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.
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.
The following are few programs we found plus our own:
Become a BookHound with FFTC BookHounds Family Book Club Summer Program. BookHounds wants to help you read together, play together, learn together, meet together, and discover together. This summer we are hosting our first live summer program on Wednesdays, June 14-August 2 (with a break for July 4 week), 10 am-11 pm at Wishing Tree Play Cafe in White Bear Lake.
BookHounds is sponsored by Good Kids, Lu and Bean Read Podcast, and Wishing Tree Play Cafe. You can play with us live or enjoy the club online as well.
Bookawocky is the summer reading program that most of the MELSA libraries use. This year it has become more of an umbrella for the various programs each library is offering. Generally, the programs consist of library events, book recommendations and other incentives to read.
- Anoka County: Begins June 1st. Includes programs, events, read downs.
- Carver County: Begins June 1st. Includes reading challenges and activities.
- Dakota County: Begins June 6th. Separate Kids and Teens programs.
- Hennepin County: Includes book clubs, events and reading suggestions.
- Ramsey County: Not announced yet, but we’ll keep checking back.
- Saint Paul Public Library: Begins June 1st. Summer Spark Reading Program and Teen Summer Spark. Kids read for prizes. Events throughout the summer. Also look for Summer Reads – a one-on-one tutoring program, and the every popular Family Read Down.
- Scott County: Begins June 10th. Summer Spotlight – Free events and activities, read down.
- Stillwater: Registration has already opened. Includes live performances and movies as well as reading incentives.
- Washington County: Begins June 1st. Includes fun books, cool prizes and great events.
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 • Kids can log their reading minutes. Once they reach 300 minutes they can earn “bookworm bucks”.
- Red Balloon Reading Without Walls Challenge • The Red Balloon’s Reading Without Walls Challenge kicks off during Grand Old Day. Stop by to pick up a reading passport and learn more.
*Local, in this article, simply means that there is a physical bookstore located in the Twin Cities.
Online Summer Reading Programs
- Brightly Summer Reading Fun for Tweens • This is more of a summer reading aid than a summer reading program, but it is a nice tool to have. Brightly (which is part of Penguin Random House) offers reading lists, tips, activities and a Summer Reading Fun Pack to download.
- Scholastic Happy Camper Reading Program • This program started already on May 8th! Kids can earn rewards by logging reading minutes.
- Sylvan Book Adventure • I believe this is my favorite program. It holds kids accountable for actually reading the book with short multiple choice quizzes. If you read the book, you’ll know the answer. Parents can monitor progress, oversee prize selection and are offered resources for motivating kids.
- Sync Audiobook Program for Teens • This free summer audiobook program for teens gives away two complete audiobook downloads each week. This program started in April, so if you sign up now, you’ll have missed a few titles already.
Other Summer Reading Incentives:
- Chuck E. Cheese • Print off this Reading Rewards Calendar, mark off “every day that your kids is awesome” and your kid gets 10 free tokens. I guess the parent gets to decide what constitutes “awesome”.
- Library of Congress – A Book That Shaped Me • I was disappointed that this program is not offered in our area. However, I like the idea of kids writing a letter to a local librarian (or teacher) and telling them about a book that has made a difference in their world. So, I’ve added this, because maybe you would like to steal this idea, too.
- Minnesota State Fair • Don’t forget to finish off your summer of reading at the fair with Read and Ride Day.
We will keep our eyes open and add on to this list if we find other programs.