Summer Reading Programs Kids Can Be Involved In For Free!

Summer reading programs are a great way for kids to stay motivated to read in the summer, and to provide some structure for you to make sure it happens. Here are some of the free programs I suggest.

summer reading programs
Each summer I'm always trying to find things to do to keep my children occupied, and engaged.

I don't want them to watch too much TV, or play too many video games, and I can only come up with so many chores for them to do. Plus, they also do several athletic activities, so they need some calm, peaceful activities to let them rest a bit too.

That is one of the reasons I love to encourage my children to read each summer. Plus, it is good for their academic growth, to keep them progressing forward even while school is not in session.

I find, however, that just telling them to read isn't enough, at least until they've gotten the reading habit instilled into them, and they love reading on their own. When they are still learning to read, and it takes a lot of concentration to read and comprehend a book a little extra motivation is helpful. That is what first attracted me to summer reading programs.

Plus, even after older children love to read, and you don't have to encourage them too much to do it, the programs are still something fun to participate in during the summer months.

The best programs out there, in my opinion, are free. So here are my suggestions:

Your Local Library Will Generally Have Some Free Summer Reading Programs

local library
Every year, right after school lets out we take a trip down to the library. Actually, for us, this is just our typical weekly trip to the library, but the kids always look forward to this one because they know they can sign up for the library's reading program.

Each of these programs is locally run, so they aren't all the same. Typically, however, each child can sign up (even children who cannot read themselves and are instead read to) and they set a goal for how much they want to read during the summer. Sometimes it is certain number of books, or sometimes it is a certain time period, like 20 hours of reading for example.

I personally like the time period goals better because younger kid's books are shorter, and they typically take less time. A goal of 20 books each will take longer for an older child, at a more difficult reading level than a younger child. Measuring by time levels the playing field, so each child can decide to read for 30 minutes a day, for example, and still get the same prizes at the end. Typically these programs also have some sponsors which provide small prizes too, for meeting the goal your child sets.

In our home I like to encourage at least 30 minutes of reading per day. In addition, now that some of the older ones can read to my youngest, I try to encourage it, since they can fill out time for themselves and for her too, since she was read to. (She likes to participate in the summer reading programs not only to listen to the stories, but also to get the ice cream cone given as a prize at our local library.)

Typically, you need to sign up for these programs close to the beginning of summer, so now is the time to find out about what is available in your area, before the sign ups end.

Free Reading Program From BookAdventure.Com

I actually just discovered this free program from, which I've signed my older children up for. I actually heard about it from my son's teacher, who suggested it for summer use, to help with his reading comprehension.

This program, sponsored by Sylvan Learning, is designed for children from K-8, and has quizzes for over 7,000 books. A child reads a book and then can take a multiple choice test on it, to test how well they understood the material. There are books for many different reading levels, and it also has a book finder section, which allows you to say what reading level and interests your child has, and it suggests books that will fit these criteria.

We used this book finder and got some great suggestions of material, wrote down what we were interested in, and took that list to the library with us. Therefore, in addition to being one of the great free summer reading programs I've found, I'm now also suggesting this book finder as another way to find books in your child's reading level, similar to the AR Reading List I've been using before for this purpose.

An added bonus for this free program is that after your child has accumulated a certain number of points, for getting quiz questions correct, your child can get prizes. These prizes are not the greatest, but they serve as a great incentive. My son was very excited to take his first quiz this morning, and I hope it continues.

This program is not really just for the summer, but can be done all year long, which is something I like about it. In addition, you can sign up at any time.

Barnes And Noble Summer Reading Program

Finally, I also recommend the summer reading programs at Barnes and Noble. To participate in this one your child fills out a reading journal supplied by the bookstore (here is a link to the PDF for 2011), telling what 8 books they've read and one sentence explaining why they recommend it. Then, just turn in the completed journal to your local store and your child can get a free book from the list (the PDF also lists which books are available this year).

During 2011 this program goes from May 24 - September 6th. We are trying to finish our journals soon though, so we can get the best choice of free books available for our prizes.

No matter what summer reading programs you choose, encouraging your children to read, and to continue on with this during the summer, can only help them throughout their life. Plus, participating in these programs can be fun and provide some structure and positive activities to keep them busy during the summer months.

If you know of more programs which are free I would love to learn about them! Please contact me to tell me about these programs, putting "Summer Reading Programs" in the title, and I'll investigate them and add them to this list if they are good.

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