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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams St., Jefferson City Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

A Universe of Stories awaits readers this summer.

The Missouri River Regional Library will participate in the nationwide summer reading program, which begins at the local library with a kick-off event for the children's program Saturday.

The event, scheduled 1-2 p.m. Saturday, will feature The Fishin' Magicians.

Program participants are invited to "go on an outer space adventure where planets and stars appear and disappear" and "see a magical chimpanzee puppet perform tricks and hear it reminisce about when chimps traveled into space," according to information on the library's website.

There will be registrations and reading logs available at the event, MRRL Marketing Manager Natalie Newville said.

"The program is very similar to years past in that it is for all ages — children, teens and adult sections," Newville said. "It will feature two levels of prizes."

Registrations will be available at the library from Saturday to July 14. Once registered for the program, participants have opportunities to complete a specified number of reading hours for their age group.

In the children's group (ages 2-12), after readers complete the first prize level — Orbit Level — they will receive a free book.

After completing the second prize level — Moon Landing Level — they will receive a prize bag filled with reading club-themed items, another free book, and an astronaut figurine.

Readers will receive "Mission Complete" certificates after finishing both levels.

For every 10 hours teenagers read, they get a prize and entry into a drawing for a grand prize. There are no limits to the number of prizes or entries they may receive.

Drop by the Teen Zone or go online to register for the program and pick up reading logs.

Adults who track their reading (or listening to audiobooks) can earn free books. After completing four titles, an adult reader may choose a free book. Completion of eight books gets them entered into a grand prize drawing.

The annual Capital Read title will count as two books.

The Fishin' Magicians — Amy Short and Steve Craig — are based out of southwest Missouri. They are volunteer naturalists with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Lifelong learners, the two participate in Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild and Stream Team training and activities. They also serve as volunteer docents at the Native Butterfly House in Springfield. Their shows include a humorous mix of magic and mystery, according to their website. The magicians use props to perform classic and original magic and adapt the shows to each audience — based on age, families or groups.

New to the reading program this year will be "reading for fines," in which children may come in and read at the library to help pay off overdue book fines. For each two hours they read, the library will forgive $2 in fines, Newville said.

"That should help with the 'summer slump' and help remove some of the barriers they have for checking out materials," she said. "If it is a small child, their parents would come in and read to them as well."

Because the summer reading program is space-based, during the summer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar System Ambassador Joy Johnson is to provide programs at the library. Johnson is a middle school teacher with Jefferson City Public Schools.

The Mission Complete certificate provides readers access to an end-of-club party Aug. 10. Each party-goer will receive five raffle tickets with chances to win one of an array of prizes.

Mad Science of St. Louis will perform at the library as part of a "Walking on the Moon" show.

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