The Verona Public Library’s summer reading programs keeps growing.

The children’s programs, for ages up to 17, reached 3,280 participants this year.

That is 200 more than the previous year, and 1,000 person jump from 2017, said Julie Harrison, assistant library director and head of youth service.

The program encourages kids to document the number of books they read or books that were read to them and earn prizes like coupons from Culver’s or Pizza Pit and two free books.

This year, the Friends of the Verona Public Library donated funds for library staff to buy new books as prizes, unlike in previous years, when the library relied on book donations, Harrison said. This improved the overall quality and the staff’s ability to choose popular books kids would enjoy.

“Having kids pick out books for their prize that they get really excited about was great,” she said.

The library also took a different approach to scheduling events and programming, Harrison said. Rather than condense the programs into the first six weeks of summer, the library decided to extend the events until the end of August.

The scheduling encouraged kids to come to library events and continue to think about reading as well as made things easier on staff, Harrison said.

“This worked out really well for us,” she said. “We had interest all through the summer.”

Some of the most popular events were Duke Otherwise, a popular children’s music musician, and an inflatable planetarium with Paul Kinzer that was in conjunction with the outer space theme. Kids were able to crawl through a tunnel into a dark dome while listening to Kinzer talk about space and looking up at the “stars.”

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