Summer Reading Programs for Kids 2013: Free Books, Gift Cards, Prizes + More

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Summer is a great time to foster a love of reading in kids, and luckily there are all kids of summer reading programs for kids to help you encourage your little bookworms. Some programs offer printable charts, prize drawings and even free books for participation, as well as resources for parents like book suggestions and ways to get kids fired up about reading.

Here’s our roundup of summer reading programs for kids. Please leave a comment if you know of any others and we’ll add them to this list.

Summer Reading Programs for Kids 2013

American Girl

Check out free printable activities, reading events, e-books and more from American Girl with their Read-a-palooza from May 1-August 26.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading program is perhaps the best deal of the bunch: Kids in grades 1-6 read eight books, turn the record in to their local Barnes and Noble store, and earn a free book (they can choose from several for each grade level).

I particularly like that the reading record asks them to whom they would recommend each book they read, and why. Limit one free book per customer during the course of the promotion, which runs from May 21 to September 3.

Chuck E. Cheese’s

Print a chart and record reading efforts every day for two weeks to receive 10 free tokens at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Offer expires 12/31/13.

Got to B…Junie B!

Sign your child up for the Junie B! Kids’ Reading Club to receive a Starter Kit which includes a free copy of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, exclusive activity pages, and a membership ID card as well as seasonal updates.

Half Price Books

With Half Price Books’ Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program, kids 14 and under read 15 minutes per day for a month to earn a $5 Half Price Books Bookworm Bucks Coupon. It looks as though kids can earn one free $5 coupon per month (June and July), but I recommend asking at your store just to be sure. The bonus coupons are valid through 8/28/13.

Mensa for Kids

Kids receive a commemorative certificate and a Mensa for Kids t-shirt when they complete the Excellence in Reading program for their specific ability-level segment. Find out more information on the Mensa for Kids website.

Old Spaghetti Factory

The Old Spaghetti Factory gives a free kids meal to every child who reads five books as a part of their Rewards of Reading program. I’m not sure if individuals can do this (or what sort of documentation is necessary) or if you need to participate as a part of library, school or community group. You can email info @ (remove spaces) for more information or call 503-225-0433.

PBS and iVillage

Sign your child up for the free 4-week Summer Reading Community Challenge sponsored by PBS and iVillage. Starting June 17, you’ll get daily emails filled with literacy-building tips, games and activities, printables and crafts, and a daily chance to win prizes.

Pottery Barn Kids

The Summer Reading Challenge at Pottery Barn Kids challenges children to read a list of specific books over the summer months. Kids will receive a prize after they finish reading all the books on the list. This challenge runs from May 16 through August 26.

Scholastic Books

The Scholastic Summer Challenge, in partnership with PBS Kids, involves registering your children on the Scholastic website where they can record their reading to win chances at prizes. The site also lets kids log reading time under their school name so that their school can compete with other schools.

Sylvan Book Adventure

Sylvan Book Adventure is ongoing, so it’s not specifically a summer program, but it’s worth mentioning if it will get your kids motivated. Book Adventure lists books to read, and when kids take short quizzes about the books, they earn points. The points can then be traded for small prizes like temporary tattoos or eBook downloads.

Walmart and Kellogg’s

Buy 2 specially marked Kellogg’s products at Walmart, then enter the codes at Kellogg’s Family Rewards to get a $5 coupon good for any book from Scholastic Book Clubs. There is no limit to the number of coupons you can earn.

Local Library Reading Programs

Summer reading programs for youth are also offered at a number of libraries throughout the Twin Cities metro area. The programs often incorporate prizes or free or low-cost events and entertainment along with logging reading to earn prizes. Libraries offering summer reading fun include the following:

Other Reading Programs (not available in MN)

Here are a few more reading programs that are not available in Minnesota, but may be available in your area:

Check out all of our Summer 2013 posts for more fun activities and opportunities going on this summer.

Your turn: How do you make reading fun during the summer months?

Photo credit craigemorsels


  1. Sarah says

    The Carver County library system also has a GREAT summer reading program. All of my kids earned a free book last summer and they have great free programing at all of their libraries.

  2. Emily White says

    For the Barnes and Noble program, where did you find the form. I looked at the link provided and couldn’t find the form. I also searched their site and couldn’t find it.

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