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Starting June 15 kids can get prizes for literacy activities and attend super-fun shows and events

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - The popular Knights of Veritas will show off their skills and talk about science from 6-7 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, at the Fairview-Columbia Library. Huzzah!Multnomah County Library's popular free summer reading program kicks off today, Friday, June 15, by offering prizes, entertaining programs and a fun way to help stave off summer learning loss.

Teachers are enthusiastic supporters of getting children and youths in the reading program.

Reading over the summer is "critical to help our students retain the skills learned for the nine months they were in school," said Julie Evans, Gresham-Barlow School District executive director of elementary education.

Evans said reading with your kids for just 20 minutes a day "will help build a community of learners." She recommended parents get involved by asking their student about their favorite part of a book or if there was a word they didn't understand that they could look up together.

"All this helps benefit our students in preventing the summer reading slump," Evans said.

Studies have shown that many students lose some of their skills and achievement over the summer when they are not in school and the slide is worse for children from low-income families. The library game and performances are a fun way to hook kids into reading over the school break.

The summer reading program is open to babies, children and teens. If children aren't able to read yet, they can be read to or listen to an audio book. Other literacy activities can also qualify for the game. Everyone can sign up at the library starting Friday, June 15.

The reading program is designed as a game. For every reading segment or literacy activity a child completes, they mark off a square on the paper "game" board available at the library. Students win prizes for reaching milestones along the board.

After 45 segments of reading or literacy activities, kids have completed the game. Anytime after July 29, readers can bring the completed game board to the library and trade it in for a T shirt (while supplies last), coupons for Oaks Park, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Oregon Children's Theatre and an entry in the drawing for a grand prize.

The libraries also have free live performances, arts and crafts workshops and lots of entertaining activities tied to the summer program.

One example: The popular GameTruck will stop at the Fairview-Columbia Library, 1520 N.E. Village St., from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26. Teens can rock out on this state-of-the art gaming truck, which boasts dozens of video games, eight flat-screen televisions and more.

Prepare to be amazed by the juggling and jokes of Rhys Thomas from 3:15-4 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at the Rockwood Library, 17917 S.E. Stark St.

The four local library branches will host dozens of other lively performances and workshops through the summer months.

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