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Kids sign up for a children's summer reading program at the Salt Lake City Library.

“I’m bored” will soon be the cry heard round the valley as the school year comes to an end. The trick with children is to keep them actively learning in a fun way in the summer so they don’t lose the momentum they built during the school year. The thought of three months of idle time wasted in front of the TV or playing video games is enough to give any responsible parent nightmares.

Fortunately, the Salt Lake area offers several summer reading programs to help young learners stay in the groove. Summer is a great time to discover new worlds, new characters and new ideas. Here are some of the programs available this summer to keep your students happy and reading.

Libraries: Both the Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City libraries offer a reading program called Dream Big. The county program kicked off June 2 at the opening of the Viridan Event Center and West Jordan Library.

The Dream Big program runs through Aug. 18. Participants can receive a variety of incentive prizes as they complete their reading goals by bringing their reading record into their local library by Aug. 18. There are also programs for toddlers called Little Dreamers, teens called Own the Night, and for adults it’s Expand Your Universe. Children are welcome to sign up at any library location.

The city libraries had their kick-off parties on June 9 at the various city library locations.

The Salt Lake City libraries also offer the teen and adult programs. Sign-up is available at any of the library locations, and the summer will end with big parties at the Main Library. On Saturday, Aug. 11, a family pajama party for 2 p.m., and on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. will be a zombie party.

Barnes & Noble: Barnes & Noble offers a summer program called Imagination’s Destination. Children can pick up a reading journal at any store. They then read any eight books and record them in their journal. They also record a short note about whom they would recommend the book to and why. When they’ve completed their journal, they take it back to Barnes & Noble and select a free book from the list provided with the reading journal form. The program is for grades 1 through 6. It runs from May 22 to Sept. 4. The Barnes & Noble staff recommends completing the journal early to get the best selection of the free books, since the book must be in stock to be eligible.

Utah State Fair: Read and Win at the Utah State Fair is a fun program sponsored by the Utah State Fair. It is open to children between the ages of 6 to 12 as of Sept. 1. Kids read 10 books between April 1 and July 27 and record them on a reading chart. The chart can be downloaded from the Utah State Fair website. The reading chart needs to be verified by a teacher, parent, guardian or librarian and mailed to the Utah State Fair, at 155 N. 100 West, Salt Lake City, 84116, and postmarked not later than July 27. Children will receive a gate entry pass, a ribbon bookmark, a coupon for a medium lemonade at Lemons on the Loose at the fair concessions and a ticket for one ride at the midway.

King’s English Bookstore: At the King’s English Bookstore, the staff offers something a little different in 20-year-old, summer reading groups led by certified teachers. They offer five levels based on the grade the child will be for the coming year; Pre-K/K, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th and 7th and up. The groups meet once a week for five weeks starting June 13. The participants read the assigned book before class and come for a discussion. This program has a cost of $50, not including the price of the books read.

Governor’s Commission on Literacy: Working in conjunction with the libraries’ Dream Big Program, the Governor’s Commission on Literacy puts out a summer reading challenge in the form of a summer calendar. The calendar, covering June, July and August, has ideas to stimulate reading. The calendars are distributed through elementary schools and sent home for the students to use during the summer. Families who return a progress card, contained in the calendar, can earn a free Happy Meal from McDonald's. The governor’s reading programs encourages reading with a child for 20 minutes a day and gives lots of fun suggestions to make it an enjoyable experience and thus help children develop early literacy skills for school.

The Governor’s Literacy Commission suggests to parents, “Be fun and creative. Ask questions as you read. Get a library card. Fill your home with books. Be a reading role model. Tell stories to your child.”

Giving a child a head start for the new school year is the best summer project of all.

After attending BYU and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new.