Nor'adila Hepburn | 

11 Kids Summer Reading Programs: Get a Freebie at Barnes & Noble + More

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When summer comes, I find myself scrambling to keep the kids entertained with free things to do and to keep them away from screens if I can. Thankfully, there are kids’ summer reading programs to help me during these school-free months. And even better, they give kids some awesome freebies just for reading. Earing things like books, reward badges, pizza, and more.

We’ve put together a list of options for your summer that reward kids of all ages for reading. So in between doing science experiments at home, learning to code, or even just giving their brains a break, your kids can also learn to enjoy reading by reaping the benefits of diving into as many books as possible this summer. So who offers these free summer reading programs? Here’s our list.

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1. Get a free book with Barnes & Noble’s Reading Program.

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program welcomes children in grades 1 – 6 to join in the fun. Encourage your child to select eight books from their personal collection, borrowed from a library, or purchased from Barnes & Noble. They can then complete the provided printable reading journal. Once your child finishes reading, simply return the journal to your nearby Barnes & Noble store between July 1 and August 31, 2024. As a reward, your child will be able to choose a free book.

2. Participate in the Chuck E. Cheese Reading Challenge to get 10 free Play Points.

When your child reads every day for two weeks, they’ll earn 10 play points in the Chuck E. Cheese Reading Challenge! This one takes place year-round. It’s worth noting that you must make a food purchase to redeem your reading challenge worksheet for the 10 free points.

3. Earn $5 in Bookworm Bucks when you join the Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Camp.

Have your kids read and record their minutes with a reading log from Half Price Books’ website. After 300 minutes of reading, they’ll earn $5 in Bookworm Bucks that work just like gift cards. This one is open to all kids 18 and under. The program starts June 1 and reading logs must be in by July 31 to earn the $5 Bookworm Bucks.

4. Earn digital rewards through Scholastic’s Summer Reading Program.

From now until September 12, children can join the Scholastic Summer Reading Program. They’ll get exclusive access to Scholastic Home Base, filled with books, live events, and entertaining games designed specifically for kids.

As part of this program, young readers will be motivated to keep track of their reading streaks. The more they read (and the longer their reading streak) the more digital fun they can unlock and access. This program also helps donate books to kids who don’t have access to books in rural America.

Parents can download Scholastic Home Base or get the free app for iOS or Android.

5. Get a free baseball cap during the annual Books-A-Million summer reading program.

This year, kids can earn a free water bottle by reading four of the selected Summer Reading Adventure books from Books-A-Million. Choose four books from their pre-selected collection, fill out the printable log book, and return the log to your local BAM! store for your free baseball cap.

6. Local public libraries offer reading programs and prizes.

Most public libraries offer summer reading programs for kids and even activities like storytime.

We’ve seen libraries set goals for the number of minutes read and prizes for hitting the goals. We’ve also seen libraries give points for every book checked out that could be used towards winning weekly prizes. Most libraries have summer reading programs, but the rules and details will vary.

You can also ask your local library about the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Each library sets up their own incentives for this program, so check with yours. You can also set up your own incentives and read along at home.

7. Turn in a book report to Showcase Cinemas and watch a movie for free.

Bookworm Wednesdays is a reading program designed to inspire young children to read books throughout the summer. Kids receive free movie admission to a designated children’s film of their choice each week. All they have to do is present a printable book report at a participating box office of Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas.

Bookwork Wednesdays will return in July

Parents or guardians who accompany their children, as well as children under six years old, can enjoy free admission without the requirement of submitting a book report.

8. Tell your teachers about reading programs like Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT!

Pizza Hut’s Camp BOOK IT! is open to all families with PreK-6th grade students (ages 4-12). This parent-lead reading camp allows you to set goals, track reading, and reward your students, in a digital dashboard. When your child reaches their goal, they will receive a certificate for a free Personal Pan Pizza at participating Pizza Hut locations. Find out more information about the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program, which starts October 1, 2024.

9. Teachers, enroll your students in the Panda Express Read With Me program.

Enroll your students in the Panda Express Read With Me reading program online. Each student will have a goal of reading five books. Once each child reaches their goal, they’ll get a coupon they can redeem (in the past we've seen free meal coupons) for freebies at Panda Express. This reading program is recommended for elementary school students who are reading, typically grades Pre-K/TK – 5th grade (ages 5-11).

10. Earn a free T-shirt with the Mensa reading program.

Mensa offers a free t-shirt when your child takes part in the Mensa Excellence in Reading Program. Your child can print the list that best meets the level of their ability or interest, regardless of age or grade level. Once printed, be sure to record the date the books were read and their rating by hand. Electronic logs will not be accepted. Once your child has read the entire list of books in their list, the reader and an adult will need to sign it and return it and the t-shirt order form to the Mensa Foundation at the address provided.

11. Choose a free book to keep or donate with Kellogg’s Feeding Reading Program.

From now until October 30, 2024 kids can earn a free book for every eligible Kellogg’s product you purchase with the Kellogg’s Feeding Reading program. Just purchase any participating product, upload each separate receipt (up to 10), and select a book of your child’s choice to keep or donate. Receipts must be uploaded by Oct. 30, 2024, and free books must be selected no later than Nov. 15, 2024.

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