If you’re looking for summer reading programs for kids, this is our comprehensive list of all the completely FREE programs!
Believe it or not, it’s almost that time of year again — when school is out and summer reading programs abound. Yay!
Note: We recommend calling your local stores to verify that they’re participating in these programs this year.
The Best Summer Reading Programs
Do your kids love to read, too? If so, this is our big list of all the FREE summer reading programs that are available nationally!
Reading Programs for elementary aged kids
Barnes & Noble — Earn a free book through the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program for kids in grades 1-6.
- Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (PDF download). Explain which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
- Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between July 1st and August 31st, 2023.
- Receive a FREE BOOK of your choice from the selection on the Reading Journal list.
Summer Reading Programs for older kids
Half Price Books — Starting June 1st, Half Price Books is hosting Summer Reading Camp for kids 14 or younger. Kids are encouraged to read 15 minutes per day to reach a total of at least 300 minutes. After that, they can turn in their completed reading log to their local store to earn Bookworm Bucks to spend. Each week they will also offer fun new printable activity sheets of all kinds!
Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program — Kids ages 18 and under can select a list from the grade level bands listed. Print the list and track each book you read by checking it off and recording the date it was read, along with a rating. Submit your list to receive a recognition certificate and T-shirt!
Pizza Hut Camp Book It — In addition to their annual school year program, Pizza Hut also has their summer reading program called Camp Book it! Simply track your child’s reading during June, July, and August. Once they reach their monthly reading goal, they can redeem for a free one-topping personal pizza at Pizza Hut!
Showcase Cinemas — Bookworm Wednesdays entitles kids to free movie admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas box office.
SYNC — A summer reading program geared toward teens aged 13 and older, the program will run for 14 weeks and offer two thematically paired audiobooks for checkout each week, for free, to every registered listener.
Local Libraries — Above all, don’t forget about your local library! Most of them offer fun summer reading programs with prizes and more.
Bonus: Don’t forget about the Pizza Hut Book-It Program that runs each school year!
Why do a Summer Reading Program?
Summer reading programs are a great opportunity for kids to keep reading (and learning) even when they’re not in school.
Summer reading programs are free and something your children can do anywhere and at any time.
With the added incentives and prizes offered, it’s a win-win for kids and their families!
Why are summer reading programs important?
It’s good for their brain development and can help them to retain more of what they learned during the school year.
Reading is also a great way to pass the time — time they might otherwise spend zoning out to screens!
How to encourage kids with their Summer Reading Programs
The best way to encourage your children to do anything is by modeling the behavior you want for them — so start reading!
Ask them what types of books interest them and then ask your librarian to suggest similar books at the child’s reading level. Or, select books you can read aloud to them.
Make reading time fun with special snacks, by reading outside, or by letting them “stay up late” to read one more chapter.
FAQs for Kid Summer Reading Programs
It depends on your child’s reading level and what would be the “best” motivator for him or her. Look through the list of online reading programs above and check out your local library offerings and then just pick one!
Save time and let your local library organize it for you — or search online for a free summer reading program. Most libraries and dozens of online websites offer reading programs for free.
Once you’ve selected the summer reading program you want to do, then have a set time each day where you and/or your children will read for at least 15-20 minutes. Make sure to record your reading time and follow up with the appropriate challenges, and of course, don’t forget to redeem any prizes or rewards!
Download our FREE Kid’s Summer Reading Printable Pack!
Looking for a fun way to encourage and motivate your kids to read more? Or need a creative way for your kids to keep track of all the books they read through summer reading programs this year?
Be sure to download our FREE Kid’s Summer Reading Printable Pack! It comes with a reading challenge, reading time tracker, and fill-in-the-blank summer reading list.