Summer Reading Plants Seeds, Reaps Benefits

I suppose if I had to make a list of 10 things I most hoped to pass on to my child, the love and enjoyment of reading would be on it. Don’t ask me about the rest of that list because it would take me some time to decide on my answer – and I’m not here talk about that today, I’m here to provide a quick and easy list of link love to some of my favorite summer reading programs for kids (as well as a few new programs Miss A and I have yet to try).

As I mentioned in my recent FFF, last summer Miss A really got into reading for pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, the girl has always loved books, and we had to slowly wean her from 5 bedtime books a night to 3 to the current 1 or 2 chapters. What I mean was last summer was the first time she could (and would) pick up a chapter book, find a comfortable spot,  and while away an hour or two just reading.  The girl zipped through many books, and made many new friends like Judy Moody, Ivy & Bean, Jack and Annie, and Violet in what turned out to be her favorite of the summer, a series of books called Pixie Tricks by Tracey West (who I learned also pens many of the Pokeman chapter books – who knew?!).  Miss A even put up a post (yes, she has had her own website since birth, we’re just ahead of the curve on that one)  about the series, and its main character, Sprite. While her love of  Pixie Tricks saw her through all eight books in the series, her reading momentum may have slowed down if it wasn’t for the many summer reading programs we were involved in throughout the months off from school. Many of these programs let kids chart their progress and offer incentives and rewards: from gift certificates to books to coupons to entries in big prize package sweepstakes. It’s not a bad deal when you can score free stuff for doing something you pretty much already enjoy anyway. And if your kid is not quite the happy little bookworm that Miss A is – the prizes and activities may just be the kind of boost your child needs to pick up a book.

Aside from the incredible delight that is scoring some Mommy reading time when your kid is reading too, encouraging summer reading can not only prevent the “vacation brain suck” teachers live in fear of, but it may also send them back to school ahead of the game. I know that was the case for Miss A.

So…free stuff, a kid who is happy, quiet and occupied with her nose buried in a book, and improved literacy skills – what’s not to love?

Below you’ll find a quick compilation of five summer reading programs, including links and a few thoughts on each.

1. Half Price Books Feed Your Brain This program is probably our favorite, though I must say I liked the set up better last year. The way it worked in 2010, every two weeks a child could turn in their reading log for a $3 gift card. At HPB, that three bucks can go a long way (one of the reasons we like them so much!). This year, you can only turn in one log for a $5 gift card. They are also awarding a “Top Reader” prize of a $20 HPB gift card to one reader in each age group.

2. Barnes & Noble Summer Reading With the B&N program, print a reading journal from their website and record your summer reading time. Read 8 or more books and you can exchange your completed journal for a free book – the proviso being the book is from a list of select titles. The issue I had last year is that they break these lists down by age, and the free books on Miss A’s list were ones she was not interested in. Looking over the list of free books for this year, nothing is popping out at me, but free is free and hopefully she’ll find a title on the list she likes. At the very least, parents can enter to win a Nook Color when the completed journal is turned in.

3. Borders Kids Reading Challenge Wow, has this bookstore had some drama since last summer. Their reading program isn’t awesome – but it might be worth the time if you still happen to have a Borders within a 50 mile radius of your home. Like the B&N program, read 8 books and record them on the reading worksheet (available on their website), but where the B&N program nets you a free book, Borders rewards readers with a coupon for 50% off – which would be really great if it was for 50% off a book of Miss A’s choice or something…but no…the discount can only be used towards the purchase of a few specific items (some of them kind of lame and most of them not even books) – what gives? I do still have at least two Borders within a reasonable driving distance…but we may not even bother this year. 50% off a How To Draw SpongeBob Squarepants Kit? We’ll pass.

4. BOOK IT! One of the dinosaurs of reading incentive programs, Pizza Hut’s Book It! program is  holding a Summer Break Reading Challenge Sweepstakes! (they really like their exclamation points). Read five books, then fill out the entry form available on their website for a chance to win a “slammin’ summer prize package!”

5. Scholastic Summer Challenge This program is a little more complicated with less up front tactile rewards. We didn’t participate last year, mainly because the sign-up process takes longer than a second or two, and I just didn’t have it in me to follow through. Check it out though if your kid is someone who enjoys setting goals and blasting through them. There is also a section for teachers and schools to create reading goals for a chance to be featured in the 2012 Scholastic Book of World Records.

Beyond the five listed above – which should be available nationally, if you have some independent bookstores in your home town, stop in and see if they are offering any kind of summer reading programs. Also, don’t forget to check in with your library: ours has programs not only for Miss A, but for Lil’ G and myself as well. I even got to pick out a free ARC of my choice when I signed up for the adult summer reading challenge – pretty cool!

So get a good book, find a nice place to relax, and escape for awhile. It’s a guaranteed happy ending.



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