The East Baton Rouge Parish Library just kicked off its summer reading programs, Assistant Director Mary Stein said, and there’s something for every age group.

“You read, I read, babies read — or they’re read to. Of course, we all know that reading is its own reward, but for those who need that extra push, we’ve got those two. Reward or bribes, however you want to look at it,” Stein said.

It’s particularly important for students in school, though, because research shows there is a demonstrable slide in knowledge retention for those students who don’t continue to read throughout the summer break, she said.

“If you don’t read continuously, when you go back, you can often drop four to six months behind the next year,” Stein said.

This learning slide, as it’s called, can trigger a series of slides that can end in dropping out of school.

“We want to give our children every incentive to read throughout the summer, for that reason,” she said.

The reading program for children and teens includes not just summer reading activities, but also arts, crafts and other activities and programs to draw students to the library, where they may check out a book or two.

They start young. The library has “read to me” programs for babies and picture books for toddlers.

“That way, they establish the patterns early, and develop a habit of reading,” Stein said.

Summer reading is open to adults, as well, Stein said.

“Read three books, or read two books and attend a program, and you get something,” Stein said. “And we don’t care what you read.”

“We don’t care, we don’t judge. Read whatever floats your boat.”

There is a recommended reading list for children and teens, Stein said.

This year’s theme for the children’s program is Every Hero Has a Story.

Logs may be picked up any time before July 31. Summer activities will feature events that spotlight the performing arts, visual arts, literature, and science – all showing children how to tap into their creative sides. Children will receive a free book and incentives for completing books.

Children who are unable to read may join the read-to-me program and have an adult or older child pledge to read to them. Children’s summer reading logs completed and turned in through Aug. 15 will earn them a reading certificate, coupons from area vendors, and a chance to win a special prize from a local business or school supplies. The program is open to all children, from birth to age 11.

The theme for the Teen Summer Reading Program this year is Unmask!. Teens sixth- through 12th-grade may start their journey by signing up at any library location starting now, and will have until July 31, to turn in book logs for prize drawings.

Once teens have read six books, they’ll get a prize pack which includes a backpack, mason jar mug, a superhero Rubiks cube, and a superhero bag. Prize packs will be available while quantities last, and winning tickets are drawn each Monday for more prizes.

The top reader in the parish will receive a special prize, donated by OverDrive, an iPad mini.

The Adult Program, Escape the Ordinary, for ages 19 and up, will be filled with a variety of interesting events. Adults may pick up a reading log beginning Tuesday, May 26, and are asked to read three books in order to receive a summer prize pack.

This year’s prize pack will include a library tote, and there will be weekly drawings for various prizes. One of the three books can be substituted by attendance to any adult summer program.

The last day of Adult Summer Reading is July 31. At the end of the program, a special drawing will be held for all participants. For information on these or any other library programs, call (225) 231-3740 or visit the nearest library branch.