Summer Reading Program for Families

A few summers ago I decided to create our own family summer reading program, and it is one of our FAVORITE summer activities. I want to pass that love of reading on to my children, and share with them my passion of summertime reading. Our library has a wonderful summer reading program, but it’s fairly short, and can be (and usually is) completed in four weeks. Now we do both, and love it!

Family Summer Reading Program

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Summer reading program supplies:

I punched out 2 inch circles in cardstock that say “I’ve read 20 minutes”, and “I’ve read a book!” (see free printable below), then distressed the edges using Distress Ink. To keep track of all the circles they earn, I thought the easiest way was to use one of my favorite things…buckets! I already had them for each of the kids, and they’re super easy to keep out for long periods of time. Ours go on a ledge in the family room, where they are in plain sight, and are easy to add to.

Here’s how our family summer reading program works:

When they’ve completed either 20 minutes or have read one book, they take a circle and place it in their bucket.  If my reading kids finish a book, they can add a circle to their bucket for extra credit, but it has to be a chapter book that’s on their reading level.

Each week I count the circles and award prizes for the totals. I want them to be able to earn something each week, with the prizes getting bigger as the weeks progress. The prize levels are different for each of my kids based on age, in order to even out the playing field.

Prizes can include…

candy, trips to get ice cream, renting a movie, date night with mom or dad, a “staying up late” coupon, or even a special trip to the bookstore to choose a new book.

This can work for any age, and even my little ones can get in on the action. There are so many fabulous board books out there that are perfect for those chubby little hands. Plus, they never get tired of hearing them over and over again. That’s one of my favorite things about this program. Regardless of the ages of your children, from toddlers on up to teenagers and adults–it’s something for the entire family! It’s my goal for us to read even more every day, and making it a part of our regular summertime routine. You can totally adapt this program for the ages of your kids, and prizes that you’d like to incorporate.

Family Summer Reading Program

I’m including the free printable for you to download, if you’d like to use it!  Just save the pdf file to your computer, then print.  I used a 2 inch circle punch (Fiskars) to cut them out.  I made a lot—based on the amount of kids I have, and how many circles I think they’ll use.  If you run out, you can always print more!  ☺

This Summer Reading Program is honestly so fun, and it keeps kids interested and excited in reading throughout the summer. Some of my kids LOVE to read, and others not so much, and this works for all of them.


If you’re looking for book ideas, I’ve got a couple favorite book lists that I’ve created–one for girls 8-12, and one for boys 8-12. I’m working on a children’s book list and YA list now–hopefully I’ll have them finished before school is out!

 Looking for more ways to enjoy your summer and keep it organized? Check out some of my other summertime ideas!



Family Summer Reading Program

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  1. How wonderful you are! Thank you for posting this list, it's something I think my neice would really enjoy, now I'll have to work out a few prizes… :). Great idea!

  2. it is so important to read to your children. kids do not have good vocabulary anymore,reading improves that so much! i have always loved reading!!!

  3. What a wonderful idea! We used to do the library reading programme too, but it was one book per week, so we would get through it far too quickly. I think your idea to make it last all summer is so brilliant! xxx

  4. I love your idea and I've always been an avid reader too! We have an awesome library reading program, my Oldest is 13 and in the teen section now, and my Youngest is 6 and reading on his own this summer. He signed up today to read 100 books (him and his Mom :-) and has already read 4 books! Great ideas though!

  5. I love your idea, Kierste. You sound like me because I was exactly the same except I think we could take 8 books :)

  6. I love summer reading too! I recently designed a tote bag especially for library books and I've been thrilled at how many moms have made them as end-of-the-school-year gifts for their kids in preparation for lots of library visits this summer. I have awesome memories of working my way through the entire Agatha Christie shelf one summer. . .

  7. What a great idea. I actually just blogged about taking my kids to the library today to sign up for our summer reading program.

  8. What a fun idea that I'm soooo gonna do! I have been needing some ideas on how to keep my son reading when he doesn't have to report to his teacher! Thanks for the downloads too! :)

  9. I fondly remember my summer biycle trips to the library. Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew – woo-woo! Reading was (and is) such a great escape. Now that I'm a grown up, I wasn't taking the time to read, so I started a book club! We now have 12 active members, and have read a great many myriad of books, some of which I would've never read on my own.

