We’re excited about this big list of FREE summer reading programs for kids. We’ve found several reading programs and reading resources that will help you 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 this summer. 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.
- 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 during the redemption period to choose a free book from the book list featured on the back of the journal.
- Pizza Hut’s Book-It. Book-It is a summer reading challenge that incorporates reading with activities, games, and a chance to win prizes.
- 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 who read 8 books from the recommended book list by July 31 will receive a free book.
- 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 at the end of the year.
- PBS Kids DIY Summer Reading Camp. Working in conjunction with Education.com, PBS Kids has 10 weeks of hands-on activities and learning resources, along with additional printable activity sheets for kindergarten through 5th grade.
- Scholastic “Read for the World Record” Summer Challenge. Kids log their reading minutes each day to earn virtual rewards and try to set a new 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.
- 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 changes each year, and activities vary depending on location.
- 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.
- Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program. During June and July, kids 14 and younger 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 to the store by the due date to receive Bookworm Bucks (store credit). 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 in July and August. Showcase Cinemas has theaters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.
- American Girl Read-a-palooza. Fans of the American Girl book series can take online quizzes and download free printable activity sheets. Free Read-a-palooza events will also be held in American Girl stores throughout the summer.
- 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.
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. This free app from iTunes lets you find YA literature from the past three years of the Young Adult Library Association’s awards and lists. An Android app is planned for later in 2014.
- 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.
Scholastic is also offering one free reading resource every day in June.
— Scholastic (@Scholastic) May 20, 2014
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.