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6 Summer Reading Challenges to Hook Kids on Books

Written by

Frannie Ucciferri of Common Sense Media

Photography by

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.

Challenge 2: Find a new favorite.
Give your cherished copies of your all-time faves a summer vacation, too, and try these similar picks.

Challenge 3: Read around the world.
“Travel” to faraway places and learn about new cultures with these diverse picks.

Challenge 4: Find your inner “upstander.”
Help kids inoculate themselves against bullying by practicing empathy and acceptance of 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?

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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