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 summer reading programs. Programs vary by library.

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

All of our libraries also offer FREE Summer program and shows. Click here to see summer library events.

summer reading programs

Reading with the Rays

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

  • Starting June 2, 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!

Click here for more info on Reading with the Rays

Books A Million Summer Reading

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Challenge

This year’s BAM Summer Reading Ambassador is Jeff Kinney  – author of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Read 4 books from the Summer Reading Adventure Section in-stores and record them in your log (click here to print). These do not have to be Jeff Kinney books, see the Summer Reading Adventure list on their website. Bring your completed log back to Books-A-Million and receive a free drawstring backpack (while supplies last). Books-A-Million is located in Lakeside Village in Lakeland.

Click here for more details on the BAM Summer Reading Challenge

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summer reading programs

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Kids in grades 1 – 6 can 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 (print in 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 August 1 – 31, 2019. Find a Store. (Our closest stores are in Brandon & Wesley Chapel)
  3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

Learn more about the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

summer reading programs

Huntington Learning Center Free Summer Reading Adventure 2019

Join Huntington for a summer of reading and help prevent the loss of academic skills that can happen over the summer. Reading Adventure is the FREE summer reading program that challenges students to read all summer long.

Reading Adventure is held weekly on Tuesday evenings at 6:15pm for book discussions, comprehension activities, and crafts. June 11 – July 30 with an end of the year party on August 10 at 1pm – no commitment required, come for one week or every week!

For more details visit the Eventbrite page to register or call 863-701-9200

Huntington Learning Center is located at 6655 South Florida Ave, Lakeland, FL 33813.

Learn more at huntingtonhelps.com/center/lakeland-south

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Get Your Kids Excited About Summer Reading with Epic!

If you are looking for new ways to get your kids excited about reading and want unlimited access to THOUSANDS of kids books check out 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 over 35,000 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.

Want to know more before you sign up? We recently wrote a review of Epic – read more!

LIMITED TIME SUMMER OFFER – Get 3 months for only $3 – for up to 4 kids!
Click here and use code SUMMER19.

ABC Mouse

ABCmouse.com is the leading online early education curriculum for parents, preschools and kindergartens in the United States and Canada.

This award-winning curriculum offers over 8,500 books, games, songs, puzzles, and art activities. Each with specific learning objectives in the subjects of reading, mathematics, beginning science, social studies, art, and music, to go along with over 850 complete lessons across all subjects. ABC Mouse can be accessed via computer, tablet, or phone.

CURRENT DEALS:

Highlights Magazine & Activity Book Fun Packs

Highlights Magazine was one of my favorite things to get in the mail as a kid, and my own two boys still love the puzzles, hidden pictures, stories, and more. This is a great opportunity to keep them reading all summer! There are 3 different magazines based on age group – Hello for ages 0-2,  High Five and High Five Bilingue for ages 2-6, and Highlights for ages 6-12.

Highlights also has Fun Packs filled with activity books to keep your kids active and learning all summer long. Your kids can solve puzzles, unravel mazes, exercise their creativity, laugh at funny stories, follow step-by-step drawings and other activities.

Interested in a monthly shipment? Highlights has a monthly book club with topics like hidden pictures, puzzlemania, and the 50 States. Your first book is only $1 and then you’ll get a shipment approximately every three weeks for just $6.95 per Book, plus $2.98 shipping and handling.

Use the links below to save 25% off  Summer Activity Packs and 40% off a Magazine subscription!

Scholastic Books

Did you think Scholastic books were only available during the Book Fair? No way!

You can order Scholastic Books anytime from home! They carry award-winning books, toys, games, software & more, and their prices are always lower than what I can find almost anywhere else. Over 1,000 books under $5, and Free Shipping when you spend $25 or more. You can browse by grade, search for a specific title or author, or see a list of the most popular books.

Click here or use the link below to browse the Scholastic store.

Free Summer Reading Resources

  • Our local libraries! Getting a library card is free and easy. Simply visit any library location OR apply online. All you need is an ID and proof of a Polk County address. With a library card you can check out books, audiobooks, movies, and more from the library, and also access thousands of ebooks online. Click here to learn more.
  • 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
  • ABCYa.com 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.
  • ICanRead.com 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.
  • Sync offers FREE Audiobooks for Teens. Each week 2 new audiobooks will be available for download.

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!

  • JustReadBooksAloud.com – 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.
  • 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.
  • StoryTime for Kids – YouTube Channel

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

Lakeland Summer Activities for Kids

Be sure to check out our Summer Fun Guide for Summer Camps, FREE Movies, FREE Bowling, FREE Library Events & Activities, Swim Lessons, 4th of July Events, Reading programs, Online Camps, and much more!