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5 Free Summer Reading Programs Your Kids Will Love

Posted at 9:11 AM, May 22, 2019

Encouraging your kids to read during the summer can help prevent the dreaded “brain drain” that school officials warn can happen during the break. Beyond that, books can serve as great boredom busters, entertaining your kids by allowing their imaginations to travel to another time or place.

Whether you’ve got a budding bookworm or a child who needs a little extra incentive when it comes to reading, here are five summer reading programs that kids can participate in while school is out. The free programs allow children to earn prizes in exchange for completed reading logs.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

The program details: Read any eight books throughout the summer and record them in a Summer Reading Journal (download it here). Kids will be asked to share the title, the author and their favorite part of the book. Then, bring the completed journal to a Barnes and Noble store between August 1-31 and choose a free book. On the front page of the journal, you can find a list of the free books, broken down by grade level.

Who is eligible? While Barnes and Noble offers curated reading lists for kids and teens, the free book prize is only offered to those who are in the first through sixth grades.

Find more information here.

barnes and noble photo
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards

The program details: Actually, Chuck E. Cheese has several charts that reward kids with free games in exchange for things like good table manners and teeth-brushing habits. A “Reading Rewards” chart simply requires your kid to read every day for two weeks. In return, your child can get 10 free play points with any food purchase.

Who is eligible? All kids. The offer expires on December 31, 2019.

Find more information here.

chuck e cheese photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Amazon Summer Reading Program

The program details: Amazon’s program is fairly straightforward. Kids can read any eight books this summer. They just need to keep a reading list of the books they’ve finished. Then, bring in that list to an Amazon store (locate one here) by September 10, 2019 and receive a free book.

Who is eligible? Kids in grades K-8.

Find more information here.


Scholastic Read-a-Palooza

The program details: Through September 6, participating kids can enter their summer reading minutes online and unlock digital rewards such as book excerpts and videos. Reading minutes will also unlock book donations for other kids, which is orchestrated through a partnership that Scholastic has with United Way. Scholastic has pledged to give away 200,000 books this summer.

Who is eligible? All kids! To participate in the summer reading challenge, your kids can register through their school, public library, or a community partner organization (such as a local youth center) — or they can sign up online to participate individually. But there are perks you get for joining a group. The reading program will recognize schools, libraries and community centers that have high participation with a “party-in-a-box” that comes with student certificates.

Find more information here. A parents’ guide is available here.



Half-Price Books

The program details: Kids are challenged to read at least 15 minutes per day throughout June and July. A parent or guardian needs to initial the reading log. Once 300 minutes are accumulated, the reading log can be exchanged for “Bookworm Bucks” (aka store credit) at a local Half-Price Books store. (Find locations here). The program doesn’t specify how much store credit is given in exchange for the reading log, but you’ll need to get it in before August 29, 2019.

Who is eligible? Kids and pre-teens aged 14 and under.

Find more information here.


In addition to these programs, we recommend checking with your local library to see what kind of summer reading programs and events they’re offering for children. Also, here are a dozen surprising things that you can get at your library aside from books to make summer more enjoyable.

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