Ultimate summer reading programs for kids guide and updated 2023 summer challenge for reading rewards and free book programs! A summer kids reading challenge are great additions for kids summer fun and great programs to encourage and help kids read for free prizes. Check out these children’s summer book list ideas for freebies, incentives and fun reading activities at home, including best online reading program for struggling readers!
FREE Summer Reading Challenges, Reading Rewards Programs, and Contests for Kids
These are great at home summer reading program ideas to help your kids read books all summer! (What’s better than free stuff reading!)
Reading Rewards Programs 2023
Free summer reading programs for kids that have prizes for reading:
- Your Local Library
- Sonlight Free Summer Reading Challenge
- Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge
- Scholastic Summer Challenge
- Half Price Books Summer Reading
- Veritas Press
- Chuck E Cheese Summer Reading
- Professional Sports Teams Reading Challenges
- Local Business Reading Rewards
See the full summer reading rewards programs and summer reading program prizes links below. KEEP SCROLLING for elementary reading rewards and even summer reading programs for middle school students through high school! ~~FREE summer reading chart printable below!~~
If you’re looking for a way to keep your kid’s brain active during break (and save your own sanity from the I’m bored! claims), free summer reading programs or a summer reading club are great ways to help avoid the “summer slide.”
(You know, that thing that they say where kids can forget all the stuff they learned from the year before just by doing nothing in the summer?)
But first, before we give you the kid reading program list that have a summer reading program reward…
What is summer reading program?
What is a library summer reading program (summer reading camp)?
A library summer reading program is a free summer program through public libraries that encourage kids to read during the summer. There is usually a theme and the library often holds summer reading program events or reading summer camp. There are also prizes for summer reading program to encourage kids’ reading goals.
Search for free kid summer reading programs near me at your local libraries, but also know that there are library reading challenges from many different sources beyond local libraries that also have summer reading club prizes!
What is the summer reading theme for 2023?
Each library and business may have a different summer reading theme for their summer reading program for kids. However, if your area is part of the Collaborative Summer Learning Program (CSLP), they assign theme. The 2023 summer reading program theme for iREAD is Todos Juntos Ahora – Kindness / Friendship / Unity.
Why is it important to read over the summer?
Let’s also cover the purpose of summer reading program (and then we’ll get to reading free stuff)…
Effectiveness of Summer Reading Programs
Summer reading is important because it helps your kids maintain and improve upon the skills that they learned the previous school year By taking the time to read, students are at less of a risk to fall behind in their school work and studies.
Benefits Of Summer Reading Programs:
- Helps kids maintain reading skills
- Improves reading skills
- Helps kids get ahead in reading
- Builds confidence
- Improves comprehension
- Stimulates imagination
- Expands knowledge and understanding
- Helps kids develop a lifelong habit and love of reading
- Improves memory
- Encourages writing
- Promotes critical thinking
- Provides a fun and engaging activity for the summer
But, skip the reading classes for kids during the summer. Instead find a summer camp for reading or summer reading collaborative or get them signed up for one or more of the summer reading for kids programs below. Encourage them with summer reading challenge prizes!
(Full list of summer reading program incentives below. KEEP SCROLLING — whether you’re looking for a virtual summer reading program or in person summer reading rewards, you’ll find something on this list!)
KIDS HATE READING? START HERE FOR SUMMER READING SUPPORT
What if you’re not ready for reading incentives for kids because your kids don’t enjoy reading.
I have bad news: there’s no magic bullet on how to make kids read and reading summer programs aren’t going to cure it (although rewards for summer reading are a good tool!).
But, if your kids aren’t up for reading in summer (or think kids’ reading programs are dumb), don’t despair!
I have a personal story that may help you:
My daughter started to get into reading 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.
After that, she started naturally choosing longer (and thicker!) chapter books.
(She’s also really loved 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!)
So allow your child to the opportunity to pick their summer reading books without placing any restrictions on them!
Because of her lack of interest in, she’s never participated in summer reading contests or any type of summer reading program.
So, her mind was totally blown when we were in Barnes and Noble one summer and an employee handed her a form for a free summer reading program where she got to pick a free book at the end!
“Wait. I can get free stuff… just for reading… stuff that I pick out?”
And, reading incentive programs got my daughter 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, offers, and summer reading camps, 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 readers (and even non-readers), too!
KIDS’ READING TIPS: Don’t discount a kids audio reading app or reading online! This also helped my daughter out in developing her love of reading. Also, search for summer reading camps near me and see if there’s a fun camp for kids!
Lastly, if your kids hate reading alone, use the summer reading programs for children to read aloud together. (Or, have your older kids read to kids who are younger.)
