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8 Virtual Reading Programs to Keep Your Kids Engaged This Summer

A little girl sitting under a tree and reading a book.
Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

There’s no need for your kids to succumb to endless boredom this summer. Keep them stimulated and engaged with these enriching reading programs—some of them are even offering cool rewards!

COVID-19 has caused many kids to forgo summer camp this year. However, a summer stuck at home is no excuse to let your child’s brain atrophy. Some exciting reading goals can offer just the right amount of structure and education to keep the summer interesting, fresh, and exciting.

Let your children select the books they’re most interested in, but you can take it a step further by including books that are a step or two above their reading level. This’ll expose them to more challenging vocabulary, ideas, and concepts. You can always read these aloud, too, if they get stuck on some of the words.

Have a family discussion about what everyone’s reading, perhaps around the dinner table. The more engagement and communication you have about literature, the more your children will see reading as a deeply rewarding activity.

Looking for some inspiration for yourself? Here’s how to build an awesome summer reading list.

Scholastic Read-a-Palooza

This free online platform allows kids to transform their reading experience into a fun game. How cool!

It all happens at the Scholastic Home Base. You can also download the app from Google Play or the App Store.

Your kids will be able to:

  • Create unique, personalized avatars
  • Hang out with friends
  • Talk to their favorite book characters
  • Play games
  • Write stories
  • Meet authors

And most importantly, read books!

Your child is encouraged to log his or her reading time every day to win virtual awards and prizes. Plus, after so many hours of reading time, free books are donated to those who need them most.

Reading Is Fundamental

Ready to push your young reader to new heights this summer? Reading Is Fundamental is an excellent online program that’s determined to make books accessible to every child. It’s currently the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit.

Here are some examples of its offerings:

  • The Literacy Central app: Allows your child to take his reading to an interactive level. He can just scan a book’s barcode to instantly explore hundreds of digital resources. There’s also a reading log, which helps track his reading hours.
  • Reading logs and activities: Set some concrete challenges this summer by downloading an activity, such as playing book bingo, engaging in a 40-book challenge, or discovering new titles that’ll pique your child’s interest.
  • SkybraryThis online reading program is geared toward children ages 2-9. They can access eBooks, go on virtual field trips, or engage in educational lessons. It’s free for one month, and then costs $4.99 per month after.

Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program

This fun online program is organized by Half Price Books. The goal is to inspire your child to explore imaginary worlds and strengthen her vocabulary in the process. Say bye-bye to the summer boredom blues!

Here are some of the popular activities on the site:

  • Reading logs
  • Printable activities
  • Online storytimes
  • Social giveaways
  • Top story picks based on grade level


A young girl eating pizza while checking her reading rewards on a laptop.

If your children thrive on rewards and incentives, this is the program for them!

They can easily track their reading progress all summer on the digital dashboard, and, when they reach a goal, they get free pizza. Who doesn’t love free pizza?

Plus, there are extra activities, book recommendations, and additional challenges throughout the summer—all for free!

Camp BOOK IT is truly an excellent way to encourage and inspire your kids to set and maintain their reading goals. But, can we get a program for adults? We want free pizza, too!

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Adventure

Another fantastic reading program that culminates in a prize: a free Dog Man baseball cap! Fun!

This reading challenge is overseen by Dav Pilkey, author and illustrator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man.

Here’s what your kid has to do to win that free cap:

  1. Choose four books from the Books-A-Million adventure section, either in-store or online.
  2. Write about each book in his summer reading adventure log book. For example, he might want to write about his favorite part of the story.
  3. Submit the completed log book to claim that cool baseball cap.

That’s it! Now, pick out those books and get them reading.

Stayhome Reading Bingo

A "Books" Bingo printout with reading goals on it and crayons scattered on top of it.
The Book Girls’ Guide

If your children get stuck on what to read, or are bored by their current books, at-home Bingo is a great way to jump-start their motivation.

You can create your own Bingo card or download one to get started. Here are some fun ideas to explore:

  • Read a book about another country.
  • Read a book about any famous person (a president, singer, baseball player, etc.).
  • Read aloud to siblings, grandparents, or even a collection of stuffed animals.
  • Listen to an audiobook.

There’s no limit to what you can include. If it sounds like fun and is doable, write it down. Make sure to have a few prizes your children can select once they’ve “won,” such as a new book or an online reading subscription.

Summer Reading Challenge for Picky Readers

This awesome reading challenge was created by children’s book author, Julie Stroebel Barichello, to encourage even the pickiest readers to pick up a book. It’s a great way to break out of a rut if your child claims she’s too bored to read.

It’s similar to the above Bingo card idea, but with a longer list. Your child strives to finish the list before the autumn leaves start to fall.

Some of the reading challenges include:

  • A book set in a different century.
  • A book published the year you were born.
  • A book with a seven-word title.

Feel free to add anything else you come up with. To make it even more interesting, your child can make up a challenge list for you, and then you can see who can complete their list first!

Sync Audiobook Program for Teens

Keep your teen engaged all summer with this free audiobook program. They can listen to great titles while they’re lounging by the pool, on a road trip, or in a tent.

And don’t worry—audiobooks are just as good as physical books. They’ll expose your teen to new ideas, worlds, languages, customs, and ideas.

In the end, their imagination and vocabulary will expand, regardless of whether they read or listen to the story. Plus, they can multitask while listening to their book!

These are just a handful of ways you can encourage your kids to set and hit reading goals this summer. Keeping it interesting and fun will inspire them to pick up that next book and escape into another exciting world. Reading is an adventure, after all—one that can last all summer!

If your child is truly inspired by reading, create a storybook together. It’s fun, easy, and an excellent way to put their reading and writing skills to work.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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