We’re excited about this new list of FREE summer reading programs for 2013. We’ve found several new programs and reading resources that will keep your kids reading all summer long.
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 2013. None will cost you a dime and most offer prizes for kids who complete the programs. Be sure to check out other free reading resources at the bottom of this article, too.
- TD Bank Summer Reading Program. Kids read 10 books this summer and write the titles on TD Bank’s summer reading form to receive $10 in a new or existing Young Saver account. There’s also a printable Savings Activity Chart (pretty cool) and the WowZone — a financial education site for kids, parents and teachers to encourage financial literacy.
- Give Me Summer! Give Me Books! is a national summer reading program for kids at many independent bookstores. Probably the best way to find one near you is to check the American Booksellers Association member directory, and then call the nearest member bookstore to see if it is participating in the reading program. Prizes and program requirements vary depending on the location and may require a purchase.
- PBS Kids DIY Summer Reading Camp. Working in conjunction with Education.com, PBS Kids has 10 weeks of hands-on activities and learning resources that coincide with its popular children’s programming (including Arthur, WordGirl and Martha Speaks) from June 3 through Aug. 9.
- Education.com “We’ll Read 10 Pledge.” Parents who commit to helping their kids (preschool through grade 5) read 10 books this summer can be entered to win a Kindle Prize Pack. This requires signing up for a free membership at Education.com.
- Scholastic “Read for the World Record” Summer Challenge. Kids log their reading minutes each day to earn rewards and help set a new 2013 world record for summer reading. Virtual prizes keep them motivated, and kids can send their parents an e-vite to download a free Storia® e-book, as well as enter sweepstakes to win one of several reading-related prizes. Teachers can register their classrooms through June 30 for students to be able log minutes toward the school’s total. The top 20 schools will receive recognition in the 2014 Scholastic Book of World Records, and the top school will get a visit from Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey.
- 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 2013 is “Have Book – Will Travel.” Activities vary depending on location.
- iVillage/Sprout Summer Reading Community Challenge. During the free four-week program from June 17 to July 12, 2013, you get daily emails with literacy-building tips, games, printables, crafts and a chance to win prizes.
- 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, which offers suggestions for books based on grade level, level of difficulty and interest. You still have to find the books at your library or bookstore. Alternatively, you can look up a book your child has already chosen to see if there is a quiz available for it. Almost 8,000 books are in the database.
- Barnes & Noble Summer Reading. Kids read any eight books and record them in their reading journals. Bring the completed journal to a local Barnes & Noble between May 21 and Sept. 3, 2013, to choose a free book from the book list featured on the back of the journal.
- Books-A-Million Summer Reading Program. Children who participate in the Carl Hiaasen Summer Reading Program at Books-A-Million and read six featured books between May 19 and August 17, 2013, will receive a free exclusive Carl Hiaasen CHOMP or HOOT backpack (while supplies last). Parents will need to sign the completed form and return it to their local BAM location to get the prize.
- Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program. During June and July, kids 14 and younger must read 15 minutes each day and track their time on the reading log (available for download on the HPB website). Parents can read to younger kids. When kids have logged 300 minutes in a month, bring the completed reading log between July 7 and Aug. 11, 2013, to the store to get the reward of $5 Bookworm Bucks. Each month, a “Top Reader” per age group, per store, will receive a $20 HPB gift card.
- Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesdays. Kids bring a book report entry form and get free admission to a select children’s film at 10 a.m. Wednesdays from July 10 to Aug. 7, 2013. Showcase Cinemas has theaters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.
- Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge. Families are invited to attend the weekly story time at Pottery Barn stores (check with your local store for the schedule). Kids can complete a summer reading list by Aug. 26, 2013, to receive a prize.
- Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards. Print the Reading Rewards Calendar and have kids record their reading every day for two weeks. Redeem the completed calendar at participating Chuck E. Cheese locations for 10 free tokens. A food purchase is required. The current Reading Rewards calendar expires December 31, 2013.
- American Girl Read-a-palooza. Fans of the American Girl book series can take online quizzes and download free printable activity sheets from May 1 to Aug. 26, 2013. Free Read-a-palooza events will also be held in American Girl stores throughout the summer.
- Junie B. Kids Reading Club from Random House. Parents sign up for the Junie B. Jones newsletter and submit their address to receive a free Junie B. Kids Club starter kit (while supplies last). The kit contains a free copy of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, exclusive activity pages and a membership ID card. RH promises parents who sign up seasonal email updates about new books, games and activities, special events, and more.
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 5 and younger who live in eligible ZIP codes can sign up to receive a free, high-quality book each month.
- Free Sesame Street e-books. Bright, colorful online versions of books featuring kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters.
- Barnes & Noble Free Online Storytime. A great selection of entertaining children’s books read by authors and celebrities. Barnes & 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.
- American Library Association Teen Book Finder App. Free from iTunes.
- Scholastic Book Wizard. This is a great online tool to help parents find new titles for their kids to read. Enter the title of a book your child or teen loves and find other books similar to it. You can also search for books according to grade level, Lexile score or Developmental Reading Assessment. It’s the next-best thing to a librarian.
- Free printable summer reading lists are offered by grade level from the American Library Association. A separate set of lists, Summertime Favorites, features books having “lasting value.” Since many of the books on the Summertime Favorites lists are classics, some might be out of copyright and available for free at Amazon.
Not free, but worth mentioning
There is a long list of cities and universities across the United States that participate in ReadingPrograms.org’s summer reading programs for children and adults. These programs involve classroom instruction tailored to different age groups/grade levels, and may not be free; however, some discounts may be available. Search for your local participating institution to get more information.