Summer Reading Programs & FREE Reading Resources

2017-06-15T01:15:50+00:00 June 15, 2017|Education, Summer Fun, Things to Do|

Every summer I start out determined to plan out our summer days, do lots of hands-on educational activities, and be sure the kids spend lots of time reading. And then as soon as the carefree, relaxed days of summer set in, my resolve melts faster than ice cream on a hot summer day.

Don’t get me wrong, we still do plenty of activities at home and out of the house, I just know we could be doing more, especially being consistent about reading every day. This year’s plan? An Epic! Subscription and  SUMMER READING PROGRAMS!

If you’re looking for new ways to keep your kids excited about reading over the summer, we’ve got a list of resources for you including FREE summer reading programs that allow your kids to earn prizes! There are also many great websites to use as resources for incorporating reading books with hands-on activities, writing prompts, mobile apps, and more.

FREE Summer Reading Programs {with prizes!}

Your Local Public Library

Make this your first stop for summer reading. All of the libraries in the Polk County Library Cooperative have kicked off their summer reading programs. Programs vary by library, some details are included in the master Summer Library Program list or you can check directly with your local library.

At the Lakeland Public Library kids room you can pick up a reading lanyard, bring it back each week and earn a limited edition button AND choose a new book for your personal library each week. {see photo}

Click here to see a full list of library locations in Polk County.

summer reading programs

Reading with the Rays

Kids can read to earn Rays prizes from libraries in Polk County.

  • Go to your local library to get your game card (If you’re wanting to do this program, pick up your card early – supplies are limited, we tried mid-summer last year and they had run out)
  • As you read, track your hours by rounding the bases on your game card and collect Rays rewards along the way. When you read enough hours to get to first base, ask your parent or guardian to initial your card; then bring it to your local library, where the librarian will initial your card and give you a reading reward. Bring your card back to the library for additional prizes as you reach each base.
  • Round the bases by reading a total of 24 hours this summer and receive two tickets to a Rays game!
summer reading programs

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Challenge

Read 4 books from the Summer Reading Challenge Section and record them in your log (click here to print). Bring your completed log back to Books-A-Million and receive a free Maze Runner water bottle. Books-A-Million is located in Lakeside Village in Lakeland.

summer reading programs

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Sign up for the free, online challenge and start logging your reading minutes. Take weekly challenges and enter sweepstakes. Kids can take weekly challenges to earn rewards and unlock new books. Program runs May 8 – September 8, 2017.

summer reading programs

Sylvan Book Adventure

A fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.

Click Quizzes at the top of the page and then enter the title, author last name, or book ISBN to see if there’s a quiz for the book your child has read or plans to read. Tip: Your child will need to be logged into their kid’s account to be able to take quizzes and earn points.

summer reading programs

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Kids earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:

  1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español). Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
  2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store
  3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

Free Summer Reading Resources

  • Start with a Book – if you’re looking to create a Summer Camp type experience for your kids that involves books, crafts, and any theme you can imagine, Start with a Book has all of the resources you’ll need.  If you have a young detective, explorer, artist, athlete or superhero at home or a child fascinated by dinosaurs, planes, bugs, birds, building, animals, the moon and stars, tall tales, music, money, nature, water, or thunder and lightning, you’ll find a summer theme that matches his/her curiosities and interests. Within each theme you’ll find:
    • A list of fiction and non-fiction books relevant to the topic, separated by age level
    • Links to instructions for hands-on activities you can do at home
    • Summer writing prompts
    • Relevant kid-friendly websites and mobile app
  • is both a website AND an app where children can listen to short stories read aloud to them as they follow along with the highlighted text.  ABCya! has a variety of educational games in addition to the featured stories.  Free resources and materials are available for grades K through 5.
  • National Graphic Young Explorer magazines are perfect for the young animal lover. Check out this website for FREE access. Kids can read the text on their own or press the speaker icon to hear the text read aloud.
  • is a website of activities with all your favorite book characters like Berenstein Bears, Biscuit, Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, Little Critter, Pete the Cat, and more. Filled with activities for kids ages 3-7 who are reading or listening to I Can Read books.
  • Book It has summer printables, book activities, Read the Book/Watch the Movie lists, and more.
  • PBS Kids has a variety of resources for parents to find fun and simple ideas to enhance your child’s math, literacy, and social emotional skills at home. You’ll find lists of books for boys, books for girls, as well as parenting tips and advice for daily life.

Books Read Aloud – Free Online Videos

There are SO MANY online videos and websites where you can find books being read aloud! These are a great place for children to listen to a story. Check out a few of our favorites below.

If you are using an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) or Android with Google Play, we highly recommend installing YouTube Kids as a place for your kids to watch the YouTube Channels listed below. YouTube Kids has filtered out adult content and adult commercials!

  • – an online library of over 700 videos of books being read aloud. Many well-known children’s books are on this website.
  • Storyline Online – videos of accomplished actors and actresses reading some of their favorite children’s books. Developed by The Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Perfect for having your children listen to a book read aloud. Each book also includes an Activity Guide you can download to go along with the story. You can find the books and activity guides on the website, or find them on Storyline Online on YouTube.
  • I Read Story Books is an online You Tube Channel with lots of popular books to choose from. If your child loves a certain character or superhero, you’re likely to find a book about them here.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK Channel on YouTube has quite a few children’s books – these will require you to search YouTube because the channel has a variety of other videos. Try searching “Barnes & Noble Nook Online Storytime” for the best results.
  • Reading Rainbow Channel on YouTube has Storytime videos, UTech videos about interesting technology and inventions, and Online Field Trips. (“I can go anywhere… take a look, it’s in a book, a Reading Rainbow!” – same one from our childhood!)

Get Your Kids Excited About Summer Reading with Epic!

I LOVE good deals, and officially have a new favorite online find – Epic! – a children’s book subscription service that will get your kids excited about SUMMER READING. Epic is an all-you-can-read eBook library your kids can take anywhere on a phone, tablet, or computer.

You can give your kids access to thousands of high-quality, well-known books for children ages 12 and under ALL SUMMER LONG. Whether your kids are learning to read, or reading to learn, Epic has books for every level of their reading journey.

A subscription to Epic is also perfect for summer travel– while it works on WiFi at home, you can also download new books for a long road trip or a flight to keep the kids entertained.

Click here to read our recent review of Epic.

 How do YOU keep your kids reading and learning over the summer? Leave us a comment below.

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