Our family has been reading like crazy this summer. My kids are five and seven years old. The seven-year-old has been reading on her own, while my five-year-old has been enjoying someone reading to him. Every summer we partake in our local library “summer reading program,” but this summer, we found a few more fun reading activities to do. 

Below is a list of fun opportunities for youth readers. I wanted to hurry and write this article because I just realized that some of these programs wrap up on 8/31, so there are only a few days left.

Multnomah County Library-

Multnomah County libraries have an annual “summer reading program” for Multnomah County residents. Families log each day that they read for a maximum of 45 days. At the end of 45 days, you have completed the challenge. The grand prize is a cool T-shirt. 

We also received 1) a Wunderland pass 2) a free personal pizza from Round Table Pizza and last, (but certainly not least!) a coupon for a free medium Slurpee from 7-11. The kids were so proud when they finished this and could not have been more excited for their prizes. There are options to start up the program in person at your local branch, or online. 

This program is available until August 31st. Here is the link for more info: https://multcolib.org/summer-reading

Barnes and Noble-

We literally just got back from the mall because we were grabbing our free books from Barnes and Noble for completing their “summer reading journal,” ha-ha. This program is for kiddos who are in 1st-6th grade. The requirements are to 1) read eight books 2) log the title of the book and the author, and 3) write down your favorite part of the book. 

Once the journal is complete: bring it into Barnes and Noble and pick out a book off a free list. There are varied books for different grade levels that are eligible. 

This program is available until August 31st. Here is a link to a pdf of the summer reading journal: https://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/h/summer-reading/2020/2020/SummerReadingJournal.pdf

Scholastic-

Scholastic “Summer Read-A-Palooza” is a reading program for kiddos. Kids track their “reading streaks” meaning how many days they have read in a row. The longer their reading streak, the more prizes and features they can unlock. 

Aside from reading streak accomplishments, kids can create avatars, play reading-based games, and take part in book donations to kiddos who have limited, or no access to books. 

This program is available until September 4th. Here is the link: https://www.scholastic.com/site/summer/home.html

Amazon-

O.K. I will admit that this incentive is not as exciting as the other programs I have listed. Amazon has a summer reading program that will give kiddos a “Star Reader Certificate” and a $1 off coupon for your next book purchase through Amazon books if your kiddos reads eight books. The closest local store I could find is in Washington Square. The address is: 9624 SW Washington Square rd. Portland, OR 97223. 

This program is happening until Sept. 2nd. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/summer-reading-challenge/b?ie=UTF8&node=17707783011

Chuck E. Cheese-

You learn something new every day! I had no idea that Chuck E. Cheese offers a variety of reward programs for kids that earn them free “play points.” There are rewards for 1) losing a tooth 2) potty-training 3) being a good listener and get this: a “no nose-picking” calendar! There are several of these different types of rewards, far beyond what I have listed here. The reading reward program requires kiddos to read for two weeks and they will earn 10 play points. 

This program is good until 12/31/20. Sadly, it looks like the Portland Chuck E. Cheese is temporarily closed. But the Beaverton location looks to be open. Here is the link to the reading-specific reward: https://www.chuckecheese.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/lsm_reading_rewards_calendar_208a5c2f9ffce6486a892db3657b5fdb82.pdf?sfvrsn=109c1859_1

Weareteachers.com-

This suggestion is not a reading reward program, and it does not give prizes, but it looks extremely fun and engaging! This is a reading challenge that can be printed. It is a “color-in reading challenge.” The worksheet has different tasks such as: 1) read at a park 2) read to a stuffed animal 3) read a newspaper 4) read a book your friend likes, and so on. The child then colors in each task that they have completed. Along with a worksheet is a bookmark. Both these items are free downloads. 

I can see how this would be super fun for a kid. I would have loved it when I was little. Here is the link to the info and downloads: https://www.weareteachers.com/coloring-reading-challenge/

Brightly-

Brightly is a website that is geared toward families who want to “raise kids who love to read” (brightly.com, 2020). The website has a section for “summer reading challenges” for kids of various ages. There are activities designated for: ages 3-5, ages 6-8, ages 9-12, and teenagers. Although there are not prizes involved, the challenges promote reading and youth engagement. 

Here is the link for more information, and the downloadable challenges: https://www.readbrightly.com/summer-reading-challenges-for-kids-teens/


Many of us have spent more time at home than usual due to the pandemic. This “new normal” started around March and does not seem to be going away any time soon. I have found that reading with this extra time at home has brought me a lot of peace. Reading to my kids—and with my kids—feels like a great way to spend quality time. There is a ton of research to support the idea that it is beneficial for children to develop a love of reading and practice it regularly. Here is a link to an article that lists fifty benefits of “early reading”: https://ferstreaders.org/resources/fifty-top-literacy-statistics

Best of luck to you all in developing strong, young readers in your families! These summer reading programs are a great opportunity to get started.

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