Besides working on achieving summer reading goals, children and teens of all ages will find arts, crafts, story-crafts, phonics videos, presentations and puzzles to keep them busy at the Zachary Branch Library.

On Friday, several children visited the local branch of the East Baton Rouge Public Library to turn in their reading logs and collect an incentive.

Carson Southall, 5, of Zachary, the son of Zachary High teachers Megan and Ryan Southall, visited the library with his brother and infant sister, who are all taking part in the nationwide program — 1,000 books before kindergarten — designed to encourage parents to read to their children every day.

“We try to come to the library as often as possible, at least twice a week,” said Megan Southall, who said she reads a lot of books to her children.

“The concept is simple but the rewards are priceless,” Zachary Librarian Nancy Lockett said.

Parents, grandparents, guardians or baby sitters can read a book, any book, to their newborn, infant, toddler or pre-schooler and it will count toward the overall goal — to read 1,000 books before the child starts kindergarten.

Books can be repeated, Lockett said.

Travis Kelly, 2, of Zachary, visited the library with his mother and grandmother and received a book bag as an incentive to keep reading.

“It’s really not that hard if you think about it. If you read just one book a night, you will have read about 365 books in a year, which is 730 books in two years and 1,095 books in three years,” Lockett said.

All 14 branches of the EBRPL system are participating, and librarians can suggest book titles for parents to read with their children.

The program is suggested for children age 4 and younger, and is much like a summer reading program.

Reading logs are color-coded for each set of 250 books that are read.

When the parent comes by the library, preferably with their child, they’ll receive an incentive and a new colored reading log for the next set of books.

Incentives, which are given at various levels, include special stickers, decals, book bags, posters, certificate of merits, a copy of “Off We Go” by Will Hillenbrand, and an invitation to a special party to be held in August at the Main Library in Baton Rouge for those who complete the program.

“It’s not a race, but the key is perseverance,” Lockett said. “The idea is to make it exciting and fun and to engage your child in books.”

Hailey Washington, 4, who played with puzzles while visiting the library on Friday with her mother, LaTrisha, said she likes checking out books and playing with puzzles.

Parents can sign up at any of the library branches and pick up a reading log during library hours, which are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday in Zachary and until 8 p.m. in Baker; and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays at both branches.