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Good literacy skills can lead to higher grades in school, and some fun prizes to enjoy this summer.  

The West Linn Public Library kicked off its annual summer reading program in June, and youth ages 5-18 are invited to pick up a book and win a few prizes along the way.

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. And the West Linn library is excited to help youth improve their literacy skills year-round.

"For kids, the reading program is really about reducing that 'summer slide.' Once they're out of school, everything they learned that year can slip away. So reading throughout the summer really helps them," said Caitrin Lenartz, West Linn's emerging technologies librarian.

The Read Beyond the Beaten Path program instructs kids and teenagers to read at least 20 minutes a day for 25 days — a total of eight hours. The library gives participants free rein on the book genres they would like to read, from fiction to graphic novels and more. Audiobooks are accepted too.

The reading program is issued through Beanstack, a digital tracker that helps youth keep count of their reading. Families also can track their reading minutes the old-fashioned way and submit a piece of paper listing their literacy count for the month.

Once someone reaches their goals, they will receive a ticket to enter the library's grand-prize raffle to win a $50 Visa gift card. Kids also have the option of receiving a giant stuffed moose, and teenagers can collect a $50 Starbucks gift card.

Every participant will receive a free book after finishing their eight hours of reading.

The library is also offering a reading program for adults, who are instructed to read for at least eight hours throughout the summer.

"Adults have the option to do a little bingo card where they can read a poetry book or make something out of a cookbook," Lenartz said.

The last day to register is Aug. 7. The grand prize drawings take place Aug. 31, and participants must have completed their reading by then.

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