Best Summer Reading Programs for Kids and Teens 2020

When I was in elementary school, the end of the school year brought many exciting events. There were class picnics, field day, and my absolute favorite event: the roll out of the absolute best summer reading programs. At the last library class of the year, our wonderful librarian would introduce our summer reading books. Balancing a stack of library bound chapter books in one hand, and holding a book open with the other, she delivered a short blurb for each book. Somehow, she made each book sound more appealing than the one before. I sat on the edge of my chair and wrote down such titles as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, and Redwall. As an adult, I still wish that same school librarian would curate a stack of books for my summer reading.

Summer reading is a fun, rewarding, and important part of summer vacation. Reading during the summer helps combat the “summer slide” or loss of reading skills that many students experience when not in the classroom. This year especially, with the school year cut short or modified, summer reading is more important than ever.

To motivate your child and to make reading more exciting, I have put together a list of 2020’s best summer reading programs, challenges, and book logs.

Public Library Summer Reading Programs

If you are interested in a summer reading program, try your local library first. Many libraries are moving their programs online this summer. Need help finding the library closest to you? Check out LibWeb.org for a searchable database of libraries worldwide.

Free Summer Reading Programs 2020

Scholastic Summer Read-a-Palooza

Scholastic is providing students of all ages an exciting at-home reading challenge. Through their safe, free, and fun online destination Home Base, kids can log in and track their reading streaks, earn special rewards, and even donate books to kids across the United States. One feature that I like about this program is that children document their “reading streaks,” or consecutive days that they log into Home Base, instead of counting pages or minutes of reading.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program and Give-Away

Kids in grades 1–6 can simply read eight books and earn a free book from any participating Barnes and Noble. Students need to print out the Barnes and Noble Journal, record eight books, write a sentence about their favorite part, and then bring their journal to Barnes and Noble between July 1st and August 31st to choose a free book. I’m hoping they make an adult version of this program!

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program

Kids can read for 15 minutes a day to feed their brains and have the chance to win weekly prizes from Half Price Books. This year, their summer reading program moves online. Children need to print, fill out the daily reading log, and then share it by tagging @halfpricebooks and using the hashtag #FeedYourBrain for a chance to win summer reading prizes! HPB.com will also share weekly reading tips, recommendations, and virtual story times. They also encourage very young readers to take part in this challenge by logging the minutes that adults read to them.

Sync Audiobooks for Teens

Sync is a free summer audiobook program for teens. They can access Sync through mobile phones or any device that supports the Sora app by OverDrive. Sync features diverse authors from many different cultures. It also encourages teens to listen to books while working out, completing chores around the house, driving, and even while waiting in line.

Book It Summer Reading Program

The Book It Summer Reading Program moves online this summer. Parents simply sign up for weekly emails and Book It sends summer reading activity ideas, author spotlights, and tips for encouraging summer reading to their inboxes.

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Adventure

This summer, Books-A-Million teams us with Dog Man author Dav Pilkey for a summer reading adventure. Kids can choose four books from the Summer Reading Adventure section either in the store or online. Then, they write about the books in the Summer Reading Adventure Log Book. Finally, they show their completed log to a Books-A-Million employee to receive a free Dog Man baseball cap.

At-Home Summer Reading Challenges

Free Summer Reading Log: Printable Genre Challenge

Visit Edventures with Kids to download the free summer reading log. This log is unique because it encourages children to read books from many different genres including animal fiction, biography, and historical fiction. After completing the challenge, maybe your child will find a new favorite genre to explore!

#StayHome Reading Bingo Card

Families who wish to stay home this summer can print out this reading bingo card. Kids can complete a reading challenge and then color the corresponding square. Squares include such awesome challenges as read about another country, read in a tent, and read about a famous woman in history. After that, it is up to each family how they want to use the completed bingo cards. Kids could trade them in for reading rewards, new books, activities, or other incentives.

A Summer Reading Challenge to Avoid the Summer Slide

Print off this creative summer reading challenge to help kids avoid the dreaded summer slide. I like this chart because it not only suggests different types of books for kids to read, but also includes fun ways to do it. On one side of the chart, the author lists different types of books and media including menus, magazines, and joke books. In the second column, she offers such ideas as read to a pet, read to a baby, and read with a flashlight. Kids will not only love seeing all of the different types of text to read over the summer, but will also enjoy reading in so many creative ways.

Children’s Summer Reading Challenge for Picky Readers

Children’s author Julie Stroebel Baricello offers a summer reading challenge for picky readers. She noticed that many children (and adults) read the same genre over and over. Some kids read strictly novels while others only read fantasy. With her summer reading challenge, she encourages children to expand their reading palate. She lists 30 reading challenges and suggests that readers create their own challenge by choosing a number to complete—from five challenges to all 30. In the challenge, she includes many diverse categories and encourages children to read a book with a character who is a minority, a book set in another country, and a graphic novel.

A Reading Log Kids Can Color

Some readers become very bogged down with filling out reading logs. Even voracious readers can tire quickly of always writing down the titles, authors, and favorite parts of the books they read. This reading log is a nice change from the more traditional one. It is comprised of three shelves with ten blanks books each. After a child reads a book, he or she simply colors in the spine. This is a great reading log to tape to the refrigerator or hang where a child can easily color a book after finishing it. As someone who does not enjoy logging my reads, I’m tempted to print this one out for myself!

Read Every Day Summer Reading Log

This is another simple reading log that encourages kids to color in books once they finish reading. Instead of focusing on how many books children read, this one suggests that they color in a book each day that they read for at least 15 minutes. Very cute calendars are included for June, July, and August.


Ready? Set? Now go and begin your summer reading challenge in 2020!