COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With many students set to kick off their summer breaks this week, Columbus libraries are helping students maintain their reading skills while away from the classroom.

For the first time in more than two years, the Columbus Metropolitan Library is launching its in-person summer reading challenge.

Studies show that students who spend regular time reading throughout the summer months are more like to maintain their literacy skills when they return to the classroom.

The program encourages students to spend 15 minutes per day reading and tracking their progress online.

Educators said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have fallen behind and this summer’s reading challenge is more important than it ever has been.

“We face a real urgency in central Ohio as kids continue to face disruptions to classroom learning,” said Ben Zenitsky with the Columbus Metropolitan Library. “We’re seeing some real troubling numbers across central Ohio with regard to literacy, so we need to really come together as a community to connect kids to books all summer long.”

Columbus metro libraries will hold events throughout the summer with raffles and prizes for kids. To register, click here.