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SUMMER READING BEGINS JUNE 20, 2016 and continues through AUGUST 12, 2016! Register for summer reading on June 20 or any day during the summer…read, visit the library, and have FUN! Remember, the Children’s Department serves FREE LUNCH everyday 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 20-August 19!

Monday 10:00 a.m. Stories for 2-5 year olds.
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. FREE LUNCH for children 0-18 years old!
2:00 p.m. CRAFTING FUN for all ages! Make something and take it home!

Tuesday 10:00 a.m. Stories for 0-2 year olds.
11:00 a.m. Stories for 2-5 year olds.
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. FREE LUNCH for children 0-18 years old!
2:00 p.m. MAKERSPACE! Make and explore, Discover and create! All ages!
5:30 p.m. MINECRAFT CLUB (9-12 year olds)…registration is required…space is limited!

Wednesday 10:00 a.m. Stories for 2-5 year olds.
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. FREE LUNCH for children 0-18 years old!
2:00 p.m. “Off to the Races” Book time for BOYS of all ages! Fun and games!

Thursday 10:00 a.m. Stories for 0-2 year olds.
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. FREE LUNCH for children 0-18 years old!
2:30 p.m. NUTMEG BOOK CLUB for readers 8 years and older!
6:30 p.m. PAJAMA STORY TIME! Come dressed in your pjs!

Friday 10:00 a.m. MINECRAFT CLUB (9-12 year olds)…registration is required…space limited!
10:00 a.m. MAKERSPACE! Make and explore, Discover and create! All ages!
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. FREE LUNCH for children 0-18 years old!
2:00 p.m. MOVIE & POPCORN…escape the heat and enjoy an awesome movie!

Event Date/Time


Children’s Area – Main Library
06/15/2016 - 08/19/2016
8:30 am - 8:00 pm

Summer Reading BEGINS in the Children's Department

Children’s Area – Main Library
06/20/2016 - 08/12/2016
All Day

FREE LUNCH begins Monday, June 20, 2016!

Children’s Area – Main Library
06/20/2016 - 08/19/2016
11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Thursday, June 23, 2016 10:00 a.m. Singer NANCY HERSHATTER presents “Harold & the Purple Crayon!”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 10:00 a.m. and again at 10:45 a.m. The BEARDSLEY ZOO MOBILE visits! Registration required!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 6:30 p.m. “On Your Mark, Get Set” MAGIC SHOW with Magician STEVE WOYCE!

Friday, July 8, 2016 10:00 a.m. the HARTFORD YARD GOAT visits…and at 10:30 a.m. our friends from CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN to celebrate reading!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. “Yoga After Lunch!” Sponsored by the Bristol Rotary Club!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. The ART TRUCK visits for hands-on, creative FUN!

Thursday, July 14, 2016 6:30 p.m. The PUPPETREE presents “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni and “The Swimmer!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 6:30 p.m. “BACH 2 ROCK: The Science of Sound!” Featuring musician Caryn Lin! An amazing multimedia show: five-string violin and modern tech!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 6:30 p.m. FoodPlay Productions presents “ToBE Fit: The Juggling Nutrition Magician Show!”

Friday, July 22, 2016 10:00 a.m. Singer/songwriter TOM SIELING sings awesome songs!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 6:30 p.m. MARVELOUS MARVIN presents MATH BLAST! Sponsored by KIDS DENTAL CARE!

Thursday, July 28, 2016 1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. “Yoga After Lunch!” Sponsored by the Bristol Rotary Club!

Monday, August 1, 2016 1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. “Yoga After Lunch!” Sponsored by the Bristol Rotary Club!

Thursday, August 4, 2016 6:30 p.m. Hampstead Stage Company presents “The Wizard of Oz.” Kids help present the play!

Monday, August 8, 2016 1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. “Yoga After Lunch!” Sponsored by the Bristol Rotary Club!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 6:30 p.m. Make something yummy with JODIE FITZ from Price Chopper!

Friday, August 12, 2016 10:00 a.m. and again at 11:15 a.m. NAPPY’S PUPPETS presents “Shadows Around the World” and “Sing-A-Long!”

All programs are FREE and OPEN to all!


Find More Events

Directory of Services for Young Children in the Bristol Area
This PDF document makes available important information for successful starts in the lives of Bristol’s youngest citizens.

Guide to Living Bully Free

The Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate has put together a brochure outlining ways to identify bullies and victims of bullying, plus tips for keeping your child and community safe.

Guide to Internet Safety
The Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate has put together a brochure with information on how to keep you and your child safe while using the Internet.

Lead Poisoning Prevention Activity Book
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together an activity book to educate children and families on lead poisoning prevention.

Help Me Grow – Child Development
The Connecticut Child Development Infoline provides information on how your child learns and grows.

Connecticut Early Care and Education Progress Report 
Connecticut Voices for Children conducts independent research and advocates to improve the lives of Connecticut children.  This annual report from 2013 covers the quality and availability of early childhood care and education across our state.

Caring For Connecticut’s Children
The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut puts out a handbook of information and resources on how to keep young children healthy and safe. To order a printed copy or download the digital guide, please click the links below.
Volume 1 – Promoting Health and Safety:
Volume 2 – Promoting Healthy Child Development:

Suggested Reading by Grade Level

Wondering what to read next? Check out our reading guides!

Our own Valerie Toner is the featured author of the October 2013 Children’s Bookshelf in Connecticut Parent Magazine, and Margaret Mennone is the author of December 2014’s column.  Read their articles here:


Good Reads is an online community of book reviews and recommendations from people all over the world. Please visit the Bristol Public Library Children’s page to see what we’re reading.

