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In an effort to null the summer lull and keep academic skills sharp, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings along with students and community supporters kicked off the 2016 Mayor’s Summer Reading Club today. The free eight-week program, which runs June 4 - Aug. 6, encourages daily reading of books, newspapers, magazines, audiobooks and e-books. Presented by the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club is a family affair, open to children and adults of all ages. Sign up begins today (May 17) in person at any of the 29 Dallas library locations, the Dallas Public Library’s Bookmobile, online at dallaslibrary.org/msrc or at the kick-off parties held June 4-10 at all branches. (Check with each local library for dates and times of kick-off parties.) Every child who signs up will receive a free book.

Young club members can earn weekly incentive prizes – from books and Pizza Hut gift certificates to zoo, circus, theater, museum and baseball tickets – by reporting the number of hours or books read in person at any Dallas Public Library or online at dallaslibrary.org/msrc. (See details and rules below.) Kids and adults who meet the grand prize drawings qualifications will be entered for a chance to win tablets, early-literacy games, hotel stays, restaurant certificates, movie passes and more.

Mayor Rawlings stressed that regular reading is tremendously beneficial because it prevents summer learning loss, inspires curiosity, enhances comprehension and vocabulary, and helps establish a foundation for young people to become lifelong readers and learners.

“Summer is certainly a time for kids to relax, but it’s essential that we keep reading alive as part of our family’s daily routine,” said Mayor Rawlings. “We all take time out of our day to eat, exercise, sleep and text our friends. Reading should be right up there - it’s about keeping our minds healthy and engaged.”

Mayor Rawlings introduced and thanked Pizza Hut for coming on board as presenting sponsor for 2016.

“Literacy is an issue that Pizza Hut has long supported through the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program – even during the time Mayor Rawlings was leading our company,” said Artie Starrs, president, Pizza Hut. “BOOK IT! has inspired a love of reading in classrooms across the country for more than 30 years, including more than 14,000 classrooms in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We are proud to build on this heritage by joining the Dallas Public Library, Mayor Rawlings and all of the community partners in building lifelong readers through the Mayor’s Summer Reading Program.”

Throughout the summer, weekly activities will be held at Dallas library locations thanks to The Dallas Foundation, which stepped up for a third year to fund the Club’s STEAM initiative (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). The weekly STEAM activities will include creating a 3D book, building an Art Bot robot that can draw, making musical instruments, learning about the principle of Pi, and exploring the science behind shadows and germination, to name a few. Also, interactive programs will be presented by partner organizations such as Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Museum of Art and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club and all summer programming at Dallas Public Library are a big part of the Dallas City of Learning program. Children can track all the learning they do during the summer at the Library, at camp, at museums and other enriching places around Dallas at dallascityoflearning.org. City of Learning connects students to activities that interest them and helps them find new things to explore.

READING CLUB RULES AND PRIZES. Each week, participating young club members will have a chance to earn an incentive prize by reporting what they read to any Dallas Public Library location or online at dallaslibrary.org/msrc. All readers may report any reading material including books, e-books, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines.

The Club begins June 4 with the first prizes awarded June 11. To win weekly incentive prizes, children ages 6-12 must log five hours of weekly reading. (Club members under age 6 log three hours.) Teens ages 13-18 receive the first incentive prize for reading four books, a second incentive prize for reading eight books, and a chance to win a grand prize for reading more than eight books. Parents and adults who participate receive a Chipotle coupon for signing up and, for every book logged, they are entered in prize drawings awarded weeks 4 and 8.

Weekly incentive prizes include tickets and gift certificates to Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Zoo, Dallas Stars, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Nasher Sculpture Center, Ringling Bros. Circus, SMU Meadows Museum and SMU Athletics (Soccer); and the Texas Rangers.

Grand prizes. Young ones ages 0-5 who log at least 24 hours of reading by July 30 will be entered for grand-prize drawings. Children ages 6-12 must log 40 hours of reading by July 30, and children ages 13-18 must read and log at least eight books to qualify for the grand prize drawings. Adults can also enter for grand prize drawings by logging books they read.

Grand prizes include passes and gift certificates to area attractions and restaurants including Adventure Landing; Al Biernat's Restaurant; Alley Cats; AMC Highland Village 12 with IMAX; American Airlines Center/Center Operating Company; AT&T Performing Arts Center; Bahama Beach; Billy Bob's Texas; Braindead Brewing; Casa Manana Theatre; Celebration Restaurant, Market and Catering; Dallas Arboretum; Dallas Cowboys; Dallas Opera; Disco Kids Dallas; Drybar; Fadi's Mediterranean Grill; Frisco Rough Riders; Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic; Hattie's; Hyatt Regency Dallas; Improv Comedy Club; Iron Cactus; Jumpstreet; Live Nation; Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; LOOK Cinemas; Maggiano's Little Italy-North Park; Magic Time Machine; Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine; Mattito's Tex Mex; Medieval Times; Mesquite Arena; Nasher Sculpture Center; NRH20; Pappas Bros. Steakhouse; Perot Museum of Nature and Science; Perry's Steakhouse and Grill; Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum; Sheraton Hotel; Spaghetti Warehouse; State Fair of Texas; Strikz Entertainment; Terillis Restaurant & Bar; The Original Pancake House; Theatre Three; Tootsies; and Woodlands American Grill.

For 43 years, the Dallas Public Library’s summer reading program has encouraged nearly 275,000 children to read. The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club is a collaborative effort between the City of Dallas Mayor’s Office, Dallas Public Library, Dallas ISD and dozens of community sponsors and donors.

To sign up or learn more, go to dallaslibrary.org/msrc or call 214-670-1671.