An article this week in the Los Angeles Times reminded me that children's programs in our libraries help keep their skills sharp, especially during the summer when they are not in school. According to the article ("Keeping pupils' skills sharp," LAT Extra, July 7), a new study by the Rand Corporation has documented that children lose two to three months of reading and math skills while on break, and that the problem is particularly acute for lower-income children with limited access to travel, museums, libraries and other enriching experiences. Though people often think that this refers only to children in the lower grades, it in fact applies to some extent to all young students.

To help combat this problem, summer programs are sometimes held in schools and museums, often funded by grants from various foundations. Most public libraries have yearly summer programs for children, ranging in age from toddlers to teens. Costa Mesa's two full-service libraries have regularly had outstanding children's programs, funded by the Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries.\

This year's Summer Reading Program, "One World, Many Stories," is being held during the month of July. For the next two weeks, the following programs – all free to the public – will be held:

At the Mesa Verde Library

On Tuesday, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Ina Buckner Burnette will combine theater and storytelling while telling her amazing animal tales. Her participatory stories will ignite the audience's imagination and tickle their funny bone.

The Wonderful World of Songs and Stories, with storyteller and troubadour Ken Frawley is coming to Mesa Verde Library on July 19, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. As story teller, folksinger and puppeteer, Frawley combines all of his talents to present an entertaining program with enchanting characters that plunge the audience into their imagination.

A six-week session of "Switch on the Night" Pajama Story times will take place from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday from June 29 to August 3. Children aged 3 to 8 will have the opportunity to participate in and listen to songs, stories, and rhyme.

Read OC will present a Family Reading Time for families with at least one child under 5 at the Mesa Verde Library on the second Thursday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. This program is for parents as well as their children. There will be stories, crafts and a free book for each family. Call (714) 546-5274 for more information about the above programs. The Mesa Verde branch is at 2969 Mesa Verde Drive East, Costa Mesa.

At the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library

On July 14, David Skale will perform a magic show at 2 p.m. (If you missed his show at the Mesa Verde Library earlier this month, this is your chance to see it.)

Be sure to attend the Flights of Fantasy Story Theater program on July 21, when two actors, Lorrie Oshatz and Theresa Amy, will perform tales from around the globe. This program begins at 2 p.m.

Thanks to the Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries, the Dungan Library is now showing movies! Family Movie Night is held at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Community Room. Children, teens and families are welcome to attend. Free tickets are available at the Information Desk starting 30 minutes before show time.

Teen Lego Night is July 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be team and individual contests.

Toddler Story time is every Monday at 11 am. Join the group for songs, stories, and snacks. Babies, toddlers, children and their families are invited to attend.

Family Story time is every Tuesday at 2 pm with stories, songs, crafts and snacks to enjoy. Children and their families are welcome to attend this program.

Don't let the kids have all the fun this summer. Participate in the Adult Summer Reading Program! Read a book (or audio book) and place your entry form into the weekly raffle box to get a chance to win a prize. The contest runs through July 31. Call (949) 646-8845 for information on Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library events. The Dungan branch is at 1855 Park Ave., Costa Mesa.

While you are at either library with your children, stop by its Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries book store. Both stores have a large stock of books for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Priced at $1 or less, they can bring a summer's full of reading without breaking the bank.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa Libraries.