6 Summer Reading Challenges to Hook Kids on Books
Frannie Ucciferri of Common Sense Media
Sarah Perez, Photographed by Michelle Drewes
For many kids, summer means trading in reading logs and library visits for screen time and “summer slide.” But summer can also be a great time to catch up on all the awesome books you might have missed during the school year. To encourage kids to keep reading over the school break, we’ve come up with a few ways to introduce some friendly competition into the mix.
These “challenges” will not only provide you with some fantastic reads for kids of all ages, interests, and reading levels, they’ll offer you tons to talk about together, from faraway cultures to scientific facts to the importance of tolerance and friendship. Whatever your family’s reading style, there’s something here that will help your kid feel inspired and motivated to read all the way up to the start of the school year.
Challenge 1: Read the book(s) before you see the movie.
This year has been a big one for film adaptations of books, but most people agree: It’s better to read the book first.
- Can you read all nine of these before you watch the movie?
- Discover even more book-based movies, including classic read-aloud faves such as Paddington, Stuart Little, and The Wizard of Oz.
Challenge 2: Find a new favorite.
Give your cherished copies of your all-time faves a summer vacation, too, and try these similar picks.
- If you love Harry Potter, you’ll love these magical fantasies.
- If you swoon over realistic fiction like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, grab the Kleenex and try these.
- If you can’t get enough Katniss Everdeen, these Hunger Games-like reads feed the need.
Challenge 3: Read around the world.
“Travel” to faraway places and learn about new cultures with these diverse picks.
- Get bit by the travel bug with these books about planes, trains, and automobiles.
- Take a trip to Chile, Mexico, Cuba, and more with these books about Latinos.
- From there, hop over to India, China, Vietnam, and all across Asia with these books about Asians and Asian Americans.
- Don’t forget Afghanistan, Nepal, Ireland, and so many other cultures worldwide.
- Then learn about the many paths to the United States with these incredible immigrant experiences.
Challenge 4: Find your inner “upstander.”
Help kids inoculate themselves against bullying by practicing empathy and acceptance of differences.
- Learn how to identify bullies in real life.
- Help kids build their self-esteem.
- Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
- Learn to appreciate people’s differences.
Challenge 5: Get technical.
Techie kids and STEM lovers can get in on the action with these books (and apps, too).
- If you prefer multiplication and microscopes to spelling and grammar, these math and science books will spark your curiosity (and maybe slightly more appreciation for books).
- Tech lovers who think reading is boring can try these apps to see if it’s really as dull as they think.
- Story lovers who want a lightweight alternative when they’re on the go can download these book apps, which are perfect in your pocket.
- If you want to like reading but need to boost your skills a bit first, start with these fun games and reading resources to work on everything from letters to phonics to fluency.
Challenge 6: Crown the best of the best.
All these picks have been honored by major literary awards, but which are really the best?
- When you’re choosing between The Crossover and Calpurnia Tate, it won’t be easy to decide which of these books is the best work of children’s literature.
- The stunning pictures take center stage here, but it’s up to you to pick which of these picture books has the best art.
- All of these books are by renowned African American authors and illustrators. Can you choose your favorite?
- Challenge yourself to decide which of these is the best book for teens, a difficult task when the options include The Hate U Give, The Sun Is Also a Star, and Eleanor & Park.
For more recommendations on great books for kids to read this summer (and beyond!), check out our roundups on Black History Books For Kids, 35+ Books Featuring Bold & Brave Female Characters, Great Picture Books For Mini Feminists, Kids Books That Challenge Gender Norms, Our Favorite Inclusive Kids Books, 10 Books For Your Mini Francophile, Kids Books That Encourage Healthy Eating, The Most Beautiful Children’s Books, and a history lesson on Caldecott Award-winning children’s books.
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