Summer is considered a time to wind down, kick back and enjoy the warm weather. However, for a public library, summer is the busiest time of year!

Summer is the best time to read for fun, and the annual Summer Reading Program provides even more incentives to read with awesome prizes for achieving reading goals and a wide array of events and programs planned to encourage learning, growth and discovery throughout the summer months. While SRP is great for keeping kids’ minds sharp while school is out of session, all ages are invited to participate — and best of all, it’s free!

The theme for this year’s annual Summer Reading Program is “A Universe of Stories,” and Omaha Public Library will offer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs that are as much fun as they are educational.

Learn what it’s like to garden in outer space, use creativity and problem-solving skills, practice coding without a computer or dissect an owl pellet to discover what the owl ate. Learn how to design, build and fly a drone, and observe how different shapes affect its flight. There will also be craft programs to make DIY galaxy crayons, jewelry and slime, and to create cosmic bath bombs and soap.

Journey to the stars with Gifford Farm’s STARLab Mobile Planetarium. View the night sky as seen in Nebraska and hear stories of the constellations. Dr. Oxygen will present fun, interactive explorations of science. The Strategic Air and Space Museum talk about the atmosphere and offer demonstrations on the nature of pressure. Omaha Children’s Museum’s resident “Seussical Scientist” will bring Dr. Seuss classics to life with experiments and silliness inspired by his books. Visit with three native Nebraska raptors from the Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery program and learn about their hunting skills and habitats. Omaha Astronomical Society members will teach us about telescopes and how to use them to identify the constellations.

The stars aren’t just in the sky this summer! Kids and teens are invited to W. Dale Clark Main Library to try their hand at singing, dancing, acting and storytelling, and to make a star for the Universe of Stories Walk of Fame. Kids ages 8 to 12 are invited to sign up for the Thespians in Training program at Saddlebrook Branch to learn theater basics, blocking and stage directions, then write a script, design the sets and host a performance.

All of these exciting events are just a sampling of the many things happening at your neighborhood Omaha Public Library branches and at locations “Out & About” the metro area. Children’s librarians will hold special storytimes at parks, playgrounds and other interesting locations that are fun to explore, including the Gifford Park Neighborhood Market, Stone Ridge Splash Park, Do Space, Joslyn Art Museum and Hy-Vee.

Visit omahalibrary.org or any Omaha Public Library branch to register for SRP and to view or pick up a full schedule of events. There’s always something to do or read at the Omaha Public Library this summer, and we took care of all of the planning, making it easy for you to relax. It is summer, after all!

Thank you to the Richard Brooke Foundation, this year’s SRP presenting sponsor; and additional thanks to Cox, Mutual of Omaha, the Sokolof Foundation in memory of Richard Rosinsky, the special donor-advised fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation, and the many other sponsors who help to create “A Universe of Stories” and opportunities for learning and making memories for Omaha families this summer.

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