Ready for an out-of-this-world experience this summer? Visit one of the community’s most valuable and underutilized resources — the Paul Sawyier Public Library, which is currently registering readers of all ages (including adults) for its summer reading program “A Universe of Stories.”

Sponsored by the Friends of the Paul Sawyier Public Library, the annual program, which officially starts Thursday, offers readers the opportunity to participate in free learning events and earn chances to win prizes.

Early online registration is now open for kids, tweens, teens and adults. By tracking each book read via the website, participants can earn badges for their chance at $50 and $100 gift cards.

While the prizes are enticing, it is more important to get folks into the habit of reading — especially children. Studies show students can forget up to 30% of what they have learned through what education officials term “the summer slide.” One way to curb the loss of knowledge is by encouraging daily reading — whether it be a newspaper, magazine, novel or even a recipe.

Local school districts also recognize the value of continued learning when school is out. Franklin County Schools elementary school students received a pack of Scholastic books to read over summer break and Frankfort Independent Schools has crafted an additional two weeks of learning opportunities into its fall and spring break calendars for the next two school years.

The library has thousands of books to loan, but for those looking for a bargain, the Friends of PSPL is hosting its giant summer book sale starting Tuesday with a preview night for Friends members from 4-7 p.m. Hardback books are $1. Paperbacks are a quarter and large paperback books cost 50 cents.

The public is welcome Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday is bag and box day — fill a box for $5 or a bag for $2.

With almost daily free programming for children and families and a kickoff pool party at Juniper Hill Aquatic Center for those younger than 18 who register this week, the library truly does offer a little something for everyone.

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