Library children's area

The children’s area at the Newark Free Library is pictured in this 2018 file photo.

The Newark Free Library, along with other New Castle County libraries, kicked off its summer reading program last week, offering prizes for children and adults.

Kids who read 10 hours between June 1 and August 21 will earn a free book. Adults who read four books are entered to win a prize.

The libraries are also offering a wide variety of virtual programs relating to this year’s theme, “Tales and Tails.” Participants can learn about animals, check out a magic show, rap with Baba Bomani, explore the Kalmar Nyckel, watch special music and dance performances, participate in bilingual storytimes and more. These events are free and will take place via Facebook or Zoom. Registration may be required.

Library officials said participating in the summer reading challenge can help prevent learning loss for children and teens. Reading just two to three hours a week can help kids maintain or improve their reading skills.

“The pandemic disrupted learning for many of our children and teens,” County Executive Matthew Meyer said. “Reading over the summer can help prepare them for the new school year and position them to succeed. We also encourage families with infants and early readers to read aloud together. Parent-child reading can help children learn and develop their foundational literacy skills.”

Here is how the summer reading challenge works:

1. Create an account with Beanstack ( You can register as individual participants or register as a family, group or class. Need help? Contact your local library.

2. Children and teens who register can visit the library pick up a free badge book to track their reading.

3. Log your reading between June 1 and Aug. 21. Children and teens log the time spent reading and adults log the books read on Beanstack’s website or in the Beanstack Tracker app.

4. Children and teens will receive a book for the first 10 hours read and virtual badges afterward. See who can collect the most.

5. Adults who read four books are eligible for a prize. Contact your local library for additional details.

For more information about the program, including a list of virtual events, visit or contact your local library.

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