Twin Cities Summer Reading Programs – 2020

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.

The following are few programs we found in 2019. We are updating 2020 as they come in:

Twin Cities Library Summer Reading Program

Bookawocky Summer Reading Program

Roseville library

Bookawocky is the summer reading program that most of the MELSA libraries use. This is where you can find links to the various programs each library is offering. Generally, the programs consist of library events, book recommendations and other incentives to read. If your library is not listed below, check the Bookawocky link.

Most of the libraries publish their summer reading program information in May.

Dakota County Library. 2020 Info coming.

Ramsey County Library. 2020 Info Coming.

Hennepin County Library 2020 Info Coming.

Saint Paul Public Library 2020 Info Coming.

Washington County Library. 2020 Info Coming.

Summer Reading Programs through MELSA libraries

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. Program runs
  • Half Price Books Feed Your Brain • Kids can log their reading minutes. Once they reach 300 minutes they can earn “bookworm bucks”.
  • Red Balloon Summer Reading Bingo •  2020 Info Coming.

*Local, in this article, simply means that there is a physical bookstore located in the Twin Cities.


Online Summer Reading Programs

  • 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.
  • 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 Challenge to download.
  • DOGO Books Summer Reading • This program offers summer practice in both reading and writing. Read books, write reviews. The more reviews a child writes the more the increase their odds of winning a prize.
  • Dr. Seuss Word Challenge • Keep track of words read with the Word-Counter-Upper to help reach the combined goal of 20 million word. Enter to win prizes. (Note: When signing up, make sure you put in an adult birth year and not your kid’s birth year, or it will not let you sign up at that time. After making this mistake, I came back a day later and was able to try again.)
  • Lu & Bean Read – Summer Book Hunts • Lu & Bean Read‘s 2017 Summer Book Hunt Checklists are still available to download. 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.
  • Pizza Hut Bookit Summer Reading • To help increase reading time during the summer months, parents can sign up to receive weekly emails with summer reading activities. P.S. We do have a local connection to this program — Kate DiCamillo is their literary partner.
  • 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 Magical Summer of Reading Program • This program started already on April 8th! Kids can earn rewards by logging reading minutes.
  • 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.
  • 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 the 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”. There are other rewards calendars in this program, too.
  • Thursday Rockin Readers at Nicollet Commons • On Thursdays, local principals stop by for a story time before a family-friendly concert.
  • Minnesota State Fair • Don’t forget to finish off your summer of reading at the fair with Read and Ride Day, which is Wednesday, August 29, 2018.
  • Reading Logs • For kids who like to write it all down, pick up a reading log or journal, like the one pictured below from Amazon.
Chart summer reading in a reading log

Amazon affiliate link

*Amazon links are affiliate links and Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on any purchases through our site.


We will keep our eyes open and add on to this list if we find other programs. 

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