Summer is a great time to encourage children to read and practice their literacy skills, and there are a lot of summer reading programs that can get kids reading. With the right approach, learning can be fun for children and make the summer more meaningful. Here are 10 creative ideas for summer reading programs that will get your kids excited about reading.
Summer Reading Programs
What are Summer Reading Programs?
Summer Reading Programs are focused on encouraging young people to read books during summer break. Each program usually has a theme, is offered online or in-person and provides participants with access to great books and opportunities to interact with other readers. Through these programs, teens are able to engage in thoughtful conversations while discovering different genres of literature and exploring the wonders of good stories.
Benefits of Summer Reading Programs
Summer Reading Programs provide students of all ages with the opportunity to hone their literacy skills, develop a long-term love of reading and build connections with other like-minded peers. Engaging in summer reading is also great for academic development since many programs involve activities that go hand-in-hand with lessons taught during the school year. Additionally, summer reading programs often offer fun rewards for participants and encourage teens to pursue personal interests and explore different types of books.
How to Find Summer Reading Programs
Many schools and libraries offer summer reading programs that are tailored for elementary, middle, and high school students. These programs usually involve a set list of books to read, sometimes with specific age range and genre requirements. Participating in the program often involves writing reports or engaging in online or offline activities related to the text. These programs also typically offer some form of reward upon successful completion. Do an Internet search for summer reading programs in your area or ask around at local schools and libraries that may offer them. Alternatively, you can look into reading challenge programs provided by online book retailers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble which have their own unique sets of rules, rewards, and incentives. Some of my favorite summer reading programs both local and non-local are below whether you plan to start your own or get your child in one.
Summer Reading Lists
Not quite sure what to have kids read in the summer? Check out some of the summer reading lists organized by grade level from Kindergarten through 5th grade.
Summer Reading Program Ideas
Looking to start a summer reading program in your community? Here are some ideas to get you started!
1. Book Club: Encourage children to select books of interest and discuss them with a group
Book clubs are a fun way for children to express their own opinions, learn about each other’s views and discuss different topics as a group. By encouraging children to explore book genres that appeal to them, such as science fiction, fantasy novels or biographies of historical figures, you can help your kids build their own personal library and refine their reading skills. Encouraging friendly discussion among peers is also an important aspect of the summer reading program. The person facilitating the book club needs to have read the book already and have some questions ready for students to discuss when the book club meets.
2. Read-A-Thon: Host an event or challenge kids to read as many books as possible in a month within their age group
A read-a-thon can be a great way to challenge children to read as many books as possible. Assign age groups a certain number of reads or have them participate in competitions with other teams for the most books read. This activity is ideal for helping children improve their reading skills, set personal goals and ultimately increase their love of literature.
3. Scavenger Hunt: Hide books around town for kids to find and enjoy reading at their own pace
Scavenger hunts are a great way to get kids excited about reading. Hide books around town for kids to find and enjoy reading at their own pace. List clues or puzzles that challenge their minds and lead them to each new book. They can collect a new book every few days as part of their summer adventure. With this idea, you also help promote your local businesses as the locations may feature sponsorships from merchants in the area.
4. Live Reading: Invite storytellers or authors to read from their works and discuss their stories
Invite local authors and writers to read from their works and discuss their stories with the kids. This will help enthuse them more about reading. As they get closer to witnessing the process of how books are written. The authors may also share tips on how to write stories, which could spark children’s interest in their own creative writing. Encouraging live discussions between writers and children can spur creative exchange that keeps children actively engaged in summer reading. Storytellers can be a great way to get kids excited about stories. Make sure, though, you are getting quality storytellers appropriate for the age level you are trying to target.
5. Learning Gardens: Plant gardens to grow vegetables while incorporating reading lessons
Incorporate reading lessons into learning gardens and help children create a bond between them and nature. Use this as an opportunity to teach about the benefits of growing their own food, teaching them about composting, nutrition, and other gardening concepts. Give the kids books related to these topics or stories from local authors that talk about similar themes. This encourages student engagement in reading while also teaching them practical skills.
