10 Summer Reading Programs for Free Stuff

10 Summer Reading Programs for Free Stuff

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If you’re looking for a way to keep your kid’s brain active during break, summer reading is a great way to help avoid the “summer slide.” (You know, that thing where kids can forget all the stuff they learned from the year before just by doing nothing in the summer?)

If your kids aren’t up for reading in summer, don’t despair! My daughter just started to get into reading about a couple of years ago (at around age 8).

I was an avid child reader (and now a writer), so I have a hard time not pushing my interests onto her during homeschooling, especially reading.

I mean, it’s reading. Is there anything better?

Apparently for her, there are a lot of better things.

(Cue wah-wah-wah sad trombone music.)

When I first found out that she wasn’t interested in reading, our conversation went something like this:

“What do you mean you don’t really like reading?”


“I just . . . don’t . . .”

And then my head exploded in confusion.


It didn’t happen exactly like that, but you get the picture.

I think what finally worked and helped her love of reading (and helped her have an interest in summer reading) was the transition book.

My kid really enjoys art and creating, so introducing her to formats like comic chapter books and graphic novels (like this and this) helped pique her interest.

After that, she started naturally choosing longer (and thicker!) chapter books.

(She’s also really into this series by Thornton W. Burgess. It was originally published in the early 1900s and I never would’ve picked for her, but hey, if it works!)

Because of her lack of interest in, she’s never participated in reading contests or programs. So, her mind was totally blown when we were in Barnes and Noble one summer and an employee handed her a form.

“Wait. I can get free stuff . ..  just for reading . . . stuff that I pick out?”

And, she was hooked on reading in the summer.

After that, I noticed that it wasn’t just the bookstores who had summer reading programs, there were many other places that have programs and offers, too!

I started to see them pop up in unique places (like from the company that provides our online Bible course).

So, I decided to put together a list of summer reading programs.

Maybe it will help you and your (non) readers, too!

10 Summer Reading Programs for Free Stuff

[updated for 2018]

10 Summer Reading Programs for Kids

(Most of the programs have late August or early September due dates.)

Summer Reading Program #1: Your Local Library

The reading program that is most popular is probably the one from your local library. They often give away prizes for time spent reading or for number of books read.

To find libraries in your state, check out PublicLibraries.com.

Summer Reading Program #2: Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has a summer reading program for grades 1-6 that allows your child to pick a free book from a predetermined list of books once they have completed the program. You can visit the store or print the Reading Journal from home.

Usually starts mid-May and ends in September.

Summer Reading Program #3: Scholastic

Scholastic.com has a summer reading challenge where kids can log their minutes reading online, unlock badges and rewards.

The theme of the Scholastic summer reading program changes each year.

From Scholastic:

“The 2018 theme is “A Magical Summer of Reading,” which comes to life on the website with the beautiful Harry Potter illustrations by Jim Kay. We think it’s the perfect message to encourage students across the country to share in the magic of summer reading in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Usually starts in early May and ends in September.


Summer Reading Program #4: Half Priced Books

Half Priced Books has their “Feed Your Brain” Summer Reading Program where they encourage kids to read 15 minutes each day in the summer.

Kids log their reading time and can trade in their log for “bookworm bucks” to use toward the purchase of items in the store.

You can download the log from home or pick it up in the store.

Once your kids log 300 minutes, take it in to claim their “bookworm bucks.”

Hours can be logged in June and July and bookworm bucks can be redeemed through the end of August.

Summer Reading Program #5: Veritas Press

Veritas Press has a summer reading contest categorized by grade level, with a specific number (and type) of book that must be read for each grade level.

They have a special form that you can download and print to track the books read.

If you are in the first 250 to complete the readings (and submit them online), you will receive a $10 gift certificate.

All submissions will be entered into a prize drawing for $150,  $100, and $70.

Starts at the beginning of May and ends mid-September

Summer Reading Program #6: Chuck E. Cheese Rewards

Chuck E. Cheese has a rewards program where you can download a calendar and mark off the days your child completes the item (like chores and reading).

You can then redeem the calendar at a local Chuck E. Cheese for 10 free game tokens.

Reading Reward Calendar

All Calendars

Runs all year to the end of the year, but each year the calendar’s change with the new expiration date. So, be sure to print a new calendar (and not just use a copy from the previous year).

Summer Reading Program #7: Books-a-Million BookIt!

The Books a Million Summer Reading Challenge involves reading four books from their summer reading challenge list.

Then, you receive a free Maze Runner series water bottle.

You can download the reading journal online.

I’m not finding anything on the BAM website that indicates this program is still active. I will update if I find out more. (If you know, will you update us in the comments?)

BookIt! is a year-long reading program for kids in Kindergarten through Grade 6.

Kids read books in exchange for a certificate for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

It is a school program (so if you’re in traditional school, your teacher may have signed up your child’s class), but they all have a homeschool program.

The program runs on a traditional yearly school schedule.

Summer Reading Program #8: SYNC

Sync is a summer “reading” program that provides free audiobooks for teens ages 13 and up.

The program provides two new audiobooks each week for download.

It’s not reading, but it’s still learning, right?

Runs from end of April through end of July.

Summer Reading Program #9: Showcase Cinemas

If  you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, then you may be familiar with Showcase Cinemas.

Participating locations offer Bookworm Wednesdays, where kids get free admission to a children’s movie when they present a book report to the box office.

The website just lists summer 2018 as the valid dates.

Summer Reading Program #10: Local Businesses

Search online for “summer reading [your city or state]” because many local or state-specific businesses and restaurants host summer reading programs.

(Be sure to also check Facebook and social media!)

Did we miss a program? Leave it in the comments so we can check it out!






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