Students across the Nashoba Valley region are participating in reading programs at their local libraries this summer.
Libraries in Ayer, Groton, Harvard, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend are among those encouraging students to read over their summer vacation by offering prizes for participation in summer reading programs.
"A lot of kids see learning as something you only do during the school year. We promote the idea of lifelong learning and continuous study of what you're interested in. Reading everyday is important for everyone of every age," said Kat Lewin, Youth Services Librarian at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell.
Libraries are offering a variety of prizes for those who track their reading by minutes or number of books read, depending on the program.
The Groton Public Library is offering items such as movie passes, coupons, toys and gift cards to offer an incentive for children to read.
The nationwide theme for this summer's reading program is "Dig Into Reading!" for the children's program. The young adult program is "Beneath the Surface," and the theme for the adult program is "Groundbreaking Reads."
So far, hundreds of library-goers have signed up for programs across the region.
"Children are much easier to reach because their parents read to them," said Samantha Benoit, young-adult librarian at Ayer Library.
"For teenagers, most of their summer reading consists of things they have to read for school. To encourage them to read beyond assignments can be hard but fulfilling," Benoit said.
Some area libraries, including those in Townsend, Harvard, Pepperell and Shirley, offer summer reading programs for adults as well as children and teenagers.
Participation rates in these programs are often lower than that of the children's programs, but the programs are growing.
At the Townsend Public Library, the chance to win a prize such as a gift card each week offers adults an incentive to track their summer reading, said head children's librarian Molly Benevides.
"I think its important because a lot of people feel that they don't have the time to read and they just need a little incentive to keep themselves reading, and everyone loves to get a little prize," Benevides said.
"Summer is one time when people feel like they can indulge and read something they don't feel like they have time to read during the year," she said.
Abby Kingsbury, head children's librarian at the Harvard Public Library, said both the adult and teenager programs are growing in popularity.
"For adults, especially if they have young children, it sets a really good model for the kids, in addition to the fact that its fun for the adults," Kingsbury said.
"And with teenagers, you want to keep them reading all summer, and keep them reading for pleasure in addition to all the summer reading they now have to do for school," she said.
Although the programs have already begun, library patrons can continue to sign up throughout the summer.
Groton Children's Services Librarian Karen Dunham said the ultimate goal is to get kids to enjoy reading.
"I think reading is so important during the summer because there's such a long break before students go back to school, and to keep their reading skills up they need to read. We provide an incentive to get kids excited and motivated to read and come in to the library and maybe find out some things that they didn't know," she said.
"It's just really important. Anything we can do to get them motivated is a good thing."
Follow Chelsea Feinstein at Twitter.com/CEFeinstein.