An annual rite of summer which seeks to promote reading among Delaware County youth will kick off next week.

An annual rite of summer which seeks to promote reading among Delaware County youth will kick off next week.

For more than 30 years, the Delaware County District Library has offered a summer reading program to encourage county children and teenagers to exercise their brains during their break from school.

This year will be no different, as the library is slated to host kick-off parties in Delaware, Powell and Ostrander on June 8, 9 and 10.

"Our summer reading program is for preschoolers up through the teenage kids," said Shea Alltmont, communications manager for the Delaware County District Library. "We're trying to encourage kids to keep reading over the summer. There's a tendency that everyone sort of takes a break for reading when school's out."

To familiarize children, teens and parents with this year's programs, the library will hold a kick-off party at its Delaware branch, 84 E. Winter St., at 2 p.m. on June 8. The festivities will include registration opportunities, as well as balloon artist and magician Bob Durante's presentation "The Wonderful World of Bugs," and a chance to meet library mascot Dewey D. Chipmunk.

Similar parties will be held at the city of Powell's Village Green Amphitheater, 47 Hall St., at 6:30 p.m. on June 9. The library's Ostrander branch, 75 N. Fourth St., will host its party at 6:30 p.m. on June 10.

Although library officials hope to draw crowds for the parties, children and teens can register for the programs any time prior to Aug. 9. Once registered, participants will be asked to log how much they read during the summer months.

Preschoolers through fifth-graders will participate in the "Catch the Reading Bug at the Delaware County District Library Program," and can join in related activities throughout the summer. They also can receive books or other prizes for time spent reading.

"They'll actually color in little pictures to keep track of how much time they're spending reading," Alltmont said. "They get to color in a picture for every 15 minutes they read."

Teens will participate in the "Metamorphosis at the Library Program," which will reward club members for every 10 pages read.

Additionally, both programs will feature library visits from "The Turtle Lady," animals from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and movies. The library also is partnering with Preservation Parks of Delaware County to encourage youths to visit area parks and follow clues to find hidden boxes.

"A lot of studies show kids that read even 15 minutes a day during the summer do better during school," Alltmont said. "It's really just keeping their brains moving.

"They also get to win cool prizes and they get to enjoy really interesting programs. This is really an at-your-own-pace type of program. It's meant to be fun."

Additional information regarding the summer reading programs can be obtained visiting the library's Web site, at www.delawarelibrary.org, or by calling the library, at (740) 362-3861.

nellis@thisweeknews.com