12 of the Best Summer Reading Programs of 2023


Summer is right around the corner and what does that mean? It means that you (hopefully) have more time to read! If you don’t, at least the children in your life do. Enter the best summer reading programs 2023 has to offer.

Kids are on summer break, and they have a lot more time on their hands. Reading is a great escape and chance to explore different worlds. But for kids and teens, reading can sometimes just be another thing on their to do list. After a school year filled with reading, it can be easy for young readers to take a step back and read less over the summer. However, this is a great time for them to exercise their skills, maintain them, and hopefully grow them. 

It can be hard to motivate kids to read, especially if they want to spend their summer doing something else. After all, they’re off school and want a break. That’s where summer reading challenges come in! There are many options available for middle school and high school readers. I’ve got a few of them here. Some are free, while others are paid. Some focus on reteaching and maintaining reading skills, while others provide some nice prizes as they track their reading. If you don’t like any of them, you can do it yourself with some tips I have at the end. 

Now let’s check some of the best summer reading programs in 2023!

Best Summer Reading Programs: 2023

1. Local Libraries and Libraries Across the County

Always, always, always check your local library to find what they do for summer reading programs. Many will offer a few prizes, a reading list, and fun challenges. If your local library isn’t doing much, check out the others in your area or county. For example, Maricopa county set up Maricopa County Reads, which is a summer reading program available across 65 libraries in the county. The program starts June 1st and lasts until August 1st. Last year’s program offered prizes according to points. Kids can earn points by reading and engaging in community events (in person and online). They can acquire prizes like a lemonade coupon, Arizona State Park pass, or a free book. They also have drawings for other prizes. 

2. Half Price Books Summer Reading Camp

This is a free summer reading program that starts June 1st and ends July 31st. The HPB Summer Reading Camp is all digital, so you don’t need to live close to one of their locations to access their resources. During the summer, they’ll provide reading lists and a variety of activities like this Camp Creativity bundle. If you’re interested, register at their website to get all the updates.

3. Camp Book It! With Pizza Hut

This one is also free, with resources available online. Camp Book It is simple: you set a reading goal and keep track of your reading progress. If you reach your goal for the month, you get a personal pizza. This is available for June, July, and August. You can also find some activities as you progress towards your goal.

Pssst…teachers, there are some Camp Book It materials for your class too.

4. Barnes & Noble Summer Program

Barnes & Noble provides a pretty hands off summer reading program! Just read a certain number of books and complete a reading journal to get a free book. This one is for kids in first grade through 6th grade. You can check out last year’s reading journal for a better idea of the reading goals. There’s not much information on the website, so I suggest you go to your nearest B&N and ask them about how they do their summer reading program.

5. Scholastic’s Home Base App for Summer Reading

You can go into the summer zone on Scholastic’s free app. The app provides books, games, music, and opportunities to connect with other readers. Kids read books on the app and earn digital experiences as they continue their “reading streak.” It’s available from May 9th to August 19th. Bonus: Scholastic will donate books as kids keep up their “reading streaks.”

6. AudiobookSYNC for Teens

AudiobookSYNC is a summer reading program that runs from April 27th to August 2nd. During this time, teens 13+ years old can enjoy two free audiobooks each week. This will be available via SORA (the student reading app). Once the audiobooks are downloaded, they are yours! One of the books will be Alice Oseman’s Loveless.

Many of these programs are great ways to get your students to read a variety of books, but what if you want something with more structure? What about reading intervention programs that help your child further develop their reading ability? I have a few of those below as well.

7. Fordham University Online Summer Program

Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies offers weekly online classes to help kids advance their reading skills over the summer. You can select a program based on the grade level they will enter when summer is over. The programs are focused on helping them gain the skills to be successful in the following school year. Additionally, students enjoy interesting books with exciting characters during their live lessons. To get more information and pricing, check out the classes offered and schedule.

8. Scholar Within

For another paid program that focuses on developing reading skills according to grade level, check out the Scholar Within. This one is also all online. This program is designed to help students read and maintain their skills with short lessons four days a week. This program provides a schedule that students follow throughout the summer. You can access these all online and fit into your schedule. This is good for reinforcing and reteaching those foundational skills like phonemic awareness!

If none of these options seem quite right for the kids in your life, you can DIY this summer’s reading challenge!

9. Utilize Local Library Ideas

Even if your local library doesn’t have a formal summer reading program, they often will have great ideas for adding some creativity to your summer reading challenge on their website, like offering museum passes. Ask your local library or museums to find out if they do any special events for children in the summer. Another option is to make a summer to do list or visit some landmarks.

10. Focus Summer Reading On Special Tasks

Instead of creating a list of books, create a list of activities or tasks — which will include reading a book — that your kid can check off throughout the summer. One example is telling your little reader to become an animal expert. Take a trip to the library, gather materials, and see how they read and read to become the expert you know they can be! A few other project ideas and the corresponding book can be found at the American Library Association website.

11. Create Your Own Summer Reading Bingo Card

You can find summer reading bingo cards online, or you can make a list of the types of books, genres, and authors that your child could benefit from. Better yet, have them create the list and make the bingo card together. A few examples are: read a book about a real person, read a book that takes place in a cold setting, and read a book about friends. You can download this one or use it for some inspiration!

12. Plan a Book Scavenger Hunt

This is a great idea to get your child in the library. You can create a book scavenger hunt where your kid must find certain books that match a certain description. Once they’ve accomplished the task, they could be rewarded by reading that book. Schedule a scavenger hunt every week or month of the summer to inspire more reading and increase knowledge of the library. Not sure where to start? Here are a few great scavenger hunts that you can do with older kids. Choose between exploring the fiction or nonfiction section. There are so many opportunities to personalize this and simply educate your child about the library and its resources.

When it comes to summer reading, there are so many choices. You can check out all the different challenges that provide prizes. Maybe you could sign your child up for a class. You also don’t have to choose: do a bit of both and add in several events to get them really excited about reading! For more ideas, check out 15 Excellent Summer Reading Ideas For Young Readers.

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