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Reading program, camps and other activities keep youth engaged and learning.

The Lake Oswego Public Library has kicked off a summer of activities, programs and camps that strive to help children keep learning and get outdoors.

In June, the library started its annual summer reading program, which invites youth to pick up a book and earn a chance to win prizes along the way. This year's theme is "Read Beyond the Beaten Path" and for every hour the participants read, they earn a ticket for a raffle of various prizes.

According to Andrea Milano, youth and technical services manager, the library hopes to keep children engaged with learning to curb what is known as the "summer slide."

"What I tell the kids every year when I visit their classrooms … is the importance of reading is that their brains have developed to maximum capacity at the end of the school year," she said. "To retain that learning and not have what we call a summer slide, they need to keep practicing."

For kids, the benefits of reading throughout the summer are said to stretch well into the school year. According to studies from Scholastic, 77% of students who read during their off months see higher grades and concentration levels and attain quicker retention rates during school.

"Just like any other skill, like learning to play an instrument, you want to keep reading so that when they return to school they can hit the ground running," Milano said.

As soon as youth sign up for the reading challenges, they are given a free book to help them get started. The Friends of the Public Library's Booktique donated the books, and Milano said there is a selection of popular, bestselling books to help kids get started with their summer reading. So far, close to 1,000 books have been given away.

"We figured that if we want kids to read during the summer, let's give them a book they're excited about," Milano said.

Some activities associated with the program are building a fort, reading a spooky story, making "upcycled" art or going for a hike. Children also can participate in an activity to earn a raffle ticket, and at nine different parks throughout Lake Oswego participants can find a question about a hidden number.

At Woodmont Natural Park, children are asked how many trees they can crawl through.

"Reading may not be a kid's favorite thing, so now they can still do things and participate in the raffle and get themselves outdoors," Milano said.

The raffle prizes were all donated by local businesses; Lake Oswego Ace Hardware, Chuckie Pies, Fills Donuts, Papa Murphy's, Next Level Burgers, Pastini, and The Sylvia Beach Hotel.

The library will host camps for children from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday at Rossman Park. If children cannot participate in the one-day camps, the library offers takeaway kits that include the activities completed at that week's session. Some of the future camps include sidewalk art and sun printing.

"This is our way to make sure everyone can participate in something," Milano said.

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