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The popular series features events for residents of all different ages, with performances by several groups

The summer reading program at the Newberg Public Library kicked off last week, reprising an annual event that features events for residents of all ages.GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Oregon Reptile Man, played by Richard Ritchey, will return for a hands-on look at various reptiles on June 26 at the Newberg Public Library.

The program is broken up into three different age brackets: children up to sixth grade, middle school and high school students, and adults. The program runs for 10 weeks, concluding on Aug. 17.

Mary Lynn Thomas, co-manager of children's services at the library, said for the younger kids to participate in the program they can do any combination of reading books, attending various library programs or completing literacy programs. Kids get a free book once they register for the program and Thomas said children don't have to be registered all summer. She said some register for the whole summer, while others just for a portion.

"That is fine," she said. "We want them reading all summer."

In addition to the reading aspect, Thomas said the library will host performers weekly and will offer free lunch every day until Aug. 23.

Every year, the summer reading program has a theme, she said. This year's theme is "A Universe of Stories," with several different space travel-themed performances and events planned.

"We usually register somewhere around about 2,000 kids a summer," she said, adding that there are generally different performers each year, picked to fit the theme of the event. For example, she said this year they will have NASA program for the kids to participate in, as well as a hands-on workshop headlined "Our Place in the Space."

The event features non-space, travel-based performances as well. For example, the popular Oregon Reptile Man, played by Richard Ritchey, will return for a hands-on look at various reptiles at 11 a.m. June 26. There will also be a magician, a Japanese drumming ensemble and a show by Red Yarn, a local folk music group that performs with puppets.

There will be other events for kids, such as Lego building afternoons, arts and crafts programs, a graphic novel book club and fantasy games like Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.

For older kids, there are a few other events. Librarian Ruth Headley said there are programs that overlap for teens and younger kids, but one main difference is the book requirements. Headley said the older kids don't have to actually read a book to participate, but can alternatively find a way to interact with the library catalogue. For example, she said they can be doing everyday things – like walking the dog or going to summer camp – but if they can connect it to a book in the library's catalogue, that counts toward participation. For example, if a teen is going to summer camp, they could connect that experience to a novel about camping or a wilderness survival guide at the library.

"We want to get them to use the library without forcing them to read," Headley said, adding that at that age, forcing a young person to read might make them not want to do it on their own.

Headley added that there are other teen activities, such as themed hangout events. These events will be themed with familiar pop culture events, like superheroes, Harry Potter and the popular musical "Hamilton."

"It gets kids out of the house and connecting with other teens," Headley said, adding that there will also be writing groups for teens to come together and use their "creative minds even when they're not in school." There's also an art club once a week, virtual reality gaming night and other events.

"We pretty much have something going on weekly," she said.

Finally, adults have limited programming, but Denise Reilly, who works in adult services, said there are things going on. The adult summer reading program is open to all adults and those who participate can earn up to 10 entries for prize drawings. To earn an entry an adult either reads a book or keeps a count of how many minutes they are reading.

Reilly said these prizes largely come from local vendors, including gift cards to various coffee shops around town, an oil change and other prizes. There is also a grand prize at the end; the winner of that gets to choose one prize from a list of five that include a telescope, a package of Star Wars movies, a gift card to a steam punk tea party for two, and other prizes.

"It's a really simple program," she said.

Finally, there are three movie events welcome to all. Reilly said the library will feature family-friendly movies, again with a theme of space travel. These include the documentary "Apollo 11" and feature films "Hidden Figures" and "First Man."

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