Create a Fun Summer Reading Program at Home to Encourage Reading

A summer reading list is perfect for the summer! Kids of all ages can benefit from a summer reading list this year! Summer vacation is fun, but to prevent your kids from being too behind when school starts up, it’s a great idea to get them to do some reading this summer. And we have some great ideas for a summer reading list based on age. We also have some great ways for your child to be able to track the books they’ve read off their summer reading list as well as summer reading list rewards based on weekly and monthly reading.

Related: Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) Reading Wheel

Creating a summer reading list for kids at home - Kids Activities blog - child reading a book
Let’s spend the summer reading good books!

Encourage Summer Reading in Kids With A Summer Reading List

While the summer can be filled with new adventures and fun vacations, it’s well known that kids lose some of their knowledge and learning skills over the summer and that can include reading skills. Let’s create some incentive this summer for opening books through a home summer reading program!

So it’s important for kids of all ages to maintain those reading skills over the summer months. So why not create a summer reading program with incentives. This will allow the kiddos to earn reading rewards for doing what they were already doing over the school year. We started a summer reading incentive program last year and it really helped keep my kids interested in school and reading. This summer we are going to add math to the equation! Math skills are really lost over the summer months. I am going to add bonus math points this summer.

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Summer Reading Book Lists Ideas

So now you may be asking what should my kids be reading this summer. Here’s a list of the summer’s most popular books.

Summer Reading Books for Ages 1 – 3 years

Summer book list for toddlers- disney books, wheels on the bus, big animal book, first 100 words
These books are perfect for a toddler summer reading list.

Early learners this age can participate with reading aloud, a wordless book, board books and simple word books like early reader books.

  • First 100 Words Board book – This will help improve your kids vocabulary with 100 color photographs and first words!
  • My Big Animal Book (My Big Board Books) Board book -This is another great “first” book for kids. This will help them learn about animals, where they live and how to visualize the word.
  • The Wheels On The Bus Books– This book is a great interactive book for babies and toddlers with some of our favorite verses.
  • Disney Mickey Mouse My First Books– These sturdy books are great for toddlers. Learn your numbers, shapes, colors, and ABCs!

Summer Reading Books for Ages 4-8 years

Summer book list for elementary aged kids- dinosaur book, little critter, clifford, dr. seuss
These classic books are great for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Great for a summer book list.

This age group of young readers is really fun because kids can concentrate on pre-reading skills, early reading skills and reading skills based on what their interests might be. They can tackle a new challenge by reading a book! This age group may even like to check out a comic book or a non-traditional book not necessarily expected for their age groups.

Summer Reading Books for Ages 8 and up

Summer reading list for elementary aged kids- hank the cow dog, boxcar children, charlottes web, the secret garden
These books are perfect for elementary aged kids.

Almost anything goes with this group of competent readers. Maybe a graphic novel? Maybe a suggestion from a library staff member? These readers may willingly spend hours of reading on a good book.

  • Secret Garden– I love the Secret Garden. It was one of my favorite book growing up. It’s a story of adventure and mystery and a very touching story!
  • Charlotte’s Web – This is a classic and a rite of passage for summer.
  • Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids -What is summer without a few laughs. I bought this joke book for my kids over the holidays and we are still laughing at these jokes. They are simple and very funny for kids!
  • Boxcar Children Books– These books are easy to read, full of mystery, fun, and adventure! Kids will love going on a different mystery in every book!
  • Hank The Cow Dog– Hank is a brave dog! While investigating a murder on the ranch, Hank ends up being a suspect! Can he clear his name? Stop the real culprits?

Summer Reading Books For Tweens and Teenagers

Summer reading list for tweens and teens- Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Where The Red Fern Grows, Little Women
These classic books are a great for tweens and teens!

We can’t leave out the bigger kids. While the rewards will have to be tweaked for older kids like tweens and teens, they too need to keep up with their reading. And what better reading than the classics!

  • Where The Red Fern Grows– Have the tissues ready when reading this book! This classic book was written in 1996 and talks about the adventure a young man and his dogs have as they become the best hunting team in the area. However, hardships come along, can Billy keep is hope?
  • Little Women– Little Women is a beautiful story about the four March sisters and their ascent from girlhood to womanhood. It’s a classic story which was written in 1868.
  • Little Men– Little men was written after Little Women in 1871. This is considered the “second book” to Little Women. This story tells the story of Jo Bhaer and her children.
  • The Hobbit– Go on an adventure with Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves as they go to reclaim the home of the dwarves from the dragon Smaug. It’s one of the greatest adventures ever told.
  • Lord of the Rings– The Lord of the Rings is title most people recognize. Can Sam and Frodo make it to Mordor to destroy the ring of power? Will Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas be able to fight of the forces of Mordor? This is the ultimate story of good and evil.

More Summer Reading Lists for Kids

If you are looking for other summer book ideas, here’s a complete list on Amazon.

My Summer Plan for Reading - Percy Jackson

CREATE A SUMMER READING List and Reward System To Get Kids Motivated To Read

Grab your library card and head to the local library or check out a library location that is a little bigger than your local branch to pick up new books. We also love visiting the local bookstore or ordering books online. The goal is to encourage the love of reading and prevent summer slide. Ok, now that we are all on the same page (get it?) let’s try some new things and make this summer reading goal a special event!


I use a poster board with columns that list all the weeks of the summer. Every time my kids read a book, we wrote the title of the book on the poster board. I also used a gold star sticker to put next to the title. The kids love putting a sticker on the board to show their achievements and watching their reading streak. This also got the whole family involved because each member could see the leaderboard.


Each picture books earns them 1 point, each chapter book is worth 10 points.


On Sundays we total up all the points from the week. The child with the most points for the week, earned a prize or incentive. I created a treasure box that included note cards with rewards. If they both earn the same amount of points, they both choose a reward.

Reading Rewards

  • Stay up late
  • Saturday freebie (choose what we do as a family on Saturday)
  • Play date with friends
  • Trip to bookstore or library to get a new book
  • Choose Friday movie on Demand
  • Go for ice cream


To keep the kids interested throughout the summer, we also rewarded them if they had the most points each month and at the end of the summer.

Create a summer reading program at home with incentives - Kids activities blog - child reading a book
So many good books to read..such a short summer!

Printable Reading Log And Bookmark To Help Older Kids Keep Up With Their Summer Reading List

This printable reading log and bookmark is a great way for older kids to keep up with their reading. This printable not only allows kids to decorate their own paper bookmark, but also has a personal reading log kids can decorate. The reading log allows kids to keep up with the date, the amount of time they’re reading, and the book they’re reading. It will help ensure that they read the whole book!

End of Summer Reading Prizes

These prizes included toys and gift cards valued at $10. Then at the end of the summer, the child with the most points was given a $25 cash prize to do whatever they wanted.

**This year I am adding math to the summer incentive chart. I will give each of them a math problem to solve each day. They will get a bonus point for getting it right!

There are many ways to create your own summer reading or math incentive program. And there are others you can also sign your kids up for. Barnes & Noble, The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge and Pizza Hut’s Spark your Greatness Summer Reading Program offer great incentives.

More Fun Learning Activities to Encourage Reading from Kids Activities Blog

How did your summer reading program turn out? We would love to hear more!

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