by Leslie Fobbs
Oh, Summer. I’m so glad you’re almost here! During my childhood in Northeast Ohio summer meant sitting along Copley Road for the West Akron parade, walking to Mr. Pantries for Jo-Jos and candy, and weekly trips to the library to turn in our book list for the summer reading program. I was an avid reader and loved the independence I felt leading my brother and sisters down to the library to get more books. Now I enjoy taking my son, and I’m glad he’s finally caught a passion for reading just like I did. As a homeschooler, I’m excited to see what programs are now available to win rewards and prizes. I’m sure the lure of free stuff will motivate Dee to read even more.
In my search, I’ve found 16 ways to get your children reading this summer, including 13 specific programs that work well for homeschoolers.
Barnes & Nobles Summer Reading
Get a free book before the summer even begins. That’s right! If your child, grades 1-6, reads eight books and documents them in the journal that B&N provides they can turn it in any time from mid-May to September and receive a free book from their featured list (found with the journal here).
Pizza Hut's Book It!
Join the second generation of book and pizza lovers! Pizza Hut has the largest and longest-running corporate supported reading program. They have been encouraging kids to read since 1984, including myself! Kids grades K-6 may earn a Reading Award Certificate for a free one-topping Personal Pan pizza when they reach their reading goal each month. This goal may be whatever suits the child’s abilities from the number of reading minutes to the number of pages read, or even how many books a parent has read to those children who are not yet independent readers. Book It! is not a summer program, but enrollment has just opened up for the 2018-2019 program year, that goes from October to March. Homeschooling families may enroll here and have the materials sent to them sometime in August.
Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge
Scholastic keeps children engaged by allowing them to log onto the new website to track their reading minutes, take fun weekly challenges, and earn rewards. At the end of the summer, they may enter sweepstakes to win prizes. This program appears to geared only to schools since a child must receive access from an educator, librarian, or community organizer. However, parents may register as an educator and indicate their homeschool status to get access for their children. Click on the ‘Print’ button for home access to get their log-in information. You may even want to register with your homeschooling group or co-op to compete for most minutes read in each state. Begins in May and runs through September. Check out the details and register here.
Feed Your Brain - Half Priced Books
Encourage your kids to feed their brains this summer. Kids 14 and under who read or are read to at least 15 minutes a day may log their reading time during June and July to earn a gift certificate for every 300 minutes logged. Parents must initial each entry. Bring the log to your local Half Priced Books to claim Bookworm Bucks. Download the log sheet.
It pays to read this summer! Veritas Press is a Christian homeschooling curriculum company that holds a summer reading contest by grade level. Each student is encouraged to read a certain amount of books with a page count based on their grade. Once they have completed their appropriate number of books, students must submit an online form. The first 250 submissions will receive a $10 gift certificate. All submissions will then be entered into a prize drawing for $150, $100, and $70. Starts in early May and the online form must be submitted in September. Click here for more info. Download the book log here.
Chuck E. Cheese
Get rewarded not just for reading. Chuck E. Cheese has calendars on their site for reading, completing chores, and other behaviors. For instance, read a book every day for two weeks, record it in on the reading calendar, and get 10 FREE Tokens at your local, participating Chuck E Cheese’s. Token rewards may be redeemed once per child, per day. A food purchase is required.
Just for the teens! SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+. SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week - pairs of high-interest titles, based on weekly themes. In 2017, 32 titles were given away over 16 weeks. You must download the OverDrive app in advance to listen to the books.
*Some of the titles cover mature topics that may require parental discretion.
Bookworm Wednesdays entitles kids to free admission to a select children's film when they present a book report at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas box office. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six years of age receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report. Available in CT, MA, NJ, NY, OH, and RI only. Runs July through August.
Department of Defense
Have Book- Will Travel by the Department of Defense. Military families are invited to participate in MWR libraries’ summer reading program at military bases and installations worldwide. For more information or to sign up, email DoDsumread@navy.mil.
H-E-Buddy Summer Reading Club
Once your child reads ten books, log them on the form with your initials and mail it in for them to receive a free t-shirt from H-E-B. Runs through the beginning of October for Texas residences only.
Lifeway Stores Summer Reading Quest
Read six books over the course of the summer and memorize six Scripture verses. Turn in a completed summer reading journal at your local LifeWay store to earn a free book and a free Bible. This program is geared towards grades 1-6, but all are welcome. June through August.
Six Flags Read to Succeed
An exciting program that encourages students in grades K through 6 to read for fun. Students who complete six hours of recreational reading earn a free ticket to Six Flags! The program is available to teachers and schools (including individual homeschool families) at no cost to participate, and it's a great way to motivate kids to read. Runs through the school year and tickets are awarded in early May.
Summer Reading Program at TD Bank
Encourages students in grades K-5 to keep their reading skills sharp during summer vacation, and also help them save money. TD Bank deposits $10 into a new or existing TD Simple Savings account when each child completes their own reading challenge of ten books. Inquire directly with the bank.
All of these companies have great ideas and programs for motivating children to continue reading throughout the summer, but perhaps they don’t suit your child. Here are a few other options:
Check out your local library!
Just like I mentioned from my childhood, most libraries have a summer reading program that offers prizes and rewards for reading. See what your’s has to offer.
Search Local Businesses
There are most likely other local business and organizations not listed here that have summer reading programs as well. To find them simply Google “summer reading [your city or state].”
Make Your Own Reading Challenge
Some kids love reading and will pick up a book on their own. Others need some encouragement. However, only you know your kid best. Are they driven in some other way or by something other than shiny objects and discount offers? Is there some specific toy or treat that they request a lot? Awesome! Decide the time frame and the best way to challenge them whether it be by the number of books read or the amount of time spent. Then create a log or chart to keep track. You set the rules to get them reading as only you can.
Finally, throw a kick-off event to get them started, and a big finale to celebrate their wins. Not only will it challenge your kids, but you also! Be an example and read alongside them or even to them. It’ll make those long summer days go by with the fun and adventure of imagination.
Have I missed any? What summer reading programs does your family participate in?