Kids read aloud books don’t have to just be picture books. They can also be chapter books that the entire family enjoys reading together!
It still counts toward your summer reading goals for rewards for reading books!
OK, let’s get to summer reading 2023 program ideas, summer reading incentive program list, and free reading for kids ideas!
16 Summer Reading Programs for Kids [Updated 2023]
These are fun summer reading programs for struggling readers as much as for avid readers — for preschool readers and up!
Some are summer reading programs for elementary students, but most have high school and even adult summer reading programs. (So, you can have fun, too!)
Also, some of these offer online summer reading programs (which is especially helpful when stuck at home!). They’re like summer reading camps to do from home!
Most of the programs start as early as May and have late August or early September due dates, but each program varies.
Be sure to check the dates so you don’t miss the prize for these book reading challenges. Also, the reading prizes for students will vary greatly for each program. (There are even reading rewards ideas for parents!)
In addition to the best reading program we’ve listed here, be sure to search summer reading programs near me so you don’t miss out on any local programs in your area!
Here are the fun reading challenges ideas and rewards reading programs…
Summer Reading Program #1: Your Local Library
Library summer reading programs are probably the most popular for reading incentive prizes.
Libraries host kids summer reading programs (and summer reading prizes for adults, too!) and often give away prizes for time spent reading or for number of books read and even hold fun events.
So, be sure to start at your library summer reading program / reading summer camps! These are free reading programs for kindergartners and up (yes, even adult reading programs!).
And, local libraries usually have really good summer reading grand prizes! One year my daughter won the summer reading program challenge prize pack and it had an Oculus in it (so it’s not just summer reading incentives for elementary students!). Don’t discount your libraries for reading incentives prizes!
To find libraries in your state, check out PublicLibraries.com or search summer reading challenges for kids [your city] or reading programs for kids near me for free reading program lists.
Summer Reading Program #2: Barnes and Noble Summer Reading
Does Barnes and Noble have a summer reading program? YES, there’s a great Barnes And Noble reading challenge each year!
The Barnes & Noble summer reading program is for grades 1-6 (*UPDATE: NOW EXPANDED TO INCLUDE TEENS AND ADULTS! YAY!) 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 to get a journal to track your summer reads, so be sure to get started on the Barnes and Noble book challenge 2023!
DATES: Usually starts mid-May and ends in September for summer reading challenge rewards.
Summer Reading Program #3: Scholastic Summer Challenge
Scholastic.com has a summer reading challenge (Readapalooza) where kids can log their minutes reading online, unlock online badges and rewards.
The summer reading program Scholastic is a popular choice for kids and parents!
DATES: Summer Reading Scholastic starts May 4 and ends September 4. Also, search the site for a Scholastic summer reading list.
Summer Reading List
*You’ll find great books for pre-k / summer reading program for 1st graders – high school!
Summer Reading Program #4: Half Price Books Summer Reading
Half Price book store summer reading program is called “Feed Your Brain” Summer Reading Program where they encourage kids to read 15 minutes each day in the summer.
The program has two categories: Kids 14 and under and Teens.
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 free reading log from home or pick it up in the store for the Half Price Books Summer Reading Program.
Once your kids log 300 minutes on their summer reading log, take it in to claim their “bookworm bucks.”
There are also some free coloring sheets over on the link! So, be sure to check out Half Price Books reading program!
DATES: 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 K-12.
If you are in the first 250 to complete the readings (and submit them online) in each category, you will receive a $10 gift certificate.
All submissions will be entered into a prize drawing for $150, $100, and $70.
DATES: Ends September
KIDS HATE READING? ALSO CHECK OUT:
Summer Reading Program #6: Chuck E Cheese Summer Reading
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.
Scroll down for the READING REWARDS calendar as part of the Chuck E Cheese reading program.
DATES: This reward reading program runs all year to the end of the year, but each year the calendars 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: Camp Book It Pizza Hut Summer Reading
Does Pizza Hut still do book it? YES! You may remember the BookIt! Program as a kid. The free book challenge from Pizza Hut is still around!
BookIt! is a year-long reading program for kids in Pre- Kindergarten / Prek through Grade 6. (Yes, even Pizza Hut BookIt homeschool.)
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 summer homeschool reading program (not just reward programs for schools!).
How many books did you have to read for Book It?
In the Pizza Hut reading program (Camp BookIt) kids need to read at least five books. Once they do, they will be able to get a free personal pan pizza!
FYI: This isn’t technically a summer reading program, but last year some parents asked me to add it so that they would remember to put it on their schedule for the school year!
DATES: This summer reading kids program runs on a traditional yearly school schedule.
