Summer Reading Challenges for Kids: What They Are and How to Do Them!

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Home » Education » Summer Reading Challenges for Kids: What They Are and How to Do Them!

Are you looking for something that your kids can do to stay busy over the summer break, but also that will keep them learning? If so, then a summer reading challenge may be just what you need!

two kids sitting outside reading books

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Summer break is the perfect time for family fun and more relaxed days, but it can also mean listening to “I’m bored!” more often than you’d like! Enter the summer reading challenge! They’re a great way to keep kids busy and engaged in learning while school is out.

And many summer reading challenges and summer reading programs offer suggested reading lists or themes to help guide your child’s choices, so they can explore books that they might not have otherwise picked up. Plus, reading challenges often come with fun activities and prizes to keep kids motivated and engaged throughout the summer – and what kid doesn’t love cool prizes?!

So whether your child loves books (like my daughter), or they act like they’re allergic to reading (like my son!), a summer reading challenge can be a great activity for everyone!

What is a Summer Reading Challenge?

A summer reading challenge is a program or activity designed to encourage kids to read during the summer months when school is out. The purpose of these challenges is to help prevent the “summer slide,” which refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge that can sometimes happen during the long break from school.

Summer reading challenges are typically organized by schools, libraries, community organizations, or online platforms. The challenges may vary in structure and goals, but usually involve setting reading goals and providing incentives to motivate kids to read more.

Why Participate in a Summer Reading Program?

You may be wondering if you should even bother to have your child participate in a summer reading challenge or not.  Here are some reasons why you should consider signing up for a summer reading program (or several programs if you’re like me and my kids!):

  • Keeps Reading Skills Sharp

Summer time may be when you take a break from school, but it doesn’t mean that you have to take a break from learning! Participating in a summer reading challenge can help your child keep their reading skills sharp and prevent the “summer slide” (which is where students lose some of these important skills during the summer).

  • Earn Prizes

Many summer reading challenges and programs offer prizes for meeting reading goals. These prizes can be a great motivation to keep your kiddos reading throughout the summer. Public libraries and other programs offer rewards for logging reading minutes, reading a certain number of books, or reaching challenge milestones.

  • Discover New Books and Authors

Summer reading challenges are a great way to discover new books and authors. Libraries and programs often have recommended reading lists as well as staff who can help your kids find books that match their interests. They might even discover a new favorite author or genre that they wouldn’t have found otherwise.

  • Can be Done Anywhere

Once your child is signed up, they can do their reading anywhere! So whether you’re home or traveling, they can still participate in the challenge. It gives them something to do no matter where you are!

How to Participate in a Summer Reading Challenge

Participating in a summer reading program can be a fun and rewarding experience for your kiddos. Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Find a Summer Reading Program

Many local public libraries offer summer reading programs that are free and open to the public. You can check with your local library to see if they have a program available. Alternatively, you can also look for online programs, like the ones listed in the section below.

  • Register for the Program

Once you have found a summer reading program, you will need to register for it. This may involve filling out an online form or visiting the library (or organization) in person. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully to ensure that you are properly registered.

  • Set a Reading Goal

Setting a reading goal can help your kids stay motivated throughout the summer. Decide how many books, pages, or minutes they’ll read (or be read to), and write it down. Oftentimes the reading program you sign up for will have a chart or way to record this information. 

You can also use a premade reading log to track your progress (I have some fun summer reading challenge charts that can help you keep track of everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop!).

Teachers pay teachers shop listing photo for reading chart
  • Read, Read, Read!

The most important part of a summer reading challenge is, of course, reading! Try to have your child set aside time each day to read and stick to their reading goals. And remind them that they can also try new genres or authors to keep things interesting.

  • Participate in Games and Activities

Many summer reading programs offer games and activities that can make reading even more fun. Check with your program to see if they have any available. You can also create your own games and activities to make reading more exciting!

Popular Summer Reading Programs:

Summer reading challenges are a great way to keep kids engaged in reading during the summer months, and many offer free prizes or other incentives! Here are a few popular summer reading programs that you can participate in:

  • Your Local Library

This is my favorite way to have my kids participate in a summer reading challenge. Almost all public libraries offer some type of summer program and the best part is that they are local, fun, and free! At the beginning of summer break, stop by your local library and see what kind of summer programs they’re planning to have and sign up for whatever would be a good fit for your child.

  • Camp Book It! (From Pizza Hut’s Book It Program)

This reading program is for kids in grades Pre-K to 6th and typically runs from June through August. You can set reading goals for your kids and then track and record those goals in an online dashboard. When they have met their goals, they earn a one topping personal pan pizza! For more details, go to the Book It Program website.

  • Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online reading program for kids. The program is designed to help kids read more books and avoid the “summer slide.” Kids can log their reading minutes online and earn rewards along the way. The program also includes reading lists, activities, and resources for parents and teachers. Go to Scholastic Summer Reading to learn more.

  • Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

Barnes and Noble offers a summer reading program for kids in grades 1-6. Kids can earn a free book by reading any eight books and filling out a reading journal. The program runs from May through August. Go to Barnes and Noble’s website to get your printable reading journal and learn more.

  • Half Price Books Summer Reading Program

The Half Price Books Summer Reading Program is a great way to encourage kids and teens to read during the summer. Participants can earn Bookworm Bucks for reading and completing reading logs. The program also includes weekly social giveaways and free coloring sheets. Get more information and register at Half Price Books.

  • Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo is a fun way to challenge your kids to read a variety of books during the summer. Create a bingo card (or buy a premade reading bingo chart like the one below!) with different reading challenges such as “read a book by a new author” or “read a book with a blue cover.” Cross off each challenge as you complete it and try to get bingo!

  • Reading Challenges by Genre

Create your own reading challenge by choosing a specific genre to focus on during the summer. Some popular genres to consider include:

  • Mystery
  • Non-Fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Biographies
  • Historical Fiction

Choose a specific number of books to read within the genre and challenge your kids to explore new authors and titles.

Overall, summer reading challenges are a great way to keep kids engaged in reading during the summer months. Whether you participate in a formal program or create your own challenge, reading can be a fun and rewarding activity for everyone! And for even more summer fun, check out this post on making a summer bucket list!

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