Readers of all ages will turn up the volume at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library as they jam to this year's summer reading program, "Rock Out! Read."
From crafts and teen games to the discovery of turtles, youths should find a variety of fun activities to help them get excited about reading.
According to Kris Hickey, youth-services manager at the Whitehall branch, this year's summer reading program is focusing on the excitement of reading and the importance of "plugging into" a good book.
"There is such a giant reading loss over the summer," Hickey said. "So we really want to encourage them to read every day so they don't lose skills but can actually build on existing ones."
According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association," a new survey of 500 teachers confirms what has long been suspected: When children enter the classroom months behind in learning each fall, teachers are forced to waste time backtracking. Two-thirds of teachers polled reported that it takes them at least three to four weeks to reteach the previous year's skills at the beginning of a new school year. Another 24 percent said it takes them at least five or six weeks.
By participating in an organized reading program, Hickey said, children and teens get that additional motivation to read through incentives and prizes offered at the library.
"I think children need as much practice as possible over the summer months, and we need to encourage them as much as possible," she said.
This year at the Whitehall branch, children ranging from toddlers to pre-teens could read six to 12 hours to complete the program.
It's free to enroll, and children earn either a Summer Reading Club tote bag, a toddler word game or a flash drive, plus coupons to local attractions.
Children ages 5-11 who complete eight hours of reading also will be entered to win a free bike and helmet at area branches. Younger children up to age 4 could earn a High Five through the Highlights magazine with four hours of reading.
Teens earn credit for reading a total of 12 hours. If teens reach the second milestone on their record sheet, they could enter to win one of several prize packs.
Adults earn credit by reading by themselves or to a child. Adults earn their own prize package, coupon sheet and tickets to area attractions.
New to the program this year is an incentive for readers in Whitehall. Children who find a staff member or teen volunteer in the library could read to them aloud for 10 minutes when they visit. After they read aloud six times, for a total of 60 minutes, they earn an additional prize, Hickey said.
The Whitehall branch also will host a book club in the summer and will read Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck -- required reading for incoming freshman at Whitehall-Yearling High School.
Hickey said she hopes the club would help the teens start the year "with a working knowledge of the book" before they even hit the classroom.
"We're very excited," said Hickey, who is getting things tuned up for the program's kickoff June 8.
To register or get more information, visit the Whitehall branch. The program runs through Aug. 3.