I love the idea of involving my kids in summer reading programs. I loved to read as a child and, as you may recall, totally fell out of the habit of doing it as I grew. I also love children’s and pictures books, so even as an adult I especially love the idea of being incentivized by the promise of more books for the house! Several years ago my friend told me about Half Price Books “Feed Your Brain” program, and I loved it. It turns out though that when you have twin toddlers, it’s far more work than it’s worth. I mean, we’ve always read to and with them and that wasn’t the work – but logging my minutes spent reading picture books to them, turning it into the store, and picking out new books was just so much harder than collecting books from Amazon and Target. (Lazy? Perhaps, but the point remains – it just wasn’t happening.)
Over the course of this school year, reading has taken center stage with all three of my kids. The older two were required to read 100 minutes a week for school, and even still at the end of the school year they throghouly enjoying challenging themselves to read more and more, and generally clock 250-300 minutes without trying all that hard. My son totally learned to read (um, on his own, basically?) before he turned four, and blew us all away – so of course we immediately begin building into that more and more with early readers, phonics books sets, and pictures books that have mostly words he can read.
So THIS year, we’re doing summer reading right. I rounded up some of the programs that are most appealing to us in Northern Cincinnati, in addition to many national programs – so hopefully you can all find something that works for your family!
Don’t forget to check your local library as well. If they haven’t already, they’ll soon begin sharing summer reading programs on their websites, social media sites, and in person. Added bonus: most local libraries not only reward reading at home, but have super fun (and often FREE!) programming for families during the summer, too.
Summer Reading Programs in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Public Library Summer Learning (Public Libraries of Hamilton County)
- programs for everyone… really! Babies, preschoolers, kids, teens, and adults can all register and track their reading for rewards and prizes.
- reach reward levels for the amount of time spent reading (reward levels vary by age, between 2-4 hours)
- rewards include free books, toys, Gold Star Chili coupons, and entries for prizes
- prizes include Duplo and Lego sets, a Kindle Fire, and $100 Kroger gift cards
- rewards and prizes can be claimed at all CPL branches for reading done June 1 – July 31
- check out the site for free lunch programs, family events, reading suggestions, and more!
Mason Public Library Summer Reading
- stay tuned for details! past programs included incredible prizes from local sponsors
Midpointe Library Systems (West Chester, Middletown, and Trenton) Get in the Game! Program
- all kids can participate, with age groups “Birth-PreKindergarten”, “Kindergarten through 5th”, and “6th-12th”
- visit any MidPionte library location beginning June 1 to pick up a reading log, or get one online
- turn in reading logs by July 31 for prizes, and for entries into a Grand Prize drawing
- Adults can participate too! Fill out a raffle ticket for each book you complete between June 1 and July 31 and turn it into your local branch for a chance at weekly prizes.
PS – Read about the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge below, but don’t miss out on the Road Trip stop at Blue Manatee books on May 21!
Summer Reading Programs near YOU!
Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program
- kids 18 and under can earn Bookworm Bucks for every 300 minutes of reading they log (or for high schoolers, by reading a title suggested by HPB and following online instructions)
- minutes can be logged and Bookworm Bucks earned between June 1 and July 31 (one per child, per month)
- Also, don’t miss “The Biggest Storytime of the Summer” on June 5. Check your local store for details.
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Triathlon
- kids in Grades 1-6 can turn in a reading journal, on which they answer questions about their favorite book, books that made them read more quickly, their favorite book series, and more
- upon completion of the reading journal (no minimum required), each child can pick a FREE book from a recommended reading list; free books include classes from H. A. Rey and Judy Blume, as well as new favorites!
- reading journals can be turned in between May 17 and September 6, so you can get started now!
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
- kids read and log as many minutes as possible between May 9 and September 9
- minutes add up to win virtual prizes and games, as well as sweepstakes entries for prizes from Klutz!
- individual logins offer safe interactions for kids (with friends and family), extra games and activities, and visual tracking for increased motivation
- check out the site for interviews with favorite authors, family activities and printables, book recommendations and more
- be on the lookout for the Scholastic Reading Summer Road Trip in a city near you, to find author signings, giveaways, activities, character appearances, and fun crafts!
Chuck E. Cheese Reading Reward Calendar
- all year round, Chuck E. Cheese partners with parents to encourage good behaviors and habit formation
- kids log reading every day for two weeks, and earn free tokens for game play at Chuck E. Cheese
- see site for other progress charts including potty training, dental hygiene, chores, music practice, and more than a dozen others
- Chuck E. Cheese also offers year round awards parents can give children for sports performance, doctor visits, end of the year celebrations and more
Sylvan Learning Book Adventure
- Sylvan Learning provides year-round reading fun with a super customizable adventure portal. Schools, parents, families, and groups can set up reading challenges. Kids of all ages can take quizzes about books they read and earn points toward prizes from temporary tattoos to magazine subscriptions to books and music
- super comprehensive site: kids learning section increases reading skills, suggests books, and more. Parents section provides guidance, suggestions, and activities. Additional resources abound for teachers and home educators. Reports are made after kids complete quizzes, so parents can follow along with progress
- extremely versatile, but not necessarily straight-forward or linear. Perfect for some families and groups.
Pottery Barn Kids Weekly Storytime
- weekly throughout the year, attend story time at your local Pottery Barn Kids store (usually Tuesdays at 11, but verify with your store!)
- kids receive a special gift after attending 5 times!
Readers my age will likely remember Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” program with fondness. I hate to brag, but I was pretty much the master of the program… though I really can’t even remember what it entailed, other than special trips to Pizza Hut with my teachers. I was so cool in elementary school that such a prize was like finding the holy grail and I did it as often as possible. Don’t be intimidated, I’m far less cool now.
Unfortunately, Book It! is even more a mystery to me these days since my children’s school doesn’t participate, but I did find an incredible bevy of resources we can all use, all summer! They have provided the most wonderful monthly calendars with reading activities, book-specific activity recommendations, “must read” lists, and more, all to help kids stay interested and become successful readers. Check them all out here!
Spend time playing outside, swim in your local pool, take family trips to local attractions and go on vacation if your time and budget allow. Heck, even play on screened devices and watch TV and movies, because summer is totally the best time to be a little lazy. But don’t forget to make reading a part of the routine for your entire family, with awesome programs to help keep you on track. Happy (almost) Summer!
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