WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange kids are getting ready to blast off into a “Universe of Stories,” which is this year's theme for the annual West Orange Public Library (WOPL) Summer Reading Program. Making up one of the library’s flagship programs, the summer reading program strives to encourage children to keep reading over the summer.

“We want kids to keep reading and keep engaged with the library over the summer so they don't slide back with their reading skills,” said children’s services librarian Jane Sawyer, who added that the reading program is also designed to make reading exciting by incentivizing children to get prizes for the reading that they do over the summer.

Last year, a combined total of 1,500 children and teens participated in the summer reading program, according to Sawyer, and the library hopes to exceed those numbers this year.

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Families are invited dance to music from a DJ and participate in a variety of activities such as space-themed carnival games, arts and crafts, and face painting during the family kickoff party being held on Monday, June 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

But the fun doesn’t stop there; there will also be a teen kickoff on Wednesday, June 26 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., where incoming sixth-to-12th graders will feel like they are on a televised game show challenging their friends' knowledge in space-themed trivia in the ultimate battle of fun, laughter and entertainment. Hosted by Eric Dasher, this action-packed, galactic-themed game show will almost be ready for television—complete with lasers, sound and digital effects projected on a big screen. Pizza will also be served for participants.

Only teens are allowed at this event, so parents can drop off and pick up their children at the library.

Both events are free, but interested parties can register for the kickoffs on the library calendar HERE. And registration for the Summer Reading Program, which officially begins in July, is still open HERE.