Only days before the summer break begins for school kids, the Lanesboro and Preston public libraries are stepping up to keep children learning and reading throughout the summer. Both libraries are offering reading programs with small prizes as rewards for the readers and special activities that will continue to encourage the students to read.

June 3 brings the beginning of the summer activities for the Lanesboro Public Library with the Polkas & Paws, Just Because! kickoff at 3 p.m.

"Summer reading fun begins with the Pint Size Polkas. We will enjoy great music with theme-appropriate hats, fancy dance moves, trivia games and reading fun," noted Tara Johnson from the Lanesboro Public Library.

The reading program in Lanesboro is divided into age groups with the number of books varying to compensate for the length of the book. The program is open to children up to 13-years-old who are either reading independently or with their parents or caregivers.

When checking out books each week, the children receive a small prize and are entered into the grand prize drawing later on in the summer.

A number of exciting activities are scheduled in Lanesboro in conjunction with the reading program. The kickoff on June 3 will be followed by "Cartooning with Gary Harbo" on June 9 at 6 p.m. where the participants will learn to draw their own characters with step-by-step drawing instructions.

A week later, on June 16, at 6 p.m. actors from the Great River Shakespeare Festival will entertain and conduct an interactive stage combat workshop.

Anyone who loves LEGOs may want to attend the LEGO building contest at the library on June 23 at 6 p.m.

July also hosts four of these events at the Lanesboro Library. Some of these events include Robert the Magician with "Professor Marvel's Aussie Adventure" on July 8, Make Your Own Marshmallow Animals on July 14, Balloon Stories with Kevin Lind on July 22 and Best Dressed Pet Contest on July 29. All activities will begin at 3 p.m. with the exception of July 14, which starts at 6 p.m.

Story time for preschool kids will also be available each Wednesday in June and July at 9:45 a.m. with a break on July 2.

Preston Public Library opens its summer program on June 10, with the reading program beginning June 9. The reading program is available for participants from toddlers to seniors in high school.

"Whenever they come in to read books they will get a prize and there will be a weekly drawing to which a local business contributes the prize," said Beth Anderson, head librarian at Preston Public Library. "Some of the kids get to be pretty competitive in their reading during the summer."

On June 10, the summer kickoff will begin with a concert put on by the Folk/Americana singer and songwriter, Dennis Warner. He will demonstrate a unique blend of humor, audience participation and serious music for both adults and families. His performance will begin at 2 p.m.

From then on, special activities will be at 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the months for children in first through fifth grades. These may include crafts or putting together short plays. The only exception to the dates is on fair week. As the fourth Tuesday is during the fair, special activities will be put off until the fifth Tuesday in July.

In addition, there will be story time for children, ages 0 to 6, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the months at 10:30 a.m. Smoky the Bear may also make an appearance during story time, Anderson promised.