Summer is here and although some kids would prefer to dive into a good book instead of a swimming pool, others may not feel the same way. Even though school is out, summer reading is a great way to keep kids’ brains refreshed.
Summer reading doesn’t have to be boring! Several places and organizations have come up with ways to make it FUN. To some kids, reading comes easy. But to others, it can be a little more of a challenge. Here’s a list of some fun programs to get kids excited about summer reading no matter what skill level they are.
Batter up! The Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay-area libraries, Suncoast Credit Union, and the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education Program have teamed up and created a lineup of free summer reading fun. Designed to reward and encourage students for reading, kids can visit their local library to pick up their game card or download one here. The rules are simple: choose your favorite books or favorite section of the Tampa Bay Times to read over the summer and track your hours by rounding the bases. Collect rewards each time you get on base. Make it to home plate and receive a ticket voucher for a Rays home game!
Reading with the Rays is available to kids grades pre-K-12 in Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties.
From June 1-July 31, kids can win books and cool technology-based prizes when they log their reading and attend select live virtual events such as Storytime with the Animals featuring ZooTampa, STEAM Time: Geology in Motion, and Aquatic Superheroes and Comic Book Sea Creatures. Participants of all ages will have the chance to win tickets to ZooTampa, Bluetooth speakers, gaming consoles, headphones, and robotics.
To log reading and activities, unlock digital badges, and get story recommendations, kids, tweens, teens, and adults can register with Beanstack. Reading on the go? Download the Beanstack app on Google Play and Apple. You can also take pics and submit your library stories when you earn an activity badge and attend a library event.
There will also be virtual visits from three notable authors! Authors Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie), Kate Messner (Ranger in Time), and Greg Neri (Grand Theft Horse) will be hosting online meet and greets throughout the month of June.
Have a little animal lover at home? The Humane Society of Tampa Bay gives children who love animals a chance to spend time with them while improving their reading skills.
Their Paws for Literacy program takes place at the shelter every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:45pm-4pm. Children are paired with homeless pets who love to hear the stories and look at the pictures. The program offered for children ages 5 and up. They’ll provide reading stools, books and treats (for the animals). Children are also welcome to bring their own books if they wish. Books provided include animal tales, stories of the animal-human bond and books that teach empathy to young readers. The program is supervised by a Florida state-certiﬁed teacher.
Barnes & Noble has a summer program that makes it easy for kids to earn free books. Read a designated number of books, write about your favorite part in the B&N Reading Journal, and bring a completed Journal to your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Kids can choose a free book from the list on the journal and collect it from the store during July and August.
The nostalgic BOOK IT! program is still going strong! From June-August, student ages 4-12 can enroll in the free, digital program and track their reading to receive a certificate for a Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut.
The Scholastic Summer Reading Program offers kids an exciting, free, and safe summer reading experience while helping to provide books to kids with limited or no access to them. Through August 19, kids can visit the summer zone on Scholastic Home Base. This free digital destination offers stories, characters, and games. Kids will be able to join a community of readers, read books, attend author events, interact with favorite characters, and more.
They can track their summer reading by reading daily and maintaining a Reading Streak in Home Base to earn fun digital experiences. By keeping Reading Streaks in Home Base, kids will help unlock a donation of 100,000 books from Scholastic to Save the Children. Home Base can be downloaded online or on Google Play and Apple.
Earn Chuck E. Cheese rewards while reading books! Parente can download the Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendar to track their kids’ reading. Simply track their progress on the printable incentive charts and bring a completed calendar to your local Chuck E. Cheese to receive 10 free play points or tokens.
If your child is between the ages of 5 and 9, you can get them a FREE subscription to LEGO Life Magazine! The magazine will be delivered directly to your home five times a year. Though it’s not the same as following a story along in a book, magazines are a great way to motivate kids to read without feeling overwhelmed.
There’s a ton of awesomeness packed into each issue of the magazine. Challenge yourself with super fun LEGO activities and read along with LEGO character comics. There are also building instructions using classic LEGO bricks you already have at home. LEGO builders can even submit pics of their creations to be featured in a future issue!
Don’t forget – now through August 14, you can get a tax exemption on qualifying children’s books! Happy reading!