Free Summer Reading Programs – 2014

Free Summer Reading Programs 2014 - Toddling Around Chicagoland

A version of this post previously appeared on Mommy Nearest.

After a long and cold winter, we’re all looking forward for summer to begin and for our kids to get the chance to swim, run and play outside. While these physical activities are a big part of the warm weather season, it’s also important to make time for reading when school ends for the year.

Studies have suggested that children lose as much as two months worth of instruction during the summer break, but regular reading can minimize the “summer slide”.

Below are summer reading programs for kids that encourage them to continue reading (many with incentives!) once the final school bell rings this spring.

American Girl: Read-a-palooza 

  • Download printable activities and excerpts
  • Free Summer Reading Bookmark Craft events at the Chicago American Girl store from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on June 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and August 5, 12, 19, 26 for girls ages 8 and up

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading: “Imagination’s Destination”

  • Print out a reading journal and bring it into a Barnes and Noble store
  • Read 8 books and receive a free book
  • Locations in Chicago, Arlington Heights, Bloomingdale, Bolingbrook, Crystal Lake, Deerfield, Deer Park, Evanston, Geneva, Joliet, Lincolnshire, Naperville, Oak Brook, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Skokie, Vernon Hills, and West Dundee
  • Barnes and Noble also has a Kids’ Club that offers members a discount on a single item, a birthday treat, and a loyalty program.

Book Adventure, sponsored by Sylvan

  • Register online
  • Take quizzes based on the books you read
  • Earn points to be used toward prizes like temporary tattoos, ebooks, or a magazine subscription

Books A Million: Summer Reading with John Grisham

  • Download a summer reading form
  • Bring the form to your local Books a Million location when you’ve read 6 books on the list and receive a pencil case and pencil
  • Locations in Aurora, Chicago, and Chicago Ridge

Chicago Public Library Summer Learning Challenge: “Explore & Roar”

  • Starts June 9 and runs through August 2
  • Drop-in program for children 13 and under
  • Kids are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes each day
  • To complete the challenge, kids read, discover, and create
  • Children who complete the program receive a book bag, and there will be raffles for free books, an eReader, and a tech package

Chuck E. Cheese’s Rewards Calendars

  • Print out a Reading Rewards calendar (or any of the reward calendars)
  • When two full week’s has been marked off, bring it in to Chuck E. Cheese for 10 free tokens

Half Price Books: Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program

  • Download a reading log and bring it in to the store
  • Receive $5 in HPB Bookworm Bucks when you read 300 minutes in one month
  • One reader will be chosen at random each month to receive $20 in HPB Bookworm Bucks
  • Reading tips and free printables are also available on the site
  • Locations in Algonquin, Bloomingdale, Countryside, Highland Park, Naperville, Niles, Orland Park, Palatine, Rockford, and Schaumburg

Open Books: Summer Reading Bingo Challenge

  • Online or in store
  • Print out a customizable Bingo card and create your own rewards, or pick on up at the Open Books in River North and win used books

Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Spark Your Greatness Summer Reading Challenge

  • Register online
  • Read 5 books or complete challenges (with photos posted to Instagram) to be eligible an entry into a giveaway for prize packs including Pizza Hut gift cards and Wimpy Kid books
  • Printables and resources available for parents

Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge

  • Kids who read 8 books from the Summer Reading Challenge Book List by July 31 will receive a free book at participating locations (while supplies last)
  • Free Story Time events at stores on Tuesdays from 11:00-11:30 am
  • Locations in Chicago, Deer Park, Oak Brook, and Skokie

Random House: Got to be Junie B. Kids’ Reading Club

  • Register online to receive a parent newsletter by email
  • Download printables, including a membership card and reading log, sticker sheet, and activity book

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: “Reading Under the Stars”

  • Online registration and reading log
  • Earn virtual badges and downloadable book chapters by logging minutes and completing weekly challenges
  • Link to your school (optional) to track total minutes read by the student body

You can also visit your local library to find out about their summer reading programs.

What is your favorite summer reading program? How do you encourage your children to read?

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