Digging into a great book under a sun umbrella, preferably poolside, is one of the joys of summer. And the benefits of reading still hold true even when school isn’t in session. Thankfully, a number of summer reading programs help keep the learning going over the summer months, and kids can earn free goodies along the way! Here are our picks for the best summer reading programs for kids.
1. Barnes & Noble
Every summer, Barnes & Noble curates an excellent list of 100+ books that make for fun (and secretly educational) summer reads for kids of all ages. Kids can earn a free book after they read eight books and log them on the downloadable reading journal. The Barnes and Noble kids’ summer reading program is only available to students in grades 1–6. Only one book is available for each child who completes a reading journal, and the choice must be made from the selected books available at the store. Download the B&N 2023 Summer Reading Journal today!
Learn more: Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program
2. Reading Is Fundamental
Soar into summer with Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit. First take the summer reading pledge. Then join RIF on a series of summer reading field trips. You’ll find recommended books plus accompanying activities and videos, as well as a printable reading log, printable scrapbooks, postcards, and more.
Learn more: RIF Summer Reading
3. Half Price Books
The Half Price Books Summer Reading Camp for kids hosts gift card giveaways on social media for kids who read for at least 300 minutes during the months of June and July. The program website also features printable coloring sheets, online story times, and mystery book recommendations for ages ranging from preschool to teens.
Learn more: Half Price Books Summer Reading Camp
4. Public Libraries
Check your local library for more free kids’ summer reading programs with activities and incentives for all ages. Most libraries also have story times and other reading-themed activities.
Learn more: Collaborative Summer Library Program
5. Junie B. Kids Club
With over 60 million books sold, the bestselling Junie B. Jones series is a classroom favorite that has been keeping kids laughing and reading for over 20 years. Sign up for the Junie B. Jones Reading Club and your kid will stay connected with all things Junie B.! Expect monthly updates about fun new activities, events, sweepstakes, and more.
Learn more: Junie B. Kids Club
6. Professional Sports Teams
Many professional sports teams sponsor summer reading programs, including the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Fire FC. Check with your local team to see if they offer a reading program.
Scholastic has a an online summer reading program that challenges kids to go online and record the minutes they read. This year, kids can build an avatar, make new friends, earn virtual rewards, and help unlock donations for kids with limited or no access to books. All you need to do is sign up and keep a “reading streak” in Scholastic Home Base over the summer.
Learn more: Scholastic Read-a-Palooza
Sync has a summer reading program just for teens that will give them two free audiobooks each week this summer. Perfect for both on-the-go and on-the-couch reading. Each week they offer a current YA book as well as a classic title that teens will be able to download for free through the Sora/OverDrive app.
Learn more: Sync Summer Audiobook Program for Teens
9. Camp BOOK IT! With Pizza Hut
Join BOOK IT! summer camp to encourage reading all summer long. Track kids’ reading for the summer months in their digital dashboard. If they meet their monthly reading goal, kids receive a free Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut!
Learn more: Camp BOOK IT!
10. Showcase Cinemas
Read a book and earn a ticket for a free summer flick! Kids can earn free admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Showcase Cinemas box office.
Learn more: Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesdays
11. Start your own book club
Reading is more fun with friends, so why not start your very own book club? Gather 8 to 10 friends from school, summer camp, or neighbors that are all around the same reading level as your child, pick a theme, and start your reading engines! Chicago Parent magazine offers some great tips for starting your own summer reading club.