A Fun Summer Reading Challenge For Kids

Looking for a fun way to keep your kids reading during summer break? Check out my summer reading challenge for kids! This challenge is designed to be fun and educational, and will help keep your child’s mind active while they’re on summer break.

Reading is an important skill that should be practiced all year round, not just during the school year. But let’s face it, getting kids to read during summer break can be a challenge. This is why I created the summer reading challenge- to make reading fun!

kids reading

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Do Summer Reading Programs Work?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes! Summer reading programs have been proven, time and again, to be successful at keeping students engaged in learning during their break. Studies show that kids who participate in summer reading programs gain more information than those who don’t, and that they are better prepared for the next school year as well.

Furthermore, summer reading programs can help build children’s confidence by helping them feel more comfortable when tackling challenging material or trying out something new. A successful summer reading program also involves opportunities for creativity and imagination – activities like book discussions, scavenger hunts, plays and other creative tasks can keep kids interested in continuing their learning journey throughout the summer.

Planning A Summer Reading Program

Now that you know summer reading programs are effective, it’s time to consider how to plan one for your kids. The key is to make the program interesting and enjoyable for your children, as well as age-appropriate so that they can understand the material they are learning.

You should also consider factors like setting a goal (e.g., number of books read or pages read) and incentivizing participation (e.g., rewards or prizes). Additionally, make sure to include library visits, field trips, and fun activities related to the material in order to give your child something exciting to look forward to throughout the summer months.

How The Summer Reading Challenge Works

Choose A Theme

The first thing you need to do is choose a theme for your reading challenge. This is not to be confused with the types of books your child will read. They can read any book! The theme is what you will use when decorating for your reading challenge.

Our theme is BUGS. My girls are obsessed with collecting bugs and worms right now, and there are several variations I can do with this theme.

summer reading challenge theme

Define Your Challenge

Next- you’ll want to define the parameters of your summer reading challenge. Choose a start date and an end date. And then decide how often you want your kids to read each day. Our reading challenge starts on June 20th and ends on August 26th. My rising 1st grader, Ryan, will read for 20 minutes each day. I also have a 4 year old and we will focus more on reading daily to her, rather than a specific challenge.

I created a large caterpillar with 60 circles. I purchased these circles from Amazon, but you could always cut out your own too. These will be where Ryan writes down the titles of the books she reads each day. There are 68 days in our challenge, so this will allow for a few days to spare. Every 10 circles, there are tiny feet attached, which means Ryan will get a reward for her accomplishments on these days.

I also included ladybugs throughout our collage. Ryan will draw spots on the ladybugs each time she reads something that isn’t an actual book. Examples include, reading products at the store, reading signs while driving, reading recipe directions, etc. Each time she reads something, she can color in a spot on a ladybug. There is no specific goal for this- just encouraging her to get as many as she can!

Lastly, the flowers represent my younger daughter’s reading. We will fill in the flowers with titles we read to her each day. I purchased the flower cutouts from Amazon, but again you could make your own.

The girls can also get creative throughout the summer, adding butterflies or other bugs for decoration.

Reward Ideas

Choose from a variety of prizes for your summer reading challenge. You can pick up some items from Target Dollar Spot, the Dollar Store, Coupons for Ice Cream, the list goes on! Rewards will vary depending on the age and interests of your child, but here are a few ideas:

the best summer reading challenge for kids

Variations Of The Summer Reading Challenge

There are so many different variations you could try for your summer reading challenge. My specific challenge is designed for a younger child learning to read. For older children, you may want to increase the amount of time they read, lessen the books they read depending on length, or choose a different theme.

You can also switch up the guidelines of the reading challenge. For example, for students who already know how to read, you could give them two different lists. The first list would consist of what they read (chapter book, comic book, magazine, etc) and the second list would be how they read (to a grandparent, at the library, whispering, etc). Tell them to pair both lists and get creative 🙂

Strategies To Help Get Your Kids Reading

In addition to planning a fun and engaging program, it’s also important to consider strategies that will help get your kids interested in reading. Some of these may include:

  • Encouraging your child to pick books on topics they’re interested in.
  • Making reading a family activity by taking turns to read aloud or having book discussions.
  • Exploring different forms of media such as audiobooks and e-books.
  • Incorporating technology into the learning process with educational apps or online tutorials.
  • Leaving reading material around the house so it’s always in sight.
  • Turning off the screens so that kids can focus on reading.
  • Creating a special spot for kids to read that’s inviting and cozy.
  • Rewarding your child for completing their reading goals.
stack of books for kids

Online National Summer Reading Challenges

There are also a number of online national summer reading challenges available for children to participate in. These challenges are designed to motivate and inspire children to read throughout the summer, often with rewards for completing different levels of reading.

Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge

This program is designed to keep kids reading all summer long, with fun challenges and rewards along the way. To participate, kids can visit the Scholastic website to sign up and create their reading logs. Then, all they have to do is read and log their minutes throughout the summer. As they hit milestones, they can earn digital rewards and even a chance to win prizes like books or Amazon Kindle devices.

Click here for more details.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

This free program encourages kids in grades 1-6 to read eight books over the summer and keep track of them in a reading log. Once the log is complete, they can bring it into any Barnes & Noble store and pick out a free book from the selection provided. It’s a win-win situation: kids get to read and expand their minds, and parents get to save money on books!

Click here for more details.

Pizza Hut’s Camp BOOK IT!

Pizza Hut’s Camp BOOK IT! Summer Reading Program is a great way to get kids excited about reading during the summer months. To participate, parents can enroll their children in the program either online or through their child’s school. Once enrolled, children will receive reading goals and a special reading log. As they hit their goals, they can take their logs to their local Pizza Hut to redeem them for free pizzas! It’s a fun incentive to keep kids motivated to read, and who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza as a reward?

Click here for more details.

New York Times Summer Reading Contest

Middle and high school students are invited to tell what they’re reading in The Times and why. The contest runs from June 10 to Aug. 19. Each week, participants can choose any piece of writing – be it a novel, a memoir, or a news article – and submit a short blurb explaining why they loved it. The lucky winners will not only earn themselves a coveted spot in the newspaper but also a personalized book recommendation from one of the Times’ esteemed critics.

Click here for more details.

Half Price Books Summer Reading Camp

The program is designed to keep young minds engaged and excited about reading all summer long. Here’s how it works: kids select books to read at Half Price Books and keep track of their progress in a reading log. After reading for at least 300 minutes, they can turn in their log to receive a free $5 gift card to the store. Plus, they’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of ten $20 gift cards.

Click here for more details.

kids summer reading challenge

Overall, the benefits of a summer reading program for kids are numerous. By taking the time to plan an engaging program and incorporating fun activities and strategies into your child’s learning journey, they can gain more knowledge as well as build their confidence in tackling new material.

There are also a number of online national summer reading challenges available for participation as well as printables you can use with your program. With these tools and resources, you can make sure your child continues to learn and grow throughout the summer months!

I hope you and your family enjoy this summer reading challenge! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. And if you have fun reading ideas of your own, let me know in the comments below. Happy reading!

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