Central Ohioans of any age are invited to put their remote-learning skills to the test with Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, which kicked off May 30 and continues through Aug. 1.

Because of the continued threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus, this year’s challenge will be entirely online, said Ben Zenitsky, the library system’s spokesman.

“At its core, this program has always been about reading, and there is something to be said about reading from the safety and comfort of one’s home,” Zenitsky said.

A library card, which is available through columbuslibrary.org, is necessary to participate.

Participants may sign up for free at columbuslibrary.org/summerreading or – new this year – with the free READsquared app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Customers of all ages can use the app to log in and track activity. They also can do the same on the library system’s website.

The program is open to children and adults of all ages.

“You know this program is geared toward children, but it’s so important adults model their behavior for the children,” Zenitsky said.

Patrons will be able to track their reading on a game board and play Reading Activity Bingo to be entered into raffles for prizes.

Library officials plan raffle drawings for gift cards and food offers throughout the program, as well as a raffle at the end of the program that includes children’s bicycles, helmets and locks for the 5-to-11 age group and bundles for all other age groups.

The challenge is divided into four age brackets: pre-readers, up to age 4; children, ages 5 to 11, teens, ages 12 to 17; and adults.

Pre-readers who complete and log at least six hours of reading are entered into the raffles. Children, teens and adults must complete 12 hours to be entered.

New this year is the Community Challenge, in which Franklin County readers are asked to join their efforts toward reaching a goal of reading for 6 million minutes. Participants can check the community’s progress when logged into their Summer Reading Challenge account.

“We think they can do it,” Zenitsky said. “I say kids are pretty resilient and they have adapted tremendously to these bizarre challenges. There is so much good stuff for these children to read.”

Also new this year is the School Challenge. One Franklin County elementary school, one middle school and one high school building with students recording the highest total number of reading minutes will receive free books. Students will be able to track their school’s progress on their Summer Reading Challenge accounts.

In last year’s challenge, 61,000 children and adults participated, Zenitsky said.

“Although customers won’t be coming inside our buildings, we are expecting robust, communitywide participation this summer,” said Kathy Shahbodaghi, the library system’s public-services director. “We’ve had lots of interest from teachers actively promoting the program to their students to keep reading skills strong.”

For more information, go to columbuslibrary.org/summerreading.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary