Summer is the perfect time to encourage kids to read books and hopefully love it too! I’ve created a fun summer reading program for kids that you can use right at home and customize to your own family. There’s even a free printable chart!
I grew up with my nose always in a book, thanks to my mom and grandma passing down their love for reading. But I distinctly remember one thing that help to really foster that love of books – a summer reading program at our local library.
We earned coupons for free ice cream cones as a reward for reading and the more we read, the greater the reward. My siblings and I really wanted that ice cream, so we read a lot. It was great incentive for kids and it was simple for my mom.
Now that I have my own kids, I’m hoping to pass down that love of reading to another generation. So far, Nathan’s been bitten by the book bug (he devours books like there’s no tomorrow) and Emily is fast behind him.
The town we used to live in didn’t have a summer reading program. Technically they did, but there was no rewards – “the reward was reading itself” the library said. Um, that’s kinda lame when you’re trying to encourage our tv-video game-internet addicted culture to foster the love of reading.
Let’s face it – kids, just like us adults, need a little motivation!
So my husband and I made up our own little summer reading program for the kids with a simple chart and reward system.
Our kids loved it. And I loved how simple it was.
This year, I’ve created a new summer reading chart for the kids and they’re just as excited as me to use it.
How To Do a Summer Reading Program for Kids:
A summer reading program for kids can be so much fun and is a great way to encourage kids to love reading. Use this handy free printable for your kids and you’ll be amazed at how much they’ll read!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Right click, save the image below, and print. Make sure your printer is set to “landscape” printing.
Or Download your Summer Reading Chart here
Print one chart for each child and add their name to the top. You can even open the chart in PicMonkey and add the names using a fun font!
There’s a few ways you can do a summer reading program and I recommend you personalize it for each child based on their reading skill level.
My oldest, Nathan, is 12 and reads anything he can get his hands on. He’s also very fast, so it’s no big deal to read one or two novels in a day.
On the other hand, Emily is a newer reader and it will take her longer to read a chapter book than her older brother.
Joshua (he’s finishing kindergarten) is a beginner reader so he will also be on a different schedule than his siblings.
And Luke isn’t reading at all, but I’ll be reading plenty of books to him this summer.
Decide how many books you want each child to read in each reward tier.
Nathan will have 10 books, Emily will have 2-3 novels or 5 shorter (level 3 or above) books, Joshua will do 5 of his short readers, and Luke will probably have 5-10 books read with Mom.
Assign awards for each child.
Here’s a few ideas for rewards:
- something from the dollar store
- ice cream cone
- a new book (we visit our local used book store)
- personal pizza
- even money, like $1 or something small (this may appeal to older kids)
- special privilege – example: reduced chores for a day
- something special with mom or dad – ie a trip to the store alone or a favorite activity (Emily loves baking with me)
- dollar bins at Target
- as a bigger item for LOTS of read books at the end of the summer, maybe a smallish toy they’ve been wanting
- a family ice cream sundae party at the end of the summer
I recommend writing the rewards in the summer reading chart so the kids can see what they’re working toward. You could also use (affiliate links) stickers (an ice cream or pizza sticker, etc.) for more fun or even print and tape on some clip art pictures from online.
To mark the kids’ progress as they read books, use stickers or avery dots (I had tons leftover from our move last summer).
Or you could make a simple star or check mark with a colored marker.
For fast readers, like my 12 year old, you may want to require them to give you a short synopsis of the book to make sure they actually did read it. (I figured this out when Nathan reported 5 books read in one afternoon.)
A summer reading program for kids can be so much fun and is a great way to encourage kids to love reading.
Don’t think of it as one more thing to do this busy summer – the rewards themselves should be good incentive to get the kids reading without you needing to constantly remind them!
And I’ve found that sometimes the mere fact that one child was close to reaching a reward gave my other kid incentive to read more!
Whatever you do, summer is a great time to encourage kids to read and making your own summer reading program is a great way to do it!
Want to track what books your kids are reading? Download our free printable summer reading log set here!
Filed Under: Activities for Kids, FeaturedTagged With: free printable, kids, reading, summer
Take aim at the "Summer Slide" and get your students excited about reading with these titles picked specifically for kids at the second grade reading level.
The Adventures of Taxi Dog
by Debra Barracca, Sal Barracca, Mark Buehner (illus.)
Jim, a New York City taxi driver, rescues a stray dog and dubs his new pet Maxi. Maxi accompanies Jim in his taxi and meets all sorts of people. With each new passenger, Maxi makes a new friend -- and even helps Jim get tips! The text is written in a bouncing rhyme, and Beuhner's paintings capture Maxi's doggy personality and Jim's geniality. Can you find the cat in every picture? Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Book Series)
by Peggy Parish, Fritz Siebel (illus.)
