The Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids of 2024

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Is your child struggling with matching their school’s required reading level? Do they enjoy reading? Are they in dire need of a palette of school material for the summer? Then this is the article for you.

Students can take a summer reading program and improve their reading capabilities, raise their reading level, or have something to do between sleeping and playing outside. And for those who are low on funds, don’t worry—these summer reading programs are free and readily available to all who need them!

Our Favorites for Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids

There are so many free summer reading programs to be found, both locally and online. We have selected three of the best summer reading programs we can find, ones that will not only keep your child engaged in the beautiful world of books and literature but keep them busy during the hot summer months and prepare them for the upcoming fall school year!

At Your Local Library

The very first program you should try is almost always at your local libraries. With a strong sense of community and a staff dedicated to advancing children’s knowledge, there is going to be a summer reading program suited for children who are ready and willing to learn and pick up a book for a few weeks. Of course, they cannot keep reading the books forever, which may put pressure on them to read quickly and then forget, but libraries with dedicated reading programs will guide your child through their check-out time.

Libraries are close, run by people who love reading, and are a safe place for your child to get immersed into reading various topics, from fantasy to science-fiction to mystery to non-fiction.

Barnes & Noble

The quintessential bookstore brand, Barnes & Noble, has a dedicated summer reading program for young children. They recommend reading lists by grade level, so students from grades 1 – 6 each have an opportunity to learn as adjusted to their specific grade level. Students who are a bit behind or a little ahead on their recommended skill level can take a quick peek into the other grades’ lists.

Barnes & Noble gives the student a series of instructions—reading any eight books and recording them on their patented Summer Reading Journal, then returning it to a Barnes & Noble store before the end of summer. When they complete their journal, they will collect a free book from the predetermined list. While this program does not give away books, it does give your child a useful yet not at all limiting way to be rewarded for trying new books and literature!

Barnes & Noble also has a broad selection of summer reading books that highlight the host releases for new authors and installments so that both parents and children can enjoy a new book over the summer.

Reading is Fundamental

Reading is Fundamental is the United States of America’s largest non-profit organization for children’s literacy. They are dedicated to uplifting the literacy and reading potential of students all over the country. With their patented program Soar Into Summer Reading!, they offer a variety of resources and activities to keep even the youngest, most active reader focused on a book for all summer.

Like many summer reading programs, Reading is Fundamental has recommended book lists by grade level, from kindergarten to second grade and third grade to sixth grade, making Reading is Fundamental’s program an ideal selection for younger students.

The book lists include classics such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The program also offers specific activities to get your children active in the world of reading outside of gluing their eyes to the paper. For example, one activity involves reading Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared while reading up a word search puzzle so that the student may play a game while they’re reading.

Finally, Reading is Fundamental also offers instructions on how to start a book club so that your child may get engaged with their friends or soon-to-be friends and share something in common with a good book.

We figure that these selections are some of the best to offer, whether it’s local or across the world wide web, but we have just a few more suggestions if you are still feeling curious!

Runner Ups for Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids

While these selections did not make the top three, we want to mention them anyway. If the above picks are not to your liking, then these summer reading programs may be right up your alley! Just because they’re runner-ups doesn’t mean they are losers!

Junie B. Jones Book Club

The bestselling series Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park gets its fans and young students together and a newsletter. Parents willing to sign up for a long-form but still free subscription can get their kids to join the Junie B. Kids Club. Sign up today to get your child an exclusive free membership card and an activity log for your child to catalog their favorite bits and moments of the Junie B. Jones series.

Scholastic Summer Reading

The incredible Scholastic offers a summer reading program that will not just keep your kid invested in their reading material but allow them to donate books and help children around America who are in dire, desperate need of a good book to read.

You can sign your child up to Scholastic Home Base and allow them to join a community of other reads to share books stories, play games, and attend events featuring famous and bestselling authors. Engage in Scholastic Parents Night and meet up with other reading parents and watch interviews and virtual panels with beloved authors, as well as receive recommendations for books both you and your child will enjoy.

Finally, during the same time, Scholastic will be running the Summer Reading Book Fair so that your kids can get together with friends and classmates and get access to new free books at fun and exciting venues. Now they don’t have to sit cooped up at home all day!

Half Price Books’ Summer Reading Camp

Half Price Books offers another avenue for a more literary student. The Summer Reading Camp arms your child with a free activity log and at least fifteen minutes every day to get the absolute most out of their selection of books. Once your child logs in over 300 minutes, they will be handsomely rewarded with, including but not limited to, exclusive Half Price Books perks, a $5 coupon on any Half Price Books, and valuable tips and printable book lists that will foster interest in a broader selection of literature.

Value Picks for Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids

As for our final selection, we have one more summer reading program we would like to recommend. This pick is a little more special than the others: not only will your kid be reading, but they’ll be eating too (just don’t let them read with pizza in their hands!).

Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! Program

Since the eighties, Pizza Hut is dedicated to encouraging reading nationwide. Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! Program aims to motivate students from pre-K to sixth grade and homeschooled children alikw to read new material. Students who enroll in the Book It Program will see their academic work rewarded with Pizza Hut exclusive rewards such as redeemable tickets for eating free pizza! Even the makers of delicious pizza are interested in getting its young customers up and reading.

How to Choose the Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids?

You may find yourself dizzy by our exciting and varied selection of summer reading programs. Or perhaps you and your child may have additional issues besides money, like getting to these programs.

Depending on how your current living situation is, as well as the needs and desires of your child, there are certain things you need to look out for when joining a summer reading program to get the maximum out of your time and effort. If you cannot get over large distances over the summer, you may need to look for programs that are done online or over short distances. If you do not have the time to get your child actively involved in a program, then look for ones that may give them assignments to do on their own, during their downtime (whenever that is for a child!).

Be careful about how in-depth these programs or assignments are: no kid wants to be stuck reading over the summer when they have to go back to reading the next school year. The best summer reading programs for any student makes reading seem less like work and more like fun.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids

The best free summer reading programs for kids will get your child into the world of reading outside of classrooms or assignments. We can only hope that this article has pointed you to the most convenient and helpful programs, and we promise that the fruits of this labor will be worth it.

Because you read this post, may also like our other book reviews here:

> The Best Folktale Books for Kids

> The Best Science Books for Kids

> The Best Holocaust Books for Kids and Young Adult Readers

> The Best Short Stories for High School

> The Best Graphic Novels for Middle School

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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