ST. JOSEPH — The St. Joseph library is ready to make one giant leap for reading kind with “A Universe of Stories,” its summer program for kids and adults. 

“We have such a great line-up this year,” said Stephanie Masin, director of the Maud Preston Palenske Library, with everything from space-themed activities (coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing) to a Michigan mime who trained with the great Marcel Marceau, to local history and a project to beautify a library garden.

The program kicks off with a party for teens (7th-12th grade) and tweens (4th-6th grade) from 3-6 p.m. Monday at the library at 501 Market St. Participants can register to become eligible for prizes, and enjoy games, food and door prizes.

Reading prizes include passes to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Village, Saugatuck Dune Rides, the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, and the Curious Kids Museum and Silver Beach Carousel, and gift cards for Kilwin’s, Dairy Queen, Silver Beach Pizza and other local merchants.

“We try very hard to keep it fun and entertaining,” said Amy Nolan, children’s librarian. “There is a great energy down here, all the time, but especially in the summer.”

More than 200 kids had already signed up by this week, and officials expect 600 will participate, Nolan said.

Summer reading has a serious purpose for kids, as well, Masin noted. Many studies have shown that students who continue reading through the summer do better when they return to school in the fall, she said.

One of the expected highlights of the summer will be a performance by Grand Rapids mime Rob Reider at 1 p.m. June 18.

Masin admitted that she was a bit dubious when the suggestion was first made. “I thought, ‘Really, a mime?’”

But Nolan had seen Reider at a performance showcase and was blown away by his expertise and humor, and insisted that the library book the man who trained with Marceau, the great French mime.

Another family program that’s sure to be popular is a Harry Potter birthday party from 3-7 p.m. July 31, with Hogwarts-themed decorations and activities, including Hagrid’s birthday cake.

The Sarett Nature Center will present a program on “The Survival of the Fittest” at 2 p.m. June 25. “Our Universe Rocks,” a live space-themed rock and roll show, lands here 2 p.m. July 9. And the Roz Puppets will perform “The Boy Who Saw Martians” at 6:30 p.m. July 18.

Story times and garden games for toddlers and preschoolers will be held Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. starting June 19 and Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. beginning June 18.

Activities for tweens include Glow in the Dark Games at 2 p.m. June 19 and the highly popular Nerf Blast games at 4 p.m. July 10 in the library garden. Masin described it as like paintball with Nerf toys, that attracted around 150 kids last summer. The games will be held weather permitting.

Teens can take part in “Glow On, Moon” from 2-3:30 p.m. June 26, creating glow-in-the-dark art and apparel. Teens who complete the summer program can attend an “Escape the Library” lock-in party starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 3.

Ann St. Amand, with Phycotech, will be assisting in turning a sunken garden outside the children’s section into the library’s “secret garden.” Patrons can dig in at 10:30 a.m. June 27 and 6:30 p.m. July 2.

For the big kids 

The grown-ups aren’t being left out, and can attend programs and register to win prizes.

For every book read, adults will receive a prize entry ticket and can write the prize package number, to be submitted to the circulation desk. Packages include dinner and dessert; family fun; gearheads gear; sunrise special; relax and renew; and Get to Know St. Joe.

Patrons can get to know St. Joe and the region during lecture programs at 6 p.m. “Hunting for Michigan’s Mail Order Homes” will discuss Sears kit homes on June 24. Participants can learn about invasive plan species on June 12.

A program on “Michigan Mysteries,” focusing on planes, ships and people who have disappeared, will be held at the Benton Harbor library on Wall Street on July 10. The history of House of David baseball will be batted around by player, library board member and retired Herald-Palladium reporter Rick Ast on July 17.

A program on World War II and Fred Bahlau, a 101st Airborne paratrooper who jumped at Normandy on D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and liberated a concentration camp, will be presented by historian Larry Martin on July 25.

The programs are supported by the Friends of the Library and many sponsors, Masin said.

Information is at www.youseemore.com/maudpreston or 983-7167.

Contact: jmatuszak@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak