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. Shalet–

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

    The fonts are century gothic and rebekah's birthday.


  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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. :)

  6. 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

  7. 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!


  8. 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!)

  9. 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!

  10. 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!!

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