School Library Journal has compiled a list of their Top 100 Picture Books, including special reviews by Betsy Bird of the top ten.

We have also compiled some book lists of popular topics and characters.  Each list includes call numbers for all books on that topic owned by the Bristol Public Library.  Check back for more lists soon!

Valerie Toner, Supervisor of the Children’s Department at the Bristol Public Library
June-August 2015
We usually think of libraries as feeding minds, but Bristol Public Library took a big leap this past summer and fed children’ bodies as well! Through the work of many volunteers and community partners, the library was able to provide free lunch to children who participated in the Summer Reading Program. By the end of the summer, 3,625 meals were served and many children and families had a new-found love of reading. Here is how the Summer Reading Program With Lunch came about. At the May 2015 Bristol School Readiness Meeting, Genevieve Caron from End Hunger CT! asked if there were places in Bristol willing to provide FREE summer lunches to children ages 0-18 years old. I thought what a great addition to the Summer Reading Program that is always popular during the summer months at the library! The library accepted the plan – and the wheels of summer reading and free lunch began to turn! Collaboration across the Bristol Hunger Action Team (which includes Bristol Housing Authority, Bristol Public Library, End Hunger CT!, Foodshare, Salvation Army, Shop Rite, United Way, and others) helped pull all the pieces together. I was introduced to Mike Koch (Whitsons at New Britain Schools) via many email conversations, cooler delivery was arranged, library press releases and public relations were launched. We received over 8,000 hits on the library Facebook page…I wondered how many lunches we could manage at the library! Brain-storming and teamwork at the library led to a beach-themed lunch room where children ate on blankets spread out on the floor and enjoyed nutritious lunches. It turned out that 250 lunches per day worked well (that’s right, 250!!!) and by the end of the summer we had served 3,625 meals.

Volunteers Make it Happen – The library had many eager lunch room helpers. Members of the Friends of the Bristol Public Library volunteered to serve and greet children; middle school students also joined the lunch team to distribute lunches and milk. The older children helped us count number of meals served per day and give out summer raffle tickets (used to pick prizes for reading, participating, and eating) after all lunch materials were put in the waste barrels. The school principals of the middle school students were informed of the volunteer hours; students became “school stars” in September—recognized for a summer-full of help at the library. We felt that the lunch program at the library pulled the community together in a very positive way; in summer 2016 we hope to serve 5,000 lunches and recruit more community helpers!
Success Stories – There were many success stories during summer 2015, let me share a few. A father and his three children visited the library daily so that the children could participate in story times and reading clubs; at lunch time they joined the lunch crowd in the “beach room.” Dad said that by bringing his children to the library for events and lunch that the summer was fun and financially positive. “By coming every day for lunch I can save money and buy my children more school clothes and supplies.” Other parents voiced similar statements, like: “This is awesome; we can stay for lunch and not think about eating at home later.” “My children enjoy being with other children at lunchtime and think the beach is great.” “I can spend time reading to my daughter while she eats her lunch.” We saw many families every day for lunch, and as the summer progressed and word got out about Summer Reading Program With Lunch at the library many new families started to visit and explore the library and what it has to offer.
A Brighter Future – The most impressive story begins with a certain sadness, but ends with a positive twist. On day two of summer lunch a very frightened mother arrived in the Children’s Department with two young children. She was looking for support and help because her husband had been recently deported. She had nothing, no permanent home, very little money, and almost no food. We told her that she was in the right place because every day she and her children could stay at the library for free story times, special programs, and free lunch. She was so relieved and happy about everything the library offered, but she was especially pleased by the free lunch. She said that her children would get at least one full meal a day. She and her children visited the library for fun and lunch every day for nine weeks. By the end of the summer she thanked us and happily informed us that her home life was coming together well and that the future looked brighter.
Helping Children Get Ready for Kindergarten – Every summer in August the Children’s Department at the Bristol Public Library offers new kindergarten scholars a program called “Countdown to Kindergarten.” We offer the program with the help of the Bristol School Readiness Council, the Bristol Board of Education, Bristol Early Childhood Alliance, and Imagine Nation-A Museum Early Learning Center. Children meet teachers, ride a school bus, hear stories, play games, learn letters and numbers, and in 2015, got to experience a “real” school lunch during the library free lunch program. Before the new kindergarteners went home they lined up in the library lunch room, received cartons of milk, hardy lunches, fruit/veggies, and enjoyed their first school “cafeteria” dining! The children were walked through how to open a milk carton (a skill imperative for kindergarten success), encouraged to eat-up, and shown where the waste is deposited at the end of a lunch period. Having the free lunch program during the event truly helped our young library patrons see what the big children already know how to do at school!
What’s Next – In the Children’s Department at the Bristol Public Library we are looking forward to Summer Reading Program With Lunch 2016. Our summer theme is “On Your Mark, Get Set—READ @ the Library.” Reading, exercising, and eating good food will pack the summer with so much fun. In 2016 we will introduce “Yoga in the Afternoon” to our lunchtime friends. After a good lunch, children will learn to wind down, relax, and be-at-peace through yoga moves and motions. Our instructor uses familiar stories to help children meditate, work off steam, and get ready for the rest of the day. The sessions are scheduled for four summer afternoons, but if things go well…we will offer more!
More Information – To learn more about or get involved with the Summer Reading Program with Lunch, please contact Valerie Toner at the Bristol Public Library at If you want to get involved with the Bristol Hunger Action Team, please contact Jim Palma at Foodshare at .