2021 Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids

Check out the FREE 2021 Summer Reading Programs for kids!

It's that time of year again when we break out the list of free summer reading programs.  Since research shows that kids who don't read over their summer break actually lose some of the skills they've learned, it's important to find some creative ways to get kids connected to books.  Join a few of these wonderful programs that offer fun & free incentives for summer reading!


2021 summer programs for kids - reading and free books

2021 FREE Summer Reading Programs for Kids

It's time to start thinking about summer which means book lists, activities and fun ways to keep kids busy over the next few months (be sure you grab a copy of the FREE printable 100+ Fun & Free Summer Activities for Kids)! 

I'm always excited to see what libraries and book stores have planned for kids and there are a TON of really cool ideas this summer.  Just in case you're not familiar, keeping kids reading throughout the summer is a big initiative that teachers, libraries and educators encourage so kids are keeping those literacy skills honed. 

Get all the details for the popular summer reading programs, some of the most frequently asked questions and affiliate links for some of our favorite books and reading items -- and be sure to search locally for summer reading programs near you for additional regional summer programs for your city or area. 


Library Summer Reading Programs Near Me

First, check your local library for the 2021 summer reading activities! Many libraries will use the Collaborative Summer Reading Programs theme -- Tails and Tales!  which celebrates animals in literature! I'm sure libraries will offer lots of creative animal-themed activities and storytimes with this year's theme so check your local library calendar to see what might be coming to town.

With such a broad idea, you can encorporate so many types of animal-themed books both fiction & non-fiction. For example, this list of 15 Fabulous Books about Forest Animals is a great set of books to add to your summer reading list this year.

All libraries offer different incentives but most really hit it big over the summer to keep kids of all ages -- toddlers to teens -- reading and prevent the summer slide!If you like to have e-books available, download the FREE Kindle Reading app that can be used on almost any phone or tablet! 

Also be sure to sign up for the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited FREE Trial!!  Kids ages 3 - 12 will have access to all types of ebooks and audiobooks along with educational apps & their favorite learning tv shows too!

There's also a Teen Video Challenge again this year -- teens can create their own video to promote reading (60 seconds or less) and win prizes! 


Barnes and Noble 2021 Summer Reading Program

Kids in 1st - 6th grades can read 8 books this summer, download the 2021 reading journal & turn it in for a free book with the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program!


I love that B&N always includes both newer titles like The Last Last-Day-of-Summer and Other Words for Home along with classic books like The Tale Of Despereaux and The Borrowers (a few of our faves!) as some of their reading rewards!  So even if your kids are set on reading the same type of books all summer, they are encouraged to 'branch out' to something new when choosing their free item.

Kids can turn in their 2021 reading log between July 1st and August 31st to receive their free book.


2021 Half Price Books Summer Reading

Another favorite of ours is the Feed Your Brain summer reading program at Half Price Book stores however, they don't yet have their program updates online.  The Feed Your Brain summer reading program encourages kids ages up to 14 to read and turn in logs during June & July.  Younger kids can be read to while older kids who can read on their own will record their reading time each month.  

Both kids & teens earn Bookworm bucks (basically in-store gift certificates to use at local Half Price Books) to buy their favorite items!  Check their Feed Your Brain summer reading page for updates later this month.


free summer reading programs and books for kids

SYNC Free Summer Audiobooks for Teens

Once again, SYNC isoffering FREE audiobooks for teens beginning in May! Kids ages 13+ can download FREE audio books from SYNC each week during the summer - two titles are offered each week.

There are a wide variety of audiobooks available across different genres and themes so everyone should find something they enjoy listening to this summer.  And Yes! audiobooks are considering 'summer reading' too -- they help to increase vocabulary, comprehension and confidence!  The books offered are compatible with IOS, Android, Kindle and Windows.  ** Remember, these are YA titles so even if you have an advanced reader in the house, be sure to review the content so you know it's appropriate for your child.

Teens should check back each week for new titles but you can see ALL the offerings in the "Sync Season" tab on the right side of the main page.


2021 Scholastic Summer Read-a-palooza

Beginning in April, kids can register on the Scholastic Summer Read-a-palooza site to record their reading hours (this is a popular program with teachers & librarians who want to inspire kids to keep reading). Kids who read and record their hours will help to donate books to children living in areas with limited access to libraries so it's a great cause too!

One of the other reasons I LOVE the 2021 program is they are offering live online author events and writing activities this year so check out the schedule to see if your child's favorite author is featured!


Free Online Books for Kids and Teens

Summer slide is a BIG issue -- kids who stop reading over the summer months have a much harder time getting back into the swing of it (along with classroom learning) once school starts back up in the Fall.  So we've rounded up some wonderful places to find FREE ebooks and read alouds online for kids & families!

Audible.com has some AMAZING free books to listen too as they continue to offer a great variety of audiobooks for all ages. Choose from picture books, classics, chapter book series like Harry Potter and more!

If you're an Amazon Prime member, be sure to use your Prime Reading benefits for FREE books each month & to check-out books this summer!

Prime First Reads also offers members early access & one FREE book each month on Kindle (including children's books!)

PBS Kids has picture book read along videos each week with favorite authors & celebs - great for ages 3 - 6 years!

Storytime from Space has astronauts reading kids books with a great variety of STEM stories!


More Summer Reading Ideas

10 Books that Celebrate the Joy of Summer

10 Books for a Day at the Beach or Lake

10 Books for Your Next Camping Trip


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100+ Free Summer Activities for Kids