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story.lead_photo.caption Summer reading is underway at Callaway County Public Library, Holts Summit Public Library and other Daniel Boone Regional Library locations. Sign up online, over the phone or in person. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

It's officially summer at last — so why not escape the blazing sun by slipping into Narnia's unending winter or Westeros, where "winter is coming."

The summer reading programs at Callaway County Public Library and Holts Summit Public Library launched June 15 and will run until Aug. 15. This year's theme is "Imagine Your Story."

"We want kids to be thinking about their own story but also fairy tales and folk tales and that kind of thing," said Jerilyn Hahn, children's librarian at CCPL.

Both children and adults — and everyone in between — are invited to participate. Online or phone sign-up is encouraged this year due to social-distancing requirements. Visit dbrl.org/summer-reading-2020/register or call the CCPL at 573-642-7261 or the HSPL at 573-606-8770. Learn more at dbrl.org/summer-reading-2020. Materials may also be picked up in person at library locations.

This summer's reading program is available to four different age groups: ages 5 and younger, 5-12, 12-18, and 18 and older for adult readers. Each program offers an incentive upon completion that varies per age group — ages 0-18 get a free book, while adults may pick up a glass with the library logo. Prizes may be picked up beginning Aug. 1, and finishers will be entered into a drawing for other fun rewards. Teens and adults could even win an Amazon Fire Tablet.

Children ages 5 and younger must read 30 times with their parents and may also complete activities such as planting magic beans or looking for trolls at a bridge.

A new online offering from the library may help parents and children reach that 30-session goal, Hahn said. The library is now offering themed virtual activity bundles online.

"Each has a blurb written by us and a bunch of resources — online books, some video links and then an activity you can do, because (the libraries) can't do story time," she said. "I put together one on engineering for ages 4-7. It links to the Science Museum of Minnesota website."

Find them online at bit.ly/2YpibEY.

Children ages 5-12 must read for 15 hours and complete 10 activities, such as trying origami or setting up an obstacle course. Eager readers who complete their summer reading requirements early may also pick up a bonus bingo sheet to earn extra entries into prize drawings.

Teens must read for 15 hours, complete seven activities and write three book reviews; while adults are challenged to read three books, share three reviews and complete seven activities. Many of the activities for older participants are designed to encourage exploration of what the library has to offer beyond paperbacks: attending an online library event, downloading an audiobook or checking out a fantasy film on Kanopy or Hoopla, for example.

To make it easier for those living in rural areas to participate, children in kindergarten through grade 12 enrolled in school in Auxvasse, Kingdom City, Hatton, Mokane, New Bloomfield and Williamsburg can sign up to receive summer reading material and books through the mail. Register online at booksbysnail.org.

The summer reading site (dbrl.org/summer-reading-2020) has lists of suggested books for each age group to fit the "Imagine Your Story" theme, though any and all books, graphic novels or comic books count.

"You can read whatever you want," Hahn said.

She suggested two books her 8-year-old granddaughter has enjoyed. "The Wizard of Oz" is a great read-aloud option, Hahn said. The other is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series by Patricia Wrede, beginning with "Dealing with Dragons."

"It's about a princess who wants to go do things like learn to cook and fight, but she's told, 'You're a princess who's supposed to sit and look pretty and embroider,'" Hahn explained. "She runs away from home and meets all these fun fairy tale characters. She becomes a cook and librarian for a dragon. My granddaughter loved it and she's 8, and my son loved it and he's a grown-up."

Participants of all ages are also encouraged to join the "Six-Word Memoir" challenge. The library invites entrants to share about themselves or their life story in just six words.

"We did (this challenge) in past and it worked out beautifully; we had some wonderful entries," Hahn said. "It's based on Ernest Hemingway's six-word story ('For sale: baby shoes, never worn')."

All ages may participate, and there are only two rules: entries must be exactly six words, and each individual may submit only one entry.

"We'll be sharing them throughout the summer," Hahn said.

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