Library children's area

Christopher Bigham, 2, looks at a book inside the new reading house in the children’s room at the Newark Free Library in November.

School is out for the summer, but thanks to the Newark Free Library, kids have additional incentives to keep their reading skills sharp.

The library’s annual summer reading program kicked off June 1 and runs through Aug. 17.

Kids who log 10 hours of reading will receive a number of prizes, including a free book, two Blue Rocks tickets, a coupon for a kid’s meal at Applebee’s and a coupon for a cup of gelato at Caffé Gelato.

“The whole purpose is to get families to come to the library and get the idea that the library is a good place to go,” said Carol McKelvey, a member of the Friends of the Newark Library.

The summer reading program is offered at all New Castle County libraries, but in Newark, the Friends group funds and coordinates additional prizes.

McKelvey said the program is intended to encourage kids to continue reading and learning while school is out and avoid regressing in their education.

“They call it the summer slide. It is the effect on academic performance that the two summer months away from school can have on student achievement,” McKelvey said. “Research shows that participation in summer reading programs can help students maintain their abilities or can even improve their reading skills.”

Last year, 925 kids participated in the program.

Throughout the summer, the library will host dozens of events for kids, including a weekly family film series at 2 p.m. each Tuesday and a pajama story time every Monday at 6:30 p.m. from July 8 to Aug. 12. Another highlight, according to McKelvey, is the Campfire Kids story time and sing-along, led by Friends member Katy Ferrero and set for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 6.

Families can register for the summer reading program by visiting the library, located at 750 Library Avenue. Those 12 and younger are eligible for a special library card that allows them to borrow up to 12 books at a time with no fines for overdue returns.

The library also offers a summer reading program for adults. Those who read at least four books are entered into a raffle for gift cards to local restaurants.

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