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Are you looking for ideas to get your kids reading while school is out? A summer reading challenge can help. Read on to get some great ideas as well as some proven strategies to get your kids reading without a fuss.
Reading was a big part of my children’s summer. I can still hear my oldest chattering a mile a minute as he told me all about the game of Quidditch. That was the summer we discovered Harry Potter. Then there was the time my middle son shook with laughter as he read Bunnicula for the first time.
Books have magical properties don’t they? You can send your child to Hogwarts or let them hunt for treasure. You can invite them to travel through a wardrobe to a magical land or ride on the backs of dragons.
In a hurry?
Use this handy table of contents to jump straight to the section that interests you.
- Summer Reading Challenges For Kids
- How does the Summer Reading Challenge work?
- 6 Creative Summer Reading Challenge Ideas
- 5. Printable summer Reading Challenge Ideas
- Free Summer Reading Printable
- 6. On-Line Summer Reading Challenges
- Bonus: 9 Strategies to Help Get Your Children Reading
- Just For Fun
Summer Reading Challenges For Kids
A reading challenge is a great way to get kids reading. It also helps them learn how to use a library. For some reason children enjoy a challenge far more than working through a list of books.
And the best thing? Students are often challenged to read different types of text. This helps open you kid’s eyes to the idea that “reading is everywhere. How is that for a win?!
How does the Summer Reading Challenge work?
Basically you create a list of book categories or genres. Kids have to find a book in each category, read it, and record the read. Rewards can motivate, but somehow working through the different challenges appeals to kids. Some challenges also invite children to read in different places. Here are some different challenges that you might like to try this summer
6 Creative Summer Reading Challenge Ideas
1.The Book-Movie Reading Challenge.
First off we have the book-movie challenge. Lots of books have movie counterparts. Let’s be honest, a book inspired movie is rarely as good as the book. BUT a book- movie challenge is the perfect summer reading challenge idea for reluctant readers. Come up with a list of book inspired movies you know your kids will love. Explain that they can see the movie after they’ve read the book. Make the special family night
Tip: Teach Beside Me has a marvelous list of books that have been made into movies.
2. The Literary Award Challenge
Did you know that there are some prestigious awards for children’s literature? Some of them have been going for years. Two of my favorites are the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. The Caldecott recognizes illustrators. It is given to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Newbery Medal is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. You can choose to read the winners for particular years.
Perhaps you might choose the years that family members were born. Alternatively, read through the list and choose some years that mean something to you.
Download the list of Caldecott winners here
Find the list of Newbery Medals here
3. Alphabet Reading Challenge
Almost all libraries arrange their books in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. This makes it easy to do an alphabet summer reading challenge. Here are three possible ways of doing this.
- Find books with authors that start with the letters of the first and last name of each family member. My initials are SH, So I could choose books by Thea Stilton and James Howe.
- Work through the alphabet starting with authors that begin with A. How far can you go?
- Try an acrostic challenge. You might choose the words “Summer Reading.” Then find a book by an author of each letter.
the advantage of this kind of challenge is that it works for every reading level. You just go to the appropriate section in the library. Picture books, early readers, children’s fictions and young adult books are all organized by author.
Tip: some Libraries will organize books by type and it can be a bit tricky. Ask the library staff to help you find good books for this challenge.
4. Read Through the Decades
Have you ever seen those reality shows where a family experiences life through various decades? It is interesting watching the family adjust to living life in the 40’s and 50’s. Why not enjoy a summer reading challenge in which you read books from a different decade each week? What Do We Do All Day has compiled lists of children’s books for every decade in the 20th century. Starting with The Wizard of Oz published in 1901 and going all the way through to Catherine Called Birdy in the 1990s.
5. Printable summer Reading Challenge Ideas
There are all kinds of fun printable summer reading challenge ideas. All you need to do is download the files and print, so they are simple to set up. To help you I have created a free printable with 4 different reading challenges that will work for kids of all ages. Before we dive in, a quick caution about reading logs.
Use reading logs with care
I’m not a huge fan of reading logs, but this is a personal choice. Some children really get a real sense of accomplishment when they fill in their reading log. If that is the case by all means print one and use it. Other kids find them discouraging and tedious. We do not want to make reading a chore, so don’t hesitate to ditch that log if it doesn’t work.
If you do use a reading log try to log minutes read, rather than titles. At our library we noticed that children logging titles often read below their reading level, so they can log more books. Logging minutes read seems to encourage kids to read longer books. It also levels the playing field between children at different reading levels.
Free Summer Reading Printable
The printable is available in color or black and white. All the summer reading challenges are designed to record the time read. They also allow children a great deal of choice when it comes to the books. There are 4 different challenges.
Summer Reading Log to Complete
The first page is a straightforward log. Each day children fill in the date and log how many minutes they read. They can also note the title if they wish. When they finish the log, they can total up the number of minutes. Download a copy from the library.
Summer Reading Logs to Color
The second log is suitable for younger children. There are 12 books on a page and children are invited to color a book for every 5 minutes they read. When all the books are colored, they have read for an hour. You could offer a small reward for each sheet completed. Download a copy from the library.
