I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
May 19, 2015
Summer is approaching fast and as always, one of my top priorities is to keep my kids reading while they’re out of school. One thing I’ve learned as a parent is that kids generally don’t just LOVE TO READ all on their own- It’s up to us to help make it fun and appealing, and luckily I’m getting some FREE help this summer from some big name brands. Here’s a list of the best free summer reading programs and incentives you’ll find for your kids this year.
You should start, of course, with your local library — It probably has a great summer reading program with prizes and incentives for your children. My library is giving away free tickets to popular family destinations to kids who log their reading time this summer, as well as a tote bag. But don’t stop there! Check out these awesome free summer reading programs as well:
I was so excited to discover that Barnes & Noble has a summer reading program called Imagination’s Destination, which allows kids to earn a free book from the store once they’ve read eight books. All they have to do is record the books they’ve read in the downloadable Barnes & Noble reading journal, bring the journal into their local B&N store, and choose a free, age-appropriate reward book from the store’s Reading Journal list. My kids are going to be THRILLED about this program. We love Barnes & Noble! Get all the details and the PDF of the B&N reading journal here, as well as a downloadable kit with summer reading activities and teaching tips.
Books-a-Million will reward your child with a free Theodore Boone pencil case and pencil if he or she reads six books and fills out the summer reading form between now and August 16th. Full details can be found on the Books-a-Million website.
Scholastic is also holding a Summer Reading Challenge. On this site, kids can log minutes they’ve read, unlock 12 short stories written specifically for the challenge by authors like RL Stein, Maggie Steifvater and more, and earn other rewards.
I’m not a huge fan of Chuck E. Cheese, but my kids sure are- and I have to admit that this insidious animatronic rat has come up with a great way to get our favorite minions to do everything from reading this summer to keeping their fingers out of their noses. You can download and print all kinds of reward calendars on the Chuck E. Cheese site and bring them in once they’re completed for ten free tokens.
That’s ten games of skee-ball, y’all. I’m in.
Sylvan Learning has a free summer reading program, where kids can take quizzes on books they’ve read to earn points that they can exchange for free stuff. The ‘prizes’ are pretty lame- mostly e-books that your kids wouldn’t be interested in reading– but I’m totally using this program for the quizzes. I’m creating my own reading point system for the kids this summer, with incentives geared toward their own particular likes.
“Okay, Lindsay,” you’re saying now. “I know about all the summer reading programs now- Where do I find the books?”
Here are a few free children’s book options you might not have known about:
Amazon has lots of free e-books for kids that you can download onto a free Kindle app- Your kid can then read the e-book on any mobile device. Here’s a list of free Amazon e-books for kids– Be sure and check the categories in the left-hand sidebar to see all your options. I saw plenty that both my kids would love to read, including Minecraft and Ever After High books!
Nook from Barnes & Noble also has a fantastic selection of free Nook e-books for kids. There are TONS to choose from!
If your library uses Overdrive, you and your family should definitely be using it, too- Because of Overdrive, I probably read three times as many books now as I once did. Overdrive lets you check out e-books and audiobooks from your local library for 21 days, and if your library is anything like mine, Overdrive should have most of the books your child want to read, from the Magic Treehouse series to Harry Potter. The e-books are like real books- The library buys a certain number of copies and if they’re all checked out, you can add yourself to the hold list- You’ll be notifed by e-mail when the book is available for download. Since you only have 21 days to read the book, I’ve found I make more time for reading so that I can finish what I’ve checked out before my time is up. I’m betting your kid will do the same thing. I’ve also checked out audiobooks for my kids- We listen to them in the car on roadtrips and carpool runs.
If you have younger children, check out StorylineOnline.net, funded by the Screen Actors Guild, with videos of Hollywood actors reading popular children’s books. The videos are well-produced and engaging.
Need more ideas on how to turn your kids into readers? I wrote a post with my best tips not long ago for the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital blog. Check it out here: 10 Ways to Make Your Child a Reader.
And if you have tips, advice, or freebies of your own, be sure to share them in the comments!