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10 Free Summer Reading Programs For Kids

Just For Fun News Parenting

For many kids, the end of the school year signals the beginning of a long "summer slide" or "summer brain drain" -- the loss of academic skills and knowledge that takes place when kids aren't actively engaged in learning at school. Decades of research show that kids lose between one to three months of grade level equivalency in reading and math skills over the summer. Oh my! 

One of the best ways to combat summer learning loss is to get your kids to read. While we all wish our kids would pick up a book for the simple joy of reading it, many kids find it difficult to motivate themselves to read without the structure and built-in incentives that school provides. This is where summer reading programs come in, providing that extra push kids need to make reading a habit over the summer. 

1.     Barnes & Noble's Summer Reading Program. Children in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading any eight books over the summer. Kids must fill out a Summer Reading Journal with the book's title, author and their favorite part and bring it to a Barnes & Noble store between May 15th - September 3rd. 

2.     Books-A-Million Summer Reading Adventure. Kids can earn a free pencil case and pencils for reading four books from their Summer Reading Adventure section in-store or online and writing about them in their Summer Reading Adventure notebook. Kids must show their completed notebook to a store associate to receive their reward. Find your local store here.

3.     Chuck E. Cheese's Reading Rewards Program. Kids can earn 10 free Chuck E. Cheese's tokens for reading every day for 2 weeks. This promotion is valid all year round, but requires a food purchase to redeem.

4.     Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program In partnership with Candelwick Press, the BOOK IT! Program provides suggested book titles and accompanying free downloadable activities for your kids to complete to get them motivated to read and think about what they read. You can subscribe to their summer series emails with weekly reading activities here. Kids whose schools are enrolled in the BOOK IT! Program can also earn a free one-topping Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza, a prize and a sticker for each month they complete their reading goal. 

5.     Pottery Barn Kids. Pottery Barn Kids hosts weekly story time every Tuesday at 11 a.m. at their stores where kids listen to stories and participate in fun activities. Become a Pottery Barn Kids Book Club member and your child will receive a special surprise after attending five story time events. This is a great program to get your littlest littles excited about reading!

6.     Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. Free, online reading program that allows kids to log their summer reading minutes and unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges. The 2018 theme is "A Magical Summer of Reading," celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. To participate, students must be registered by a teacher, public librarian or community organization leader. 2018 program dates are May 7th - September 7th.

7.     SYNC for Teens. Summer audiobook program for ages 13+ that gives away two FREE complete high interest audiobook downloads every week throughout the summer based on weekly themes. Titles are delivered in MP3 format through the OverDrive app and are available for download for a period of 7 days only. Titles change every Thursday at 7 a.m. EDT. You can sign up to get notifications when the new free downloads are available, or visit to view weekly titles.

8.     TD Bank Summer Reading Program. Encourages kids in grades K-5 to read by depositing $10 into a new or existing TD Simple Savings account when they complete their own 10-book reading challenge. 

9.     Your Public Library. Most public libraries offer a free kids summer reading program with activities and incentives. Be sure to check with your local branch.

10.    Design Your Own! Start With a Book offers free summer reading and learning resources for parents aimed at warding off the learning loss that many children experience over the summer months. They offer engaging ideas for getting kids hooked on reading, including 24 kid-friendly topics featuring specific ideas for using books and related downloadable activities and practical suggestions for using reading time to build a child's reading fluency. They even offer the option to sign up to receive weekly text messages with great summertime ideas for reading, writing and hands-on fun. Simply text READING to 41411 from your mobile phone to sign up. Use their resources to design a summer reading rewards program that fits the needs of your child and family! 

~ Kim Humphrey

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