The Columbus Metropolitan Library will give customers of any age another opportunity to keep their reading skills fresh during summer.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library will give customers of any age another opportunity to keep their reading skills fresh during summer.

The library system will launch its annual Summer Reading Club -- this year titled Be a Hero. Read -- on May 30 at all 21 community branches.

"We want everyone to be reading over the summer regardless of age," said Ben Zenitsky, a spokesman for the library.

Registration, which is free and open to the public, will be made available May 30 either online -- club -- or at each branch.

"At CML, our primary strategy is to impact 'young minds' with out-of-school learning," Zenitsky said.

"(The) Summer Reading Club is a major component of that, particularly as recent test scores have shown alarming trends around the area of third-grade reading," he said.

"Studies have shown that kids who do not read over the summer can actually lose reading skills that they'll need when school starts back up again in the fall," he said.

"Summer Reading Club encourages kids to keep those reading skills sharp and begin to develop a love of reading."

Youngsters can sign up to earn books. A boy's and girl's bicycle with helmets will be awarded at the end of the Summer Reading Program, which ends Aug. 1. Adults also can win prizes and entry into raffles.

Add to that a host of guests throughout the summer, including musicians, artists and animal performances.

Entertainment will differ from place to place.

Jennifer Hess, manager of the Shepard Branch, said the various activities have drawn anywhere from 20 to 100 visitors.

"Even with a small location like ours there is a lot of interest in what we do, which is exciting," Hess said.

The only significant change this year is that a kickoff party won't be held at the Main Branch, which is closed for renovations.

However, events will be held May 30 at the Hilliard, Hilltop, Karl Road, Martin Luther King, New Albany and South High branches. June 1, additional events will be held at the Hilliard, Linden, Parsons and Shepard branches.

Zenitsky said enrollment has grown steadily, partly because of the state's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, in which students must meet a minimum score on the state reading test to advance to the fourth grade.

"But another major reason is that there are some truly wonderful books out for young people right now: Divergent, Maze Runner, Diary of a Wimpy Kid," Zenitsky said.

"Kids have countless reading options and they're seeing that reading can be a lot of fun."

Reading Buddies will return to help kids with their reading skills.

Teen and adult volunteers give 15-minute one-on-one reading support.

Food and closed beverages are permitted in the library, except near the computers. Meanwhile, free lunch programs will be offered Monday through Friday at the Driving Park, Hilltop, Karl Road, Martin Luther King, Parsons, Shepard, South High and Whitehall branches.

Times vary from branch to branch.