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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Tami Rosado hopes kids this summer put away their video games, turn off the television set and let their imaginations run wild.

She wants them to read.

“It lets them go to other worlds,” said Rosado, the reference librarian at Misawa’s Overstreet Memorial Library. “You’re limited by your imagination.”

Kids of all ages will have a chance to flex their minds and earn prizes as part of Pacific Air Forces’ annual summer reading program, which kicks off at most PACAF bases in the region later this month.

With the theme “Catch a Dragon by the Tale,” base libraries will display posters of big purple dragons sporting books, and at some places weekly story hour will include medieval tales. But kids can read about any topic and get credit for it as long as it’s age-appropriate and something they’ve never read before, said library directors.

The rules, age categories and prizes vary from base to base. One base requires books read for credit to be from the library; at most, babies and toddlers can get credit for books their parents read to them; and some libraries ask for book reports as proof the child read the book, while at others, only a reading log must be maintained. The overall goal of the summer reading program, however, is universal.

“It’s to get kids to read and to keep them reading,” Rosado said. “Because there’s such a long time between the end and start of school, we want to keep their reading abilities going. Especially at such a young age, if they stop,” they can lose some of those skills.

Libraries will try to entice readers to stick with the printed word through a variety of incentive prizes.

At Yokota Air Base, where more than 500 kids participated last year, a donation from the Yokota Officers Spouses Club was used to purchase several grand prizes, including a Mickey Mouse TV and DVD player, a 20-gigabyte MP3 player and a PlayStation Portable, according to library director Jeffrey Conner.

“It’s to encourage reading and to get them to come into the library, because they have to read library books,” he said, noting that last year, several participants read 120 books in nine weeks.

Registration for the summer reading program starts in June at most bases, though kids can join in at any time throughout the summer.

Here’s the story: How to sign up and what you can win

Misawa Air Base, Japan: The program for readers up to age 12 kicks off from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. June 21 with registration, story time, coloring activities and a drawing for a book. Book bags with free stuff will be given away. Kids younger than six earn incentive prizes for every three pictures they draw about a book that’s been read to them. Ages six and up must submit written book reports. Forms are available at the library. The program ends with a party — hosted by Ronald McDonald — from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 4 at the Mokuteki Ballroom. Gift certificates of $45 for Go-Kart rides at Weasel’s Den will be given away. Call DSN 226-4083 for more information.

Yokota Air Base, Japan: Register from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 18. Kids up to age 18 may participate. Library books must be read and a reading log maintained. Younger kids receive incentive prizes and can register for the grand-prize drawing for every 10 books read; readers 10 and up may register for every five books read. On July 13, prizes will be given away during a canvas tote-bag painting activity. The program ends Aug. 4. Call DSN 225-7490 for more information.

Andersen Air Force Base, Guam: The program began Monday and runs through July 22 for readers up to age 18. “For kids that can’t read yet, their parents can read to them — we’re even counting babies here,” said library director Mila Gaetano. Participants 9 and younger must read at least five books a week; for ages 10 to 18, the requirement is at least 50 pages a week. Reading logs are available at Andersen Base Library. Grand prizes to be given away at the end of the program are tickets to Tarza Water Park and Underwater World. Weekly prizes also will be handed out as readers bring their logs into the library. Call DSN 366-4291 for more information.

— Jennifer H. Svan

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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