The Columbus Metropolitan Library is kicking off its Summer Reading Club May 31 at the Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave.
People of all ages are invited to a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that will include games, activities, music and food. It also will provide an opportunity to sign up for the club, which is a requirement.
Last year, 82,000 people participated in the Summer Reading Club.
"It's a great way to develop a joy of reading and instill that joy of reading," said Ben Zenitsky, a spokesman for the library.
This year's theme is "Imagine Your Story. Read," which will offer participants the opportunity to win prizes throughout the summer.
As readers track their progress, they can earn milestone prizes geared toward every age range, including coupons, flash drives and tote bags, Zenitsky said. Once they achieve a certain milestone, their names are entered in a raffle for a grand prize. Last year, CML gave a bicycle each to a boy and girl.
Greg Denby, manager of the Whetstone Branch, said the library is working hard to hold reader interest throughout the summer.
"We're real busy now because we have programs every day, different programs for different age levels," Denby said. "We're out there on the floor trying to hook kids up with good books they want to read. It's not school. Even reluctant readers, if you find them books they like, they're going to read them."
Zenitsky said students particularly benefit from the program.
"Research has shown summer is a time when students are vulnerable to losing reading skills they gained over the year," he said. "So the Summer Reading Club is a way to keep those skills fresh."
Zenitsky said there are hundreds of Summer Reading Club events at all 21 CML locations, which can be viewed at columbuslibrary.org/events. People can sign up for the club online or at any branch on or after May 31.
On a related note, CML will continue its Reading Buddies program this summer for children in kindergarten through third grade.
The program is geared toward helping students with the state Third Grade Reading Guarantee tests.