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Reading every night before bedtime has been a tradition in our family since my children were born. Every evening my children pick two books for mom and dad to read to them while we snuggle up together in bed. However, in the summer, I like to up the ante and encourage my children participate in one or more Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids. Some programs are local, while others are nationwide.
Did you know that on average students lose 2 months of reading skills over the summer? So to combat this trend, there are several Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids that you can sign your children up for right now. In addition to this list of 2021 free summer reading programs, many local libraries also host summer reading programs for kids. I encourage you to stop by and sign your children up. In the past, my children have won prizes to such places as BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com.
2021 Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids
Your Public Library
Make this your first stop for summer reading. Most public libraries will be kicking their summer reading program in early June. They will often have the chance to get free books or prizes–even with the strange times in which we live. Hopefully, your local library will be open for storytime and other activities.
Pizza Hut’s Book It Summer Reading Challenge
With the Pizza Hut Summer Reading Challenge, children can beat the “summer slide” by downloading and printing Pizza Hut’s summer activities that keep kids reading throughout the summer months. Parents and teachers can choose from book lists to book reviews to story starters. Pizza Hut also partnered with Candlewick Press to bring children a great list of summer reading activities. Don’t forget to also sign up for Pizza Hut’s Book It Homeschooling Program too.
New York Times Summer Reading Contest
The 11th annual New York Times Summer Reading contest is for students ages 13-19. Students are able to tell the NYTimes why they loved or disliked a particular piece and each week they publish the best comments. The NYTimes.com has a digital subscription system in which gives readers free access to 20 articles each month. The contest runs from June 11 – August 19, 2021.
The Scholastic Summer Reading is a free program designed to be both educational and fun to help prevent the effects of the summer slide—the learning losses that can occur during the summer months. Over the course of 18 weeks, kids can enter their summer reading minutes online, unlocking digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges; and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content.
Children create an account (per their parent’s permission) on Scholastic’s website and log their reading times into the system. Prizes are awarded throughout the course of the program and kids get a chance to beat the world record. The program runs from April 26 through September 3, 2021.
Parents can download and print a Barnes and Noble Reading Journal for their children. Children read eight books and record the titles in their journal. Once they’ve read eight book, they take journal their journal to a local Barnes and Noble store to get a free book. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Here you can download the Barnes and Noble 2021 Reading Journal.
Chuck E. Cheese ‘s Reading Rewards Calendar
Chuck E. Cheese ‘s Reading Rewards Calendar is a program where kids can earn 10 free Chuck E. Cheese tokens for reading each day for 2 weeks. Parents need to download the printable rewards calendar and take it in person to their nearest Chuck E. Cheese for redemption.
Enrich the long summer days away from school with Dr. Seuss. They have fun, creative crafts, recipes and activities on the website that will encourage kids to think and engage their wild imaginations. Have an Imagination Seuss-a-bration all summer long!
Camp Wonderopolis is a free online summer-learning destination that’s full of fun, interactive STEM and literacy-building topics boosted by Maker experiments! Keeping kids and their families learning together throughout the summer and out-of-school time, Camp Wonderopolis can help build vocabulary, background knowledge in science, reading comprehension, critical thinking, and other literacy skills along the way. When you register as a Camper (kids of all ages) or Counselor (parents, community and library program staff, teachers), you’ll enjoy free learning through wonder.
Professional Sports Teams
Many professional sports teams sponsor summer reading programs, including the Portland Trailblazers and the Tampa Bay Rays. Check with your local team to see if they offer a similar program.
PBS KIDS Summer Adventure Program
The PBS KIDS Summer Adventure program, for children ages 4 – 8 years old, is a collection of multi-media activities from kids’ favorite PBS KIDS shows and characters. Each day children participate in a series of hands-on, technology-based activities to practice and learn math skills as they complete a new adventure. These activity plans deepen children’s understanding of specific math content using a unique combination of online games, video segments, mobile content, and hands-on learning from programs kids know and love. Activities run 60-90 minutes long to allow for flexible scheduling and provide group and camp leaders with guidance and tips on using a multi-media approach to learning. Yes, it is math, but kids need to work on their numbers over the summer too!
Education.com Summer Reading Program
Escape into the wonderful world of books with these summer reading worksheets. From fantastical dragons and amazing animals to wet ‘n’ wild fun, these summer printables offer endless ideas for incorporating reading into your child’s break from school. Print off a checklist, and get started on these awesome summer activities to create some fun in the sun.
Positively influence your children’s reading behaviors over the summer by activating and incentivizing their motivation to read using tools that allow them to list, track and share progress.
Keep connected with all things Junie B.! Sign up for their newletter and they will send you monthly updates about new books, fun printables like holiday cards, Junie B. games and activities, special events, sweepstakes, and more.
For the H‑E‑Buddy Summer Reading Club all you have to do is read ten books and record them on a downloadable reading log. Each time you log a book, an adult needs to initial by the title so you get credit for reading. Once the log is complete, mail the form to an address provided online, and you’ll be rewarded with a special t‑shirt. You have until October 1 to get in ten good reads.
SYNC Summer Reading Program for Teens
SYNC is a free 14 week summer reading program for teens ages 13+. Teens are able to download 2 free audio books each week throughout the summer. Each week there will be a current young adult book as well as a classic title that teens will be able to download for free through Sora, the student reading app from OverDrive.
AudioFile’s Audiobooks for Kids and Teens
Whether you’re listening as a family, “On-the-Go,” or for quiet time, AudioFileMagazine.com has a terrific curated list for kids and teens that gives you dozens of awesome choices. Explore other times and places, family and community themes, fantastic worlds, and familiar classics. Audiobooks for Kids and Teens has something for everyone.
Books-A-Million Kids Summer Reading Program
There’s something for every reader at BAM this summer. Kids can get a free Dog Man baseball cap with the Books-A-Million summer reading program. The kids must read four of the 75+ qualified books. Then they fill out a journal to show their progress and return it to any Books-A-Million store.
Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain
Read for at least 15 minutes each day. Download their free reading log to record your minutes. Once you’ve read 300 minutes, you can turn your completed log into your local HPB store and earn $5 Half-Price Books Bucks. You can also find tips and printable book lists.
KCEdventures Genre Challenge for Summer Reading
Challenge your kids to explore new areas of the library. KCEdventures has created a bingo-style printable that covers 15 different genres. Try to read at least one book from each and record them on the sheet.
If you’re looking for even more fun activities for your kids to do this summer, check out our 30 Summer STEAM Activities Challenge, Family Summer Bingo Game and 25 Easy Summer Crafts For Kids.
Happy Summer Reading!
Thursday 10th of June 2021
Thank you for this list! I went to the Barnes and Noble website and can't find a summer reading program anywhere. The link goes to their summer reading page which just has book suggestions. Help?
Tuesday 15th of June 2021
Try this link. https://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/pdf/2021/BN_Summer_Reading_21_Journal_English.pdf
75+ Splash Pads in Southern California - SoCal Field Trips
Friday 7th of June 2019
[…] 14 Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids […]
Sunday 9th of July 2017
Need free summer reading programs for zip codes 90221, 90008, 90230, and 90049.
Sunday 9th of July 2017
I recommend that you check w/ your local library.
101 Things to do with Kids in Orange County
Monday 12th of June 2017
[…] Fun 12. Local Library Programs 13. Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids 14. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program 15. Pottery Barn Book Club (Costa Mesa & Mission […]
Monday 12th of June 2017
Thanks for including our list Jill!
Sarah Harris | makesmewander.com
Monday 5th of June 2017
I ❤️ Summer reading programs (and often love reading the books with them!)!!