Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids + Free Books

A lot of activities may be canceled this summer, but one thing is definitely not: reading! These retailers and local libraries are encouraging children’s love of learning by offering free summer reading programs. Enjoy a beautiful summer day reading outside, or curl up with a good book and a blanket on a rainy day inside. Start a virtual family book club, or have your little ones practice reading to a grandparent over video chats. These summer reading programs will cultivate a lifelong love of reading — and encourage your child to track their progress to earn fun prizes.

2020 Summer Reading Programs

Retail Summer Reading Programs

Barnes and Noble
Fill out the Summer Reading Journal and bring to your local B&N store. Choose a FREE BOOK from the selection on the Reading Journal list at the store.

Half Price Books
Feed Your Brain program has gone virtual this summer. This program is designed for both kids and teens. Share your reading log on social media to be entered for prizes.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Kick-off summer reading with their free resources! With book lists and reading logs included, your child will be able to monitor their progress this summer. Check out the videos on their website featuring read alouds with favorite authors and animated book excerpts!

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Local Resources for Remote Learning and Homeschooling

BAM! Books-A-Million
Choose any 4 books from the Summer Reading Adventure section in stores or online. Write about the books read in the Summer Reading Adventure notebook. Share completed notebook with a store associate and receive free Dog Man logo baseball hat.

Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards
Download and print reading rewards calendar. Read every day for two weeks straight and bring in completed calendar to receive 10 free play points.

Book It Program
To help increase reading time during the summer months, this program brings kids summer reading activities. Parents can enroll their individual child, learn more about the books and download the activities associated on their website.

SYNC Free Summer Audiobook Program for Teens
Free summer audiobook program for teens 13+. SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week – pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes. Sign-up to get notifications when the free audiobook downloads are available.

Book Adventure from Sylvan
Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read their own or library copy offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success. Start your reading adventure today! There is both a paid and free subscription available.

Great America’s Read to Succeed
Students in grades K-6 who read 6 hours of recreational reading can apply for one free admission ticket to Six Flags Great America.

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Horseback Riding for Kids

Library Summer Reading Programs

Local libraries are a great starting point for summer reading programs. In the past, my kids have received all sorts of fun incentives from our local library such as new books, coupons to use at area restaurants and even tickets to a minor league baseball game! Some libraries, such as Naperville, even open their programs up to non-residents as well. Libraries that are currently promoting summer reading programs are:

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Fall Music Classes and Free Open House at Mattix Music Studio

Don’t see your town listed above? Check your library’s website. As libraries are reopening, programming is constantly changing, and updates may have been made after June 2, 2020.

Ways to Get Free Books

Various apps and websites offer free books. A few of our favorites are:

Our network of libraries in the Chicago area is incredible. Take a look at the amazing ones our readers voted for in our Top 10 Best Libraries for Kids.

Don’t forget – you don’t have to go to the library to take advantage of the resources offered! Be sure to check out the Kidlist guide to Letting the Library Come to You. Whether reading online, or taking advantage of curbside pickup at your local branch, your local library should be your first stop!

If your kids are in a book rut, try our Favorite Kids Books list for a little inspiration.

About the Author

Katie Mayle
Katie is a mother of two girls and a baby boy (ages 6.5, 5, and 1.5). A Joliet native, she and her husband moved back to his hometown of Naperville after the birth of their second daughter. Her three kids keep her family very active, and she is grateful for the countless indoor and outdoor opportunities available to families in the western suburbs. She looks forward to sharing family-friendly fun with the parents of young children.

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