Kick off Summer Reading Season

Trials of Apollo

It’s the 20th anniversary of Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Program, and we’re celebrating it in style! Each summer Barnes & Noble gives young readers the opportunity to earn a free book by reading three books and completing a journal about the books they’ve read. It’s a great way to encourage kids to make reading a priority during the summer months, and this year we’re making things even more fun and exciting with the introduction of a Summer Reading Triathlon! For more details, visit can also follow along on social using the hashtag #BNSummerReading.

School’s almost out for summer! Your kids may be ready to kick off those lazy, hazy days with a big bonfire fueled by their textbooks, but that doesn’t mean they should be kicking reading to the curb for the next three months. There are lots of ways you can help encourage reading, prevent the summer backslide, and continue to instill a love of books in your kiddos. Check out our list of suggestions for keeping reading on the books for the summer.

1. Have a reading night. Make it like a movie night with all the fixings—popcorn, cozy pillows, maybe even a theme—and have the family all together in one room reading either individually or listening to one person read aloud to the whole crew.

2. Check out a brand-new book from a favorite author. Some of our forthcoming favorites include Rick Riordan’s The Hidden Oracle, the first in the new Trials of Apollo series; or Mo Willems’s The Thank You Book, a new Elephant & Piggie book.

3. Bring it to the table. Add one very important question to your evening dinner conversation: What are you reading? Go around the table and let everyone answer.

4. Make a weekly trip to your local Barnes & Noble. The lack of structure during the summer can sometimes be daunting for parents and kids, but knowing you have at least one weekly book-related outing to count on can really help. Plus, it incentivizes kids to think about what they want to read next.

5. Get your kiddos to keep a summer log of all the books they’ve read. Even if it’s not required for school, it’ll be cool for them to have a visual of just how much they’ve accomplished over the summer.

6. Have a daily D.E.A.R. moment. Take turns with who can call for “Drop Everything and Read” time, and then spend 30 minutes—or however long works for you and your family—stopping in your tracks and reading.

7. Subscribe to a kid magazine like National Geographic Kids, Highlights, or American Girl Magazine.

8. Come up with a family reading challenge for the summer. It could be a reading Bingo card, a passport, or even a simple sticker chart. Just be sure to come up with a reward for the winners.

9. Stock the game cabinet with some word-related games, like Scrabble Junior, Boggle, or Bananagrams.

10. Keep some audiobooks on hand for long car rides.

11. Let reading be its own reward by letting the kids stay up an extra half hour to read.

12. Load up your tablet with reading apps.

13. Read the book together, and then see the movie in the theater. Some upcoming page-to-screen releases for the summer include Alice Through the Looking Glass and The BFG.

14. Or read the one of the tie-in books after you’ve seen the movie. Lots of family movies have books based on the film. For instance, if the movie Finding Dory is a hit with your kids, check out a related book like Ocean of Color.

15. Gift kids a book or few to kick off summer break.

16. Have a beach reading day at home, even if you’re nowhere near the ocean. Fill up the kiddie pool, lay out some beach towels in the backyard, have the kids get in their swimsuits (and plenty of SPF), and bring out their best beach reads.

17. Let your kids pick the books. Kids are much more likely to embrace reading if they’re the ones picking the material.

18. Nudge them toward a new genre. Sure, they can pick the books, but that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage them to check out a nonfiction book based on their interests, or a graphic novel that might broaden their reading horizons.

19. Add a literary stop to your summer road trip. If you’re heading on any kind of summer vacation, find a cool book-related spot to add to the agenda. Whether it’s the Hemingway House in Key West, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Hollywood, or even just a signing a favorite author is doing at a local bookstore, it’ll be a fun adventure for everyone.

20. Pick an author who writes for a variety of age groups, and have everyone in the family select one of their books to read. John Grisham, for example, may be known for his adult fiction, but he also has five young reader books, including the new Theodore Boone: The Scandal.

21.Be the reader you want your kids to be. Set a good example by letting them see you reading for pleasure.

22. Give screen-free Sundays a try. Try turning off the tech for one day each week as a family to allow for more page time, nature time, and face-to-face interaction with your kids.

23. Set up a summer book allowance. If your kids get a weekly or monthly allowance, talk about setting aside a certain amount for summer reading books—or even allot a certain budget for books for the summer.

24. Try a family book club. Or encourage older kids to set one up with their friends.

25. Check out kidlit podcasts together. Good places to start are Storynory, Mugglecast, or video podcast StoryCub.

26. Make sure books are on the packing list for summer trips. Whether your kids are still reading picture books or have moved into the wide world of YA, you’ll want to be sure they have plenty of reading options in their carry-ons.

27. Play word games in the car. Reading isn’t limited to books. Have your kids play the alphabet game with road signs, taking turns looking for letters—Q and Z can be doozies. Or “collect” states from different license plates.

28. Introduce a new series. Getting on board with an already established series means your kids will have a built-in list of what they’ll be reading next.

29. Start a family “After-Dinner Theatre” tradition. Pick a story everyone enjoys and have the kids pick costumes and props and act out scenes from it.

30. Have family read-aloud time. Whether your kids are 2 or 12, they can benefit from and enjoy being read to—and you’ll reap the benefits of sharing your love of reading and your time with them.

How are you encouraging your kids to read this summer?

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