Joshua Morris, 12, likes to read. While browsing the teen section at the Zachary branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library on May 27, Morris selected one of James Patterson’s books — not one for adults, but one of the many the author has written for young adults.

The soon-to-be seventh-grader casually reads an excerpt from a Patterson novel, while his younger brother, Allen, 9, who will be entering fourth grade at Zachary Elementary in the fall, selects a book to read as well.

A couple of rows over from the siblings is their younger sister Kaytlyn Morris, 7, who is engrossed in a chapter book.

“Yeah, we like to read,” Joshua Morris says. “I really like James Patterson’s stuff.” Though none of Patterson’s books are on the seventh-grade required reading list at Northwestern Middle School, there are plenty of titles to keep Josh and his siblings happy and reading over the summer thanks to the EBRP Library’s Summer Reading Program.

The program launched Tuesday at branches parishwide, but Jennifer Felps, a children’s library technician at the Zachary branch, allowed the Morris family to sign up on Friday.

The program encourages and provides incentives for children, teens and adults to read more books over the summer.

“It prevents the ‘summer slide’ for youth,” teen services librarian Nancy Lockett said.

Though the summer break is a time for students to relax, it’s also a time when summer learning loss can occur. This learning loss is sometimes called the summer slide and happens when youth do not engage in educational activities during summer months, Lockett said.

According to Zachary branch manager Ginger Cagnolatti, 243 adults, 327 teens and 1,010 children signed up for the summer reading programs at the Zachary branch last summer.

“We have plenty of great books, exciting events and fabulous prizes for every age group, so the entire family can participate,” Cagnolatti said.

Reading logs are available through July 31 for each age group, each with its own theme and guidelines, however, the goal is the same: to read.

“Check Meowt ... Read Something Groovy!” is the theme for the children’s program, and for youth reaching their reading goals by Aug. 15, each will receive a certificate, a free book, coupon incentives from local merchants and be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate.

As an added incentive, each week a child reads or is read to through July 31, he or she will receive a “Pete the Cat Groovy Button” to add to a chain that can be worn on a zipper pull, sneaker, in the hair or attached to a bag.

“The only requirement is that reading logs must be stamped weekly at the library to verify what was read to receive a button,” Cagnolatti said. A total of nine buttons can be earned.

“We also have a host of activities and events planned for children throughout the summer that feature the performing arts, visual arts, literature and science,” Cagnolatti said.

For teens in sixth through 12th grade, the theme is “Get in the Game: READ.” That program began May 20 and runs through July 31 as well, and teens must sign up at any branch of the library. When they do, they’ll earn library bucks, which can be applied to library fines owed or chances to win stuff.

“For every three books read, teens will be entered into a weekly drawing for some awesome prizes,” Lockett said. “For every six books read, they’ll receive a backpack, ear buds and more library bucks.”

June and July are filled with events just for teens, including movie, game and trivia nights and arts and crafts and video game events. Meeting monthly are the creative writing club Scribblers and the Teen Council, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities.

“We have a great group of volunteers here at the Zachary library. Some have signed up for our Book Buds program that pairs a teen with a child, but the child reads to the teen,” Lockett said.

The adult summer reading program for ages 19 and up is themed: “Exercise Your Mind. Read!” The program is filled with a variety of interesting events, and adults can pick up their reading logs at any branch through the end of July.

Adults are asked to read three books in order to receive a summer prize pack, and as with children and teens, there are many events and activities for adults over the summer, including computer classes, several walking clubs, book clubs and book talks, do-it-yourself events, movie nights, knitting and quilting activities, plenty of game, hobby and specialized learning events.

Summer reading logs for all three age groups must be picked up by July 31 with programs completed and turned in by Aug. 15. For details about Summer Reading programs or location hours, call the Zachary branch, 1900 Church St., at (225) 658-1840; Pride-Chaneyville branch, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Road, at (225) 658-1540; or the Baker branch, 3501 Groom Road, at (225) 778-5940. For upcoming events, visit ebrpl.com/