KENT: The third-annual Winter Reading Program is underway at the Kent Free Library and the library is looking to use the incentive-based program to increase children's involvement in library activities during the winter months.
The program is similar to the one the library runs during the summer, according to Youth Services Manager Sarah Wilsman. The Winter Reading Program runs through March 2.
"This is our third year doing this and we really want to generate participation and get people, especially kids, into the library during the winter months," Wilsman said. "They can earn prizes for continuing to do normal library activities they already do."
To make the program appealing to not only younger children, but also to teenagers, the library has expanded the scope of the reading program to include a separate prize category for teenagers. Children in fifth grade and under earn "snowflakes" for common library activities such as attending a library program, checking out five books or writing a book review.
Each snowflake they earn represents another contest entry and gives the children a chance to earn picture books, DVDs and other media items. A DVD of popular Disney movie "Brave" and "Star Wars" are among the prizes available for younger children.
There is also a copy of "Ice Age: Continental Drift," the latest in the popular animated movie franchise, with candy, and a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records.
For teenagers, the contest is slightly more sophisticated, in the form of a library bingo card. Teens also have their own category in the reading program for the first time and earn entries for downloading songs using an app available on the library's website, borrowing CDs and movies and checking out books.
The prizes for the teen category are $25 gift cards for Target and Apple iTunes gift cards.
"There isn't any registration, so getting involved is easy," Wilsman said.
Although the program isn't as expansive as the summer version, library officials are hoping that the program helps to continue a trend that saw attendance increase significantly in 2012. Wilsman said the final figures are still being calculated, but library use was up by an estimated 30 percent last year.
Along with the children's area, Wilsman said, the playroom is also a draw for families, especially for parents looking for a chance to get their children out of the house during the winter months when inclement weather isn't conducive to playing outdoors.