  10. I am an avid reader, as are my 3 big kids. I hope to instill that love in our 2 littlest. Great idea!
    By the way..I LOVED Cherry Ames books when I was in 3rd…memories!

  11. What wonderful lists! I remember so many of them from my youth as well: Trixie Belden, etc. When I go skating outside I always tell my dh I feel like Hans Brinker and he just looks at me with a blank stare. It is nice someone else appreciates these classics! I've started keeping track of what I'm reading this year on my blog if you run out of material! lol As an added bonus, as I finish each book that is not a library book this summer, I'm donating it to the local library so others can enjoy it. Summer is indeed reading time! lol

  12. I absolutely love this idea! I have been posting recently about summer reading, so I featured you for my Favorite Friday post. You can read the post at:

    I linked back to you several times and credited you the picture. Thanks again for the great post!

  13. J is just finishing The Magic Treehouse series. He's really enjoyed them. They weren't around when we were kids. I'm not sure what age they would be-Probably the first list. Each book is 60-75 pages and has illustrations too. I'm grateful for these little books because they pushed him into "longer" books. He told me he read The Magic Finger today too. And now to Beaverly Cleary's Runaway Ralph. I'm so excited for summer reading!

  14. Love this Idea. Thanks. Thanks. Do you have a list of quick fun reads for us mothers with little time on our hands and a real love for reading? Just really want a handful for good books for myself this summer! Thanks again for the idea! Love it!

  15. I love that you are encouraging your kiddos to read so much! This is a twice-daily activity at our house, and as a teacher and book lover, I think it's SO important!

  16. Shalet–

    I do have some great book ideas for moms–I'll post those soon.

    The fonts are century gothic and rebekah's birthday.


  17. You have some of the most amazing ideas… I want to do them all. BTW, I mentioned you on my blog ( and gave you an "award"… check it out.

  18. These are adorable and so functional! I don't know how you have the time to do it all! I only have 1 set of twins and would love to be as crafty as you are. You have such great, practical ideas that I love!

    Katie at

  19. I too got books from the Tooth Fairy! I love this idea but I think I will revamp it so it's a chart of some sort. My kids are VERY visual. Ok, so I'm visual. LOL.

  20. Oh I love this and I would have loved it when I was a kid too!

    I like Amelia Bedilia and many other books on your list. :) Have you read Doreen Cronin's books? "Click Clack Moo" etc? They are so cute for kids! And was it her who also wrote Diary of a Worm? I like that one as well. :)

  21. We live in Beijing and we have gotten together about 10 families who speak English and we have a summer reading club. The club gives prizes for every 8 hours of reading. Then if EVERYONE in the club reads 24 hours we are going to have a joint family fun event. (Probably a picnic or pool day). One Mom got a bunch of prizes off the internet here and the kids are so excited. We meet together once every two weeks to award prizes and give the kids a chance to talk about the books they are reading. This week they are to dress up as their favorite book character. Because English books are sometimes hard to get here, we also swap books. It is a great postive peer pressure way to get my son to read. Everyone is having a great time

  22. I found your site via Ann Voskamp"s blog. I love your reading plan. I know its a little late but, I am going to begin it the first of next week. My son loves to read & I want to help encourage reading for my 4 year old daughter. Thanks for the suggestions!


  23. for the blossoming reader, another excellent series is Tomie di Paola's one based on his childhood….26 Fairmount Ave., etc etc.

    A very fun summer read-aloud is Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear (but you have to do the voices!)

  24. Oh my goodness, I LOVE THIS! As a first grade teacher I adore moms like you (makes my job easier)! I saw the tokens on pinterest and I am gonna figure out a wau to use them in my classroom. Also, I love the booklists! My own kiddos are getting bigger and we are always searching for new reading. THANKS!

  25. Thanks for the excellent idea. Can you tell me how you made yours? That is, looks like you added some scruff marks to your little circles. They also look kind of thick. Did you paste them onto cardstock? Please help with your wonderful style tips!!

  26. i am a children's librarian, and this is such a cute idea! we are "bucket fillers" at our school =) we look for ways to fill each others buckets, and i need a bucket to have in the library so they can drop their "i've read a book" circles in them. once a month i'll draw several names out and award prizes for filling our library bucket! i'm SO excited! so… where'd you get your cute buckets?? =)

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