6 Fun Summer Reading Programs Kids Will Love

6 Fun Summer Reading Programs Kids Will Love

Kids are counting down the days until school is out, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to put the books away.

Summer reading programs abound to keep kids reading throughout the summer.

“It is so important for students to keep reading over the summer. Like any acquired skill, reading needs to be practiced,” says Sarah Pavlik, third grade teacher atHarper School in Wilmette District 39.

She says that participating in summer reading programs helps kids maintain reading stamina and ability. Pavlik also notes that games and activities at libraries, bookstores and restaurants hosting reading programs “promote more dialogue about books between friends and beg the question, ‘What are you reading this week?”’

Summer reading programs often center on fun topics. “Having a great theme is what motivates the kids to join a reading program,” says Sara Sinek, Vice President of Corporate Communications forScholastic.

All local libraries offer great summer reading programs, so be sure to check with your local branch.

Summer Reading Programs

1. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Reading Under the Stars

Kids are encouraged to read and log minutes all summer long with the collective goal of setting a new reading world record for number of minutes read. “With this number of kids signed up, we are sure to break the reading world record in no time,” Sinek says. “This is certainly going be a summer all about reading.”

The Reading Under the Stars Guide gives parents expert articles, videos and free printable activities to make summer reading fun at home. They also have a free reading timer app.

On June 6, the Adler Planetarium hosts a special “Reading Under the Stars” overnight event with free books, flashlights and activity sheets for attendees.

2. Barnes & Noble: Imagination’s Destination

After participants read and record eight books in a reading journal, they may choose a free book from the store’s Reading Journal list. A guide for parents and teachers as well as student activity sheets can be found online.

3. Meatheads: Voracious Meatheads Reading Program 


Reading makes you hungry! Kids up to age 13 earn a free burger after reading five books.

4. Pizza Hut: Spark Your Greatness Summer Reading Challenge 

Kids entering kindergarten through sixth grade who read five books over the summer will be eligible to win one of 50 prizes. Kids and parents can participate together in an Instagram scavenger hunt at #BOOKITSummer.

5. Pottery Barn Kids: Summer Reading Challenge 

The store offers a book list for independent readers and another for early readers designed for parents to read with younger children. Kids who read them all can print a certificate of completion, earn a free book, and enter to win a backpack of books. Reading events will be held in stores.

6. American Girl: Read-a-Palooza 

The downloadable reading guides, worksheets, historical character trivia and store are designed to help kids escape into a story.

Summer Book Suggestions 

Pavlik says that summer is a great time to let kids pick their own titles. “High-interest, engaging material may hook reluctant readers. Ultimately, teachers want students to discover the joy of reading!”

Grades 3-5


Middle School

High School


The American Library Association offers reading lists for grades kindergarten through eighth gradehere. James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read website also has several book lists.