Thomas Shalin, youth services librarian, explained the theme this year for children is "One World, Many Stories."
"Everywhere you look, different countries, different cultures, they all have different tales," Shalin said. "The thing is, we are all one world and you notice in a lot of those tales, too, there are similarities. So, we all kind of share a commonality that we all have this planet to share but have different points of view and different stories to tell."
For teens grades 6-12, the summer theme is "You Are Here."
"[You are here] is the theme and, ideally, it's based on giving teens a sense of place -- like can you make a difference where you live and what is so special about where you live and your certain situation in life and how you can compare that to what other people are going through or where other people come from," Shalin said. "It's kind of like 'think locally' while thinking globally."
Through July 31, Bartow County libraries will be participating with libraries across the state in the Destination College Savings Sweepstakes, a contest that will award one summer reading program participant $5,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan college savings account. The local public library of the winner also will receive $1,529 to be used for its children and teen department.
"The idea behind [Path2College] is it supports further education for kids," Shalin said, "and what [Bartow County libraries] do in the summer, we also work with the schools because when they come in for summer reading it keeps them on target for the next grade, and so [Path2College] is just another way to continue having parents invest in their children's future."
Shalin explained children participating in the program must document they have completed 200 minutes of reading in 10 minute intervals or, for younger children, being read to for the same amounts of time. The program is open to all students up to fifth grade.
"When [children] read 10 minutes, they fill in a square on the [completion] sheet and when they reach 200 minutes they can come in and get a prize," Shalin said. "They can also enter the super grand prize drawing we have where we have a free book and meal at IHOP or Chili's."
Participating teens are expected to complete six hours of reading a week.
"We're also giving out food prizes every week," Shalin said. "[Participating teens] can enter to win a food prize from one of the fast-food restaurants around town, and if they get halfway through the [summer reading program] sheets, they can enter to win $25 cash and they get a prize from our prize box. If they finish the entire sheet, they can enter to win a $50 cash prize and they get a free book from our book box as well."
Shalin said participants are not limited to reading books acquired at the physical location of the library.
"This year we have a downloadable component," Shalin said. "Through the state we offer books and audiobooks online and for every electronic title or audio title a teen downloads, they can enter to win a $25 iTunes gift certificate." Shalin added, "[Participants] can read whatever they want. They can read their books from home, they can read magazines, they can read the newspaper -- there's no stipulation."
Colleen Knight, adult services coordinator, said the adult reading program will feature a daily blog on the library's website beginning May 30. She said the blog will be based on the books being read at the library throughout the summer and will allow participants to post comments.
"[The blog] gives [adults] a chance to participate [in the adult summer reading program] if you can't make it down to the library," Knight said.
Knight said adults participating in the adult reading program that read three books and complete one of the library's adult programs can be entered into a drawing for a Nook e-reader.
"We've got all kinds of fun and interesting programs this summer that we're going to be doing, everything from fun programs like bingo and seniors Wii bowling and things like our Friday night afterhours program, but we're also doing some programs that are more educational," Knight said.
Knight said, for example, she will be teaching a program this summer on how to use the library's downloadable e-books.
Registration for the programs can be done online at www.bartowlibraryonline.org beginning Friday or in person at one of the library branches. The main branch is located at 429 W. Main St. in Cartersville and can be reached at 770-382-4203.