Adult Programming Librarian Julie Howard is excited about the latest virtual event hosted by the library. By MADDY VITALEThe Ocean City Free Public Library is calling on children, teens, and adults to participate in a virtual “Reading Challenge,” that will not only hone their skills, but also garner them prizes.The library will be using the Beanstack website to host the exciting new remote year-round event.And it all began Monday, with the summer reading contest that runs through Aug. 23. Signing up is free and anyone can participate.Since the library closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff has offered an array of virtual events, programming, and books to access online.Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the restriction on curbside pickup, which will begin on June 22. Questions may be emailed to [email protected] Director Karen Mahar called the Reading Challenge a fantastic, new program.“It will be awesome for all of the participants,” she said. “We are very excited about it.”The library is partnering with the Ocean City School District. Mahar noted that Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor and school staff members are very supportive of the program.“We want to help with the summer school in any way we can using Beanstack,” she said.To participate in the challenge, readers must create an account on Beanstack. A family can create one account with multiple family members listed on that account. Once a reader or readers are registered, the fun can begin.Readers can keep track of the books they read, the minutes they read, and the activities they complete.Along the way, they will earn points and be eligible to win prizes! They can also write book reviews which can be shared with other readers.Adult Programing Librarian Julie Howard, who was instrumental in the creation of the virtual event, said that there is a big goal in mind — reading 1 million minutes as a community by the end of the summer.“It’s something brand new for our library and something we’re really excited about. We know how important it is to keep the community connected,” Howard pointed out. “Even though the library building is currently closed, we want our community members to know that the library is still here for them.”Howard continued, “We offer digital resources and materials, virtual programs, and now, for the very first time, a completely virtual summer reading program. Our goal is to bring people together through a shared love of reading.”Readers are also encouraged to download the Beanstack mobile app. It comes with a timer for the reading sessions, and the app makes it capable to scan the barcode of the book a child, teen or adult is reading to add the book to their log.Children’s Librarian Taimi Kelley says that even though the library staff can’t read to the kids amid the pandemic just yet, the summer reading program should bring joy to families.Children’s Librarian Taimi Kelley said of the program, “We are excited to use Beanstack as our summer reading platform this year. In addition to keeping track of children’s reading, we have added various badges that they can earn, which will hopefully further engage young readers and make summer reading fun.”Adults, teens, and children will be able to receive a bit of an incentive for summer reading, with ways to earn points and win prizes by logging their reading and activities.The teen and adult reading challenges have similar point systems, but different prizes from the children’s contests.For the Children’s Summer Reading Challenge, kids get to log their reading and activities to earn points and win prizes as follows:For every activity you complete, you earn 10 points.For every 60 minutes you read, you earn 60 points and 3 Castaway Cove ride tickets.Playland’s Castaway Cove ride tickets will be awarded until Aug. 23 or until they run out, whichever occurs first.For every 100 points you earn, you receive 1 virtual ticket to use towards any of the weekly prize drawings.All participants have the chance to win mystery prizes if they earn 500 points and 1500 points.For more information about the Reading Challenge visit: https://www.oceancitylibrary.org/reading-challenge.