PRO TIP: There are many local restaurant reading incentive programs! Search free reading programs [your city]. or free reading programs near me to see if any local restaurants or businesses offer read reward programs!
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.
DATES: Runs from end of April through end of July for this reading reward programs.
Here’s also a fun way to continue to get audible books throughout the year:
CHECK OUT MORE READING FUN FOR KIDS:
Audio books count for summer reading, too!
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 during the summer.
DATES: Check the website.
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!)
You can also search the internet for “summer reading program near me” or “reading programs for kids near me” to find local businesses providing summer reading programs for kids (and maybe even adults!).
Don’t be afraid to approach local businesses and even suggest some summer reading prize ideas!
TIP: Search summer reading program 2023 near me to see local reading for kids rewards.
MORE SUMMER FUN ACTIVITY IDEAS:
Summer Reading Program #11: Professional Sports Teams
Did you know that some professional sports teams have summer reading programs for kids? (So cool, right?)
So far we’ve found:
Boston Red Sox Summer Reading Program (opens in June)
The reading ages and reading requirements vary, so check each team for summer reading club requirements.
Let us know of any other reading programs free from sports teams and we’ll add them to the list!
Summer Reading Program #12: HEB Summer Reading
H-E-B grocery store has a program for summer reading called the H-E-Buddy Summer Reading Clubs.
Kids living in Texas, ages 3-12, read 10 books, complete the reading log (and have an adult initial it), and your kids will get a special t-shirt.
Deadline is usually October 1st.
Summer Reading Program #13: Virtual Summer Reading Program
Check this out: there are summer online reading programs, too!
Some businesses and organizations offer solely virtual summer reading programs or online reading programs for kids (and adults, too!).
• Department of Defense virtual summer reading program for military families
UPDATE: Many libraries and businesses are still offering virtual summer reading programs, so check your local reading resources for free online reading programs.
Summer Reading Program #14: Braums Book Buddy
Braum’s Ice Cream has a summer reading club where kids in grades 1st-5th can earn up to six free ice cream treats per school year.
The Braums Reading Program actually a program that begins in October of each year and lasts through the school year (not just a summer reading club).
Summer Reading Program #15: Books A Million Summer Reading Program
Books-a-Million is another of the summer children reading programs.
Choose any four books from the summer reading list, write them in the summer reading log, and then claim your reading prize!
Summer Reading Program #16: Sonlight Free Summer Reading Challenge
Sonlight homeschool curriculum has a free reading challenge kit and free printable reading chart. [download the kit here]
According to Sonight:
“The goal is to read something every single day during the summer (6/1-8/31), but it’s flexible for all age and reading levels. Participants can track the number of books read or minutes read per day. Those who share a photo with their completed reading chart and books using #sonlightstories and #sonlightreadingchallenge will win a free Sonlight t-shirt.”
Summer Reading Program #17: Schlitterbahn Waves Of Pages
Schlitterbahn’s Waves of Pages Reading Program is to inspire reading for grades K – 5th grade (prizes for 5th graders and below) and allows kids to earn free admission into the Schlitterbahn water park.
Kids must redeem tickets and use them by August 14th.
How’s that for a fun rewards literacy program?!
Summer Reading Programs That Are Not Active
These are summer book programs for kids / summer reading skills programs that we’ve been asked about from our readers (including free reading incentive programs for elementary schools).
Closed Summer Reading Programs?
- PBKids Reading Challenge (aka: Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge) – ?
- TD Bank’s Summer Reading Program – ?
- Book Adventure – ?
- Chick Fil A Reading Incentive Program – ? (I hope the Chick-Fil-A reading incentive program is still active! Let me know if you find out!)
- Subway Reading Incentive Program / Rewards Program Reading for Subway Sandwiches – ?
- Chipotle Reading Rewards – ?
- McDonald’s reading incentive program – ?
- Six Flags Read To Succeed Program – CONFIRMED – the Read To Succeed Six Flags program no longer offered
We can’t find updated information about them (or current information), but if you work for that book reading program or know about those specific reading for summer programs, let us know and we’ll update our list.
SUMMER READING TIP: Reading Is Fundamental has a fun RIF Road Trip. They don’t give you free things, but it seems fun and you can make your own reward agreement (or brainstorm homeschool reward ideas / homeschool reward system / reading rewards ideas at home) with children as part of your fun summer kids activities! Cool idea for reading programs for free for kids!
If you know of other programs for reading or fun reading rewards ideas (whether it be free reading programs for 1st graders or high schoolers or baby programs), let us know!
GREAT SUMMER READING FOR HIGH SCHOOL: 10th Grade Summer Reading List (Free Printable Summer Reading Log – great for summer reading programs for high school students)