small town, but it’s really interesting because all of the summer reading programs are really similar because they are all national and so it’s just really nice to visit a library and we feel at home no matter where we are.”

The giveaway took place at 92 different locations will continue while supplies last.

There were six different kits for children ages 0-17. Photo by Dean Moses