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5 Fantastic National Summer Reading Programs for Kids of All Ages

Emily Wenstrom

Staff Writer

By day, Emily Wenstrom is a content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstorm, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.. Her Chronicles of the Third Realm War series includes Mud (#1), Tides (#2), Rain (#0), and more to come. Follow her on Twitter @ejwenstrom.

June is a time for the final countdown to freedom from the classroom. And then, the summer reading assignments begin. Of course, for a book lover, there are worse things than the suggestion to stay out of the intense heat and instead take in a good book (or take one poolside).

Keep your reading life active with these 5 all-ages summer reading programs open to anyone across the USA. reading challenges | summer reading | summer reading programs | reading habits

In fact, summer reading can be a critical way to fight back against summer slide—or, the tendency for students to forget some of what they learned over the year. Research indicates that kids who read over the summer gain a month of reading proficiency, while students who don’t just stagnate in their literacy, but lose two to three months of reading proficiency, leaving a gap in overall literacy of three to four months!

These five national level summer reading challenges can help to inspire and reward kids for making time to read while on break.

Amazon Summer Reading Challenge

Since this internet behemoth is increasingly the source of the vast majority of book purchases, it just makes sense that it would provide a summer reading program. The rules make it open to just about anyone, of any age: Read eight books over the summer, and deliver your list of completed titles to an Amazon store by September 10. The prizes, however—a Star Reader Certificate and a free book among three featured titles—are only available for students kindergarten to 8th grade. Some inspiration to get started on your reading list is provided on the program web page.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading for Kids

Barnes & Noble’s summer reading program also rewards kids for reading eight titles over the summer months—just bring your completed reading journal, complete with favorite parts of each book, to a Barnes & Noble store to pick your free book. Kids age 7 and under can also collect exclusive stickers at Storytime in stores all summer long, and teens can join YA Book Club starting in June. There’s even section of great summer book recommendations for adults.

And, they offer an easy win to get you started—share your school’s required reading list for the summer and you’re instantly rewarded with a free coffee. 

Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

The Goodreads program provides a list of creative categories to select your books from, with offerings for both beginners and experts. These get a little more creative, and the open-ended nature of them can be adapted for any age group. They’re a fun way to stretch yourself (“read a book in a format you don’t usually read in) or explore Goodreads further (read a book that shows up in your news feed). There are no prizes for this one, but I’d anticipate a fair amount of personal satisfaction and probably bragging to your friends, who may or may not care.

Half Price Books Reading Program

Running through June and July, Half Price Books offers age-appropriate programs for both teens and younger students. Teens can earn Bookworm Bucks from the store by leaving a review on the website for each book they complete. Students 14 and under can earn Bucks by reaching a total of 300 minutes spent reading (or being read to by an adult) over the summer.

The website also offers a number of resources for students and teachers to help their efforts.

Scholastic Read-A-Palooza

From May 6 to September 6, the Scholastic summer reading site is tallying the collective total of minutes read by all participants. When students enter their time, they help reach three milestone goals, at which points Scholastic will donate 200,000 books to United Way. As kids add their progress, they’re rewarded with weekly challenges and digital rewards, such as exclusive book excerpts and videos.