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2021 Summer Reading Programs + FREE Reading Resources

Summer Reading

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? A Library Card, An Epic! Subscription and SUMMER READING PROGRAMS!

If you’re looking for new ways to keep your kids excited about reading during the summer months, we’ve got a list of resources for you including FREE summer reading programs that allow your kids to earn prizes! To go along with these programs, we have a separate article with places to find free and inexpensive books in Lakeland + Polk County.

FREE Summer Reading Programs {with prizes!}

Your Local Public Library

Make this your first stop for summer reading programs! All of the libraries in the Polk County Library Cooperative have summer reading incentives. Programs vary by library, we’ll update this once we have more info for 2021.

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

Reading with the Rays

Kids can track their reading to earn a prize from the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • Visit the Reading with the Rays website after May 30, 2021 to print your game card.
  • As you read, track your hours by rounding the bases on your game card. Ask your parent or guardian to initial your card as you reach each base.
  • Hit a reading home run by reading for 24 hours and you can receive Reading with the Rays prizes!
  • Email your completed game card to to receive your Reading with the Rays reward.

(In previous years there were prizes available at the library for reaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base, but that portion of the program is not available this year.)

Click here for more info on Reading with the Rays

Summer Reading Adventure Books a Million 2021

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Challenge – 2021

This year’s BAM Summer Reading Ambassador is Kate DiCamillo – author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and more. Read 4 books from the Summer Reading Adventure Section in-stores and record them in your log (click here to print – look for the Summer Reading Adventure banner at the top). These do not have to be Kate DiCamillo books, see the 2021 Summer Reading Adventure list on their website. Bring your completed log back to Books-A-Million and receive a free Because of Winn Dixie notepad (while supplies last). Books-A-Million is located in Lakeside Village in Lakeland.

Click here for more details on the BAM Summer Reading Challenge

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program – 2021

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 (Click here to print – look for the 2021 Summer Reading Journal link).
  2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between July 1 – 31, 2021. Find a Store. (Our closest stores are in Brandon, Wesley Chapel, & Tampa)
  3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the books list in the journal.

Learn more about the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Need new books to read for the summer? Check out our list of 15 places to get FREE BOOKS!

Summer Fun Guide

Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun for Summer Camps, Things to Do Around Lakeland, Things to Do at Home, Open Playgrounds, Places to Play Outdoors, FREE Bowling, Swim Lessons, 4th of July Events, Reading programs, Online Camps, and much more!