Meet Amelia Bedelia, the unflappable maid who does everything literally. With her purse on her arm and hat firmly on her head, Amelia Bedelia follows instructions to a T: Change the towels? Nothing a pair of scissors can't do! Dust the furniture? That's when the perfumed dusting powder really comes in handy. Dress the chicken for dinner -- well, do you want a boy chicken or a girl chicken? Amelia Bedelia's well-meaning gaffs cause readers to chuckle but her employer to fume -- it's a good thing she's such a good cook!
The Case of the Spooky Sleepover, Jigsaw Jones Mystery #4
by James Preller
Ralphie Jordan can't sleep. Something is making spooky noises in his room at night. It's a perfect case for Jigsaw Jones, who pieces together all the ghostly clues.
Chicken Soup with Rice, A Book of Months
by Maurice Sendak
"Each month is gay, each season is nice, when eating chicken soup with rice." It's nice in January, April, June, and December -- here's the every-month dish for everyone to remember.
by Jeff Brown, Steve Bjorkman (illus.)
Stanley Lambchop is a nice, average boy. He leads a nice, ordinary life. Then one day a bulletin board falls on him, and suddenly Stanley is flat. This turns out to be very interesting. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to stop crime. He's flat, but he's a hero!
The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein
A little boy befriends a tree. Loving and generous, the tree provides everything she can for him -- fruit, shade, a place for a swing -- throughout the boy's life. He, in turn, takes from the tree without noticing the sacrifices she makes. It isn't until he's old and infirm and gratefully rests on her stump that he understands all she has done. This powerful parable is fitting for all age groups.
The Great Kapok Tree A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
by Lynne Cherry
A man walks into a lush rain forest and starts chopping down a huge kapok tree. Lulled by the heat, he sits down and soon falls asleep. The forest dwellers approach, each whispering in his ear a reason to keep the tree standing. Suddenly, the man wakes up, and for the first time notices the beauty all around him. Will he still chop down the tree? The beauty of Cherry's art helps to convey an important message in this environmental tale.
Is Your Mama a Llama?
by Deborah Guarino, Steven Kellogg (illus.)
A young llama is curious -- are all his friends' mamas llamas? Each animal tells Lloyd facts about its mother, and Lloyd -- along with young readers -- guesses what kind of animal each mother is. The rhyming text and illustrations give hints, and preschoolers will enjoy yelling out the answers, which are revealed by turning the page.
Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, Junie B. Jones Series #12
by Barbara Park, Denise Brunkus (illus.)
Frustrated because the rules for her class's Pet Day will not let her take her dog to school, Junie B. Jones considers taking a raccoon, a worm, a dead fish, and other unusual replacements.
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
by Kevin Henkes
Lilly the mouse adores her teacher, Mr. Slinger -- until he takes away the purple plastic purse she was proudly showing off to her class. Lilly is so angry she draws a nasty picture of Mr. Slinger and slips it in his bag. At the end of the day, Lilly gets her purse back and inside is a sympathetic note and a bag of treats. As in all his other books, Henkes shows an incredible sensitivity to children's feelings.
Martha Blah Blah
by Susan Meddaugh
When the current owner of the soup company breaks the founder's promise to have every letter of the alphabet in every can of soup, Martha, the talking dog, takes action.
Mrs. Katz and Tush
by Patricia Polacco
In this special Passover story, Larnel Moore, an African-American boy, and Mrs. Katz, an elderly Jewish woman, develop an unusual friendship through their mutual concern for an abandoned cat named Tush. Together they explore the common themes of suffering and triumph in each of their cultures.
by Janell Cannon, Jewell Cannon
Stellaluna, a little brown bat, is accidentally dropped by her mother. The helpless baby falls smack into a nest of fledglings and is immediately accepted as one of the family. Stellaluna tries to fit in but keeps acting unbirdlike, hanging upside down and wanting to fly at night. By chance Stellaluna is reunited with her mother and finally learns to be a proper bat.
Tonight on the Titanic, Magic Tree House Series #17
by Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (illus.)
The Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie away to the decks of that ill-fated ship, the Titanic. There they must help two children find their way to a lifeboat -- while they are in danger of becoming victims of that tragic night themselves.
You Can't Eat Your Chicken Pox, Amber Brown
by Paula Danziger, Tony Ross (illus.)
Amber Brown has survived third grade -- even though her best friend, Justin, moved away. Now she's heading to London with her Aunt Pam -- and then to Paris. Before she gets there, Amber finds out she has chicken pox. Amber Brown is a kid with problems. Now that she can't go to Paris, how will she convince her dad to move back in with her mom?
Zelda and Ivy
by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Zelda and Ivy are sisters with a flair for the dramatic. Whether they're performing a circus act, fashioning their tails in the latest style, or working wonders with "fairy dust," their exploits are described with wit and charm in a very special trio of stories exploring the intimate dynamic between an older and younger sister.