Where do your kids fall in the summer reading spectrum? Whether they love to read or hate it or are somewhere in between, there is probably a program out there for them. If they are ambitious, they can participate in several. There is no rule that kids can’t use the same books for several programs.
A couple years ago, I did some research on the reality of the income-based achievement gap and how parents can Increase their Child’s Chances in School with a few Simple, Budget-Friendly Habits. Summer reading is another place where the achievement gap grows. However, the fix is offering your kids easy access to a lot of books and empowering them to select their own reading materials. This is where summer reading programs can come in handy.
Summer Reading Programs
At Twin Cities Libraries
- Anoka County Library: Summer Adventures, June 1 through August 15, 20201.
- Carver County Library: Tails and Tales Virtual Summer Reading Program, June 1 through August 35, 2021.
- Dakota County Library: Summer Discovery 2021 starts June 14th.
- Ramsey County Library: June 1- to August 14, 2021. Participants sign up for a Beanstack account and receive a free book bag and book, while supplies last.
- Hennepin County Library: Summer Learning book suggestions and events.
- Saint Paul Public Library: Summer Spark includes virtual programs, story strolls and Take-and-Make kits. Earn a free book. June 1 – August 31, 2021. For ages 0-18.
- Scott County Library: Summer Spotlight June 5 though August 28, 2021. Both in person and virtual events,Readmobile, activity packs, weekly to-go kits, and bonus book for kids who complete their goals by July 17th.
- Washington County Library: Summer Adventure, June 1 through August 31, 2021. Get started with this game card.
Summer Reading Programs
at Local Book Stores
- Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program: Kids can earn a free book by reading eight books over the summer.
- Half Price Books Feed Your Brain: 2021 details TBA.
- Red Balloon – Pick up or print a Summer Reading Bingo Sheet. Once you complete a bingo, stop by the store for prizes.
- Wild Rumpus Books: Use this Summer Reading Journal to keep track of all your reading.
Got a Reason to Run to Wisconsin?
- Books A Million Summer Reading Adventure. This year, Minnesota’s own Kate DiCamillo is the Summer Reading Ambassador. Read 4 books from their recommended summer reading list for a free copy of Because of Winn-Dixie. (Participation in this program will require a Road Trip to Eau Claire to pick up your prize.)
*Local, in this article, simply means that there is a physical bookstore located in the Twin Cities.
Online Programs To Encourage Reading
- Brightly Summer Reading 2021 Print a Summer Reading Bingo Card.
- DOGO Books Summer Reading. 2021 TBA. The 2020 program offered summer practice in both reading and writing. Kids can read books and write reviews. The more reviews a child writes, the more they increase their odds of winning a prize.
- The Good and the Beautiful. Get a free PDF, print the reading log, stickers and bookmarks. Then parents can provide a prize of their choice.
- Good Reads 2021 Summer Reading List. This list is best for teens and adults who read because they love it.
- Lu & Bean Read – Summer Book Hunts. Lu & Bean Read‘s 2017 Summer Book Hunt Checklists are still available to print. I don’t believe they are still offering prizes. However, the Scavenger Hunt encourages kids to find and read books about summer (ie: a book about the sun); and the Treasure Hunt challenges kids to search out award winning books.
- MENSA Excellence in Reading Program. This is my new favorite, although it is not technically a summer reading program. MENSA offers printable reading lists for kids in 4 proficiency categories ranging from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Once a child has completed every book on the list, they can mail in the form to get a certificate and t-shirt. I really love the book selections and want to make this a goal, even though it is unlikely the older kids could finish in a summer.
- Pizza Hut Camp Bookit. To help increase reading time during the summer months, parents can sign up to receive weekly emails with summer reading activities. Set monthly goals and track daily progress. Kids can earn a free Personal Pan Pizza.
- Reading Rewards. This is a fun idea. Parents set up an account where kids can log their reading. The more they read, the more RR miles they collect. Parents create a “store” where kids can cash in their miles for rewards. These can be anything the parent wants – movie night, family game nights. Maybe you could even have a really big reward for a big goal, like, “If you read 10,000 books this summer, you can earn a puppy” or whatever.
- Scholastic Summer Read-A-Palooza. This program runs April 26 to September 3, 2021! Kids can earn digital experiences by logging reading minutes. They also offer author events and book-based games and activities.
- Sylvan Book Adventure. I believe this was my favorite free program. However, it is now a subscription program: After the first free month, the subscription costs $43.74/year for 1 child or $74.98/year for up to 5 children. This is a little steep in my opinion, but may be worth it for many parents because of the extra activities, quizzes and reporting that come with it.
Other Incentives for Reading in the Summer:
- Minnesota State Fair. Don’t forget to finish off your summer of reading at the fair with Read and Ride Day. This year it is Wednesday, September 2nd. Bring your library card to get discounted tickets and other specials.
- St. Paul Saints Reading Tree. Is currently on hold. However, they hope to bring it back later in the 2021 season. Arrive early for Sunday games to have a story time with players and local authors. Learn more.
- South Minneapolis Loves To Read: Neighborhood kids 5-18 can sign up online for free, pick up a reading log at their local Lower South Minneapolis rec center, & record reading minutes daily in July & August. Prizes for the top reader in each age group.