The third log is the same idea. Children are invited to color in one box on the path for every 15 minutes read. By the time they reach the reading tree, they have read for 7 hours. There are stars along the way . Each one represents one hour of reading. Again, you could offer a small reward for each hour reached and something a little bigger when they have logged 7 hours. Download a copy from the library.
Summer Reading Challenge
The fourth log is a book challenge. Children are invited to find different kinds of books and read in different places. They cross out each square as they meet that challenge. Sometimes you can check off more than one square. Reading a book about pirates under the covers with a flashlight would cross off 2 squares. If you found one with a blue cover it would give you 3 squares. Have fun with this summer reading challenge. Download a copy from the library.
Tip: staff at your public library will help you find books if you are having trouble finding something published over 50 years ago or a book set in the future.
Download our FREE Summer Reading Challenges from the library. You’ll find them with Family Activities Printables
6. On-Line Summer Reading Challenges
A number of companies provide free on-line reading challenges.
Scholastic has a great summer reading challenge. Kids can join their reading community, attend on-line author events, enjoy book based activities and keep track of their reading in a digital reading streak. You can find all the information here.
Pizza Hut offers Book It and on-line reading challenge. Basically they encourage kids to enroll, read whatever they want and track it. If you child meets their reading goal for a month, they receive a coupon for a free personal pan pizza. Get the information here.
Barnes and Noble is offering a free book to any child that reads eight books and fills in the reading log. You have to pick the books from their lists though, which isn’t always the best way to motivate kids. Still you can find the reading log here.
Bonus: 9 Strategies to Help Get Your Children Reading
1.Turn off the screens
It’s pretty simple. When children can choose between screens and books they will tend to pick the screens.
Research indicates that engaging with interactive technology releases a flood of dopamine. This is the feel good chemical. So when your kids are interacting with a screen everything else seems boring in comparison. It’s not true of course, but the dopamine high skews perspective. Children (and adults) can quickly become addicted to their screens.
Turn off those screens and other activities will suddenly look a lot more enticing. There will be a period of withdrawal, but after a while your kids will turn to other activities to fill the gap.
Tip: Please be cautious about using reading as a requirement for screen time. The last thing we want to do is to make reading a chore that has to be done before our kids get their screen fix. Reading should be fun!
2. Let kids choose what they want to read
The 2013 Kids and Family Reading Report found that the kids who choose their reading material were more likely to finish their book.
You can make suggestions and leave interesting books around, but let children choose what they want to read.
Go to the library and allow your kids the freedom to browse and choose for themselves. You may find the books they pick tedious and predictable, but that’s okay. If you give your child control over their reading life this summer it will go a long ways towards encouraging them to read.
3. Leave reading material around the house
Practice the art of leaving good reading material around the house. You could put
- Children’s magazines on the coffee table
- Graphic novels and comics in the playroom
- An enticing new chapter book on their bed.
- An interesting non-fiction book on the kitchen table
- Set up a simple fort with a bed sheet. Place books and flashlights inside and let the fun begin.
4. Provide a variety of reading materials
Reading is a so much more than chapter books. Give your children access to a variety of reading material
- Graphic novels
- Children’s magazines
- Nonfiction books (these are particularly helpful for enticing reluctant readers)
Tip: Having plenty of reading material doesn’t have to be expensive. Visit your local library and you find all these kinds of materials and more. Try it all for free!
5. Create a special Reading Spot or Book Nook
A special reading spot sends the message that reading is important. It provides a quiet oasis that is free of distractions. Besides kids love dens and little nooks. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A pile of cushions in a corner or a blanket draped over a small table will do. Click here to read our post about making a book nook. We’ve gathered all kinds of ideas for making a cozy reading corner and have ideas for every budget.
6. Make reading a family affair
Sit next to your child and read your own book. Read the newspaper with your coffee. Pick up a magazine after lunch. If kids see the adults around them reading, they are more likely to keep reading well.
7. Show an interest in your child’s reading material
Take an interest in anything your child is reading. Talk to them about it. You can ask
- What are you reading?
- What’s it about?
- What do you like about it?
- Why not read some of the books your children are reading, so that you can engage in conversation about the book?
8. Use Your Library
Visit the library regularly. Give your kids the freedom to check out lots of books.
Is your child fascinated by Lego, dinosaurs, monster trucks? Go to the reference section and find some books on the subject.
Check out Amazon and find good titles, then go find them at the library. If your library doesn’t have them they can often bring them in from another library.We have a wonderful inter library loan program in Alberta.
Don’t forget most librarians can give you all kinds of suggestions if you are looking for a good read. Many libraries offer summer reading programs. These come with an array of free activities to keep kids reading during the holidays.
Just For Fun
Because we NEVER want to fold over the pages of our library books – right?
Red Ted art has written instructions for making these fun corner bookmarks. There are all kinds of designs. We have made these bookmarks at the library and kids LOVE them. I’m not sure what the appeal is, but they are a hit every single time.
Summer has really just begun. There is still plenty of time to get your children into some amazing books. A love of reading is a gift that will last a lifetime. That is something very precious.