Summer reading programs have proven to be helpful in reducing “summer slide” or learning loss. Fortunately, FREE summer reading programs are readily available from public libraries, bookstores and retailers across the country. Start with your local public library and independent bookstores. Then check out these reading programs for summer 2012. None will cost you a dime and most offer prizes for kids who complete the programs.
- PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge. Sign up for a six-week program and receive a daily email with reading activities, challenges, book suggestions and chance to win prizes.
- BookIt Summer Break Challenge. The familiar school-year reading program from Pizza Hut has a summer counterpart. Kids who were in grades K-6 last year read five books this summer to be eligible to enter a sweepstakes for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid prize package. The prize package includes a tote bag, two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, a “Greg” plush doll and a $20 Visa Gift Card. Entries must be received by August 15, 2012.
- Barnes & Noble Summer Reading. Kids read any eight books and record them in their reading journals. Bring the completed form to a local Barnes and Noble and get a free book.
- DOD Summer Reading Program. Children of military families can participate in the Department of Defense summer reading program at bases and military installations worldwide. The theme for 2012 is “Reading Is So Delicious.” Activities will vary depending on location.
- Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge. For children under 10 years of age. Download an Early Reader or Award-Winning reading list at the Pottery Barn Kids website or pick one up at the store. When your child reads all of the books on the list, bring the completed list to a Pottery Barn store before August 31, 2012 and redeem it for a free book.
- H.E.B Supermarkets H.E. Buddy 2012 Summer Reading Club. Kids will get a free HEB Buddy T-shirt from this Texas supermarket chain when they read 10 books and mail in a completed reading form postmarked by October 1, 2012.
- National Amusements Bookworm Wednesdays. Kids get free admission to a select children’s film on Wednesdays at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex when children bring in a book report. (Parents of participants get free admission too.) Children under 6 years old can get in free without a book report. National Amusements has theaters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
- Scholastic “Read for the Record” Summer Challenge. Kids log their reading minutes each day which are then added to their school’s cumulative minutes. The top 20 schools will receive recognition in the 2012 Scholastic Book of World Records. When kids log their weekly allotment, they get to spin the “prize wheel.”
- Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards. Print the Reading Rewards Calendar so kids can record their reading every day for two weeks. Redeem the completed calendar at Chuck E. Cheese for 10 free tokens. A food purchase is required.
- Book Adventure by Sylvan Learning. Kids in grades K-8 can earn prizes by reading books and then taking quizzes to accumulate points. One of the nicer features of this site is the Book Finder, because it offers suggestions for books based on grade level, level of difficulty, and interest. You still have to find the books. Alternatively, you can look up a book your child has already chosen to see if there is a quiz available for it. There are almost 8,000 books in the database.
More free reading resources
These aren’t reading programs, but they are great free reading resources for kids:
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Parents of children under the age of five who live in eligible zip codes can sign up to receive a free, high-quality book each month.
- Free Sesame Street eBooks. Bright, colorful online versions of books featuring kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters.
- Barnes and Noble Free Online Storytime. A great selection of entertaining children’s books read by authors and celebrities. Barnes and Noble also has a kids’ club that offers discounts and rewards.
- Storyline Online. Members of the Screen Actors Guild read popular children’s books.
- FREE Scholastic Reading Timer App. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android devices, the app features an interactive reading stopwatch to time reading minutes and a personal profile for each child that shows total minutes he or she has read. Book lists for kids ages 3-12 with suggestions for different kinds of readers are also included.