CHESHIRE -- Public libraries large and small are taking part in the national summer reading program, celebrating this year's theme: "Dig into Reading!"

Kacy Westwood is celebrating her first time running the summer reading program at Cheshire Public Library; she was hired as the new librarian there back in October.

Monday's rainy weather brought in a steady stream of young patrons and caregivers, hunting for books and movies to check out.

"In this summer, this is our go-to spot," said Melissa Tarjick, of Cheshire, who was accompanied at the library by three of her children: Aleah, 10, Damien, 9, and Elley, 8.

Westwood said her goal for the summer is to bring in different kinds of programming and provide incentives for both children and adults to be engaged with all the library has to offer.

This past Saturday, for example, the summer reading program at Cheshire Public Library launched with a morning of geocaching, a style of treasure hunting in which seekers use a GPS device and coordinates to find hidden containers of rewards. The library has a geocaching kit that patrons can check out for up to a week, along with books about the natural landscape.

"There is plenty of research that shows students who don't read in the summer fall behind in learning. The summer reading program is one effort we use to help retain that level of intellectual curiosity and engagement," Westwood said.

The summer reading program includes free illustrated book logs in which kids can record their hours.


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There will also be a weekly series called SummerTimes, a story and craft program for children ages 4 to 8.

Melissa Pantano, Melissa Tarjick's cousin, met up with the Tarjicks at the library on Monday. The visiting Pantano children included Luci, 8, Sam, 5, Lena, 2, and 8-month-old Talia, who sat on her mother's hip while siblings browsed the book shelves.

"I think this is our fourth summer doing the reading program, but all my kids start in the tummy," Pantano said, noting that literacy can start prenatally.

Westwood said that patrons are neither too old nor too young to discover something new at the library, be it a program, literature or an audio book.

"We have lots of new things -- a new Facebook page, a new website, new materials. A lot of people in town still think the library is where you go to find old books, but that's not the case anymore. There's a lot going on here," Westwood said.