6. Reading Buddy Program: Connect children with buddies in order to better motivate them to read during the summer months
In this program, children are paired with volunteers or librarians who check-in weekly via video calls or in-person meetings. Then, they meet to read or talk about books they’ve been reading and provide effective strategies towards their reading goals. Volunteer reading buddies can be older child or teen mentors or retirees.
7. Audio Books: During long summer road trips or plane rides, audio books may be a great way to make use of precious traveling hours and explore interesting stories in different genres
Depending on the age group, there are usually many selections of kids’ classics along with family friendly titles that everyone can listen to together and enjoy making memories from a shared activity. Most libraries offer a pretty robust selection of audiobooks. These can be checked out for free and can be downloaded onto phones, tablets and other devices.
8. Local Library Events: Be sure to take a look at what type of events your local library has planned for the summer months
Whether it’s guest speaker discussions on literature or movie nights featuring all time favorites such as The Princess Bride or Harry Potter, seeking out exciting opportunities like these are sure to keep anyone engaged in their love for reading over the holiday season! Many offer incentives for reading minutes or books read.
9. Writing Club Projects: Many libraries offer creative writing activities
These encourage children to express themselves through various projects. These could include poetry slams or comic creation sessions that would ultimately help participants cultivate their written expression skills. They also provide possibilities of developing new story ideas with likeminded peers! These are often best with older children and can encourage reading by taking inspiration from books they read and books that other children read.
10. Outdoor Reading Hours: Finding small moments throughout days this summer could be easily done while out in nature
Some libraries offer outdoor activities and atmospheres geared towards young readers who take pleasure in relaxing outside amongst trees accompanied by beautiful scenery such as gardens/flower beds specialized for a “story hour under blue skies” type of activity!
Summer Reading Programs Offered by Various Organizations
Different reading organizations both local and national offer a variety of summer reading programs to encourage kids to read during the summer. Discover some of the many programs below:
Almost all public libraries and even some school libraries offer programs where kids can earn prizes for reading. They offer extra programs such as special events from local organizations to connect kids to reading and the community.
Barnes and Noble
Kids can print a reading log and complete it. They bring in the completed reading log to their nearest Barnes and Noble store and can choose a free book. Currently, the summer reading log is offered in English and Spanish. You can get more information including the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Log here.
Scholastic also offers an online reading program in the summer that usually starts in May. The Scholastic Home Base allows students to create an avatar, explore online books, and more! Check out the Scholastic Summer Reading Program here.
Half Price Books
The HPB Summer Program offers a variety of activities each year including giveaways and many other activities. One of my favorite parts of this program are suggested reading lists by age. Check out more info about the HPB summer reading program here.
Reading Is Fundamental
RIF is a reading non-profit organization. Each year they organize themed reading activities providing reading lists, ebooks, an app, and more. This one does not have any incentives offered as of this writing, though, this may change. Check out what this year’s theme is by visiting their summer reading program website here.
Local Professional Sports Teams
Baseball teams and other summer sports teams often offer summer reading programs. Often, they incentivize reading by offering tickets to games for completing reading challenges. Search for your local professional search teams and summer reading to see what games you might be able to go see by participating in their program!
Suggestions For Engaging Middle and High School Students With Their Summer Reading
Middle and high school students are often more motivated by rewards than younger students. One way to increase engagement is to set a goal or prize rather than focusing on time limits. Host activities centered around the chosen reading material. These can range from art projects or book reports to small group discussions where students can share their ideas and perspectives on the reading material. Consider organizing field trips or movie screenings that tie in with the content of the book for an added incentive for teen participants. Activities that involve peers who are friends are also more successful than individual reading programs.
Conclusion: Summer Reading Program Ideas
These are just a few ways to engage kids and teens in reading in the summers. The important thing is to put kids in front of books and stories that they enjoy. And have someone talk to them about them whether that person is you, a peer or someone else. Reading and stories are meant to be shared!