Craig Davis' magic and juggling show is part of the entertainment for this year's Summer Reading Program. Submitted photo

Maricopa Public Library wants to reach new heights with its Summer Reading Program.

The annual event is off and running, with programming for ages 0 to 17. With each book participants read, they will be building skyscrapers. The theme this year is “Build a Better World.”

Library Manager Erik Surber said those who read 400 minutes during the program, which runs through July 14, will build the Empire State Building. Reading 800 minutes will build the Willis Tower (formerly Sears). And 1,200 minutes will equal Burj Khalifa.[quote_box_right]Summer Reading Events
June 8 at 2 p.m. Mad Science Fire and Ice Show
June 5 at  10 a.m. Craig Davis Magic and Juggling Show
June 12 at 10 a.m. Chuck Field, Comedy Ventriloquist
June 14 at 5:30 p.m. Red Rohall T-Shirt Designs for Teens
June 15 at 2 p.m. Radical Reptiles
June 19 at 10 a.m. Fairytale Princesses
June 22 at 20 p.m. Step Up Clydesdale
June 26 at 10 a.m. Great Arizona Puppet Theatre
June 28 at 5:30 p.m. Anime for Teens
June 29 at 2 p.m. Jungle Jill Animal Encounters
July 8 at 9 a.m. Guided LEGO Build
July 10 at 10 a.m. Ronald McDonald
July 13 at 2 p.m. Magic with the Amazing Kaden[/quote_box_right]

“They can choose whatever challenge they think they’re up to,” Surber said. “If they are completed by July 14, they can win prizes.”

Those include passes to UltraStar and Arizona State Parks.

He said if toddlers are read to or if children listen to audio books, it all counts. Older siblings reading to younger siblings counts for both.

“It’s something to do over the summer, and they learn to set goals and pace themselves,” Surber said.

The program also prevents the “summer slide” in learning so children don’t fall months behind during vacation. Last year, 1,500 participated.

The Summer Reading Program is not just about reading. It is chock-full of entertainment and hands-on fun.

Events in June include a fire-and-ice science show, a magic show, a ventriloquist, live animals, puppet theater, fairytale princesses and, for the teens, T-shirt designing and anime. A hallmark event coming in July is the Cactus Brick LEGO build to match the theme.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.