If you’re looking for a way to encourage children to read over the summer, and have fun while doing it, there are plenty of opportunities available!
The most obvious–check with your library. Aside from regular story-times, many libraries also offer a summer reading program. If children read a certain number of books, whether weekly, or during the summer in general, they can win fun prizes. Our library, for example, has weekly book logs, (four in total), for toddlers up through grade eight. Upon returning the log, the children receive a prize, (something simple, like a super-ball), as well as coupons for free food–meals at places like Chick-fil-A, or free custard at the local custard place. At the end of the summer, they can get tickets to see the Gateway Grizzlies play baseball, and there are also raffles for various gift certificates, (Toys R Us and Build-a-Bear, to name two), and even Cardinals tickets.
Bookstores also offer fun programs to encourage reading. Borders has the most simple program–any child under the age of 12 simply fills out a book log with a list of ten books read. In return, the child gets to choose one free book from a list. The book list has a good selection of classics, such as Ramona the Brave and one of my favorites, The Phantom Tollbooth, as well as more modern books, like Ballpark Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-Up, and a good range of reading levels, from beginning readers, like Danny and the Dinosaur, up through children’s novels, such as Ella Enchanted.
Barnes and Noble has a similar program, but theirs is a little more challenging. Children in grades one through six, (note the specific age range), only have to read eight books, but in addition to listing both the name and author of each, they also need to make a recommendation as to who would like the book and why. In return, they also get to choose a free book, but they are limited to the selection of books appropriate to their grade level. I found their selection to be a little less appealing, but they do have some classics such as Nancy Drew and James and the Giant Peach. They even offer a few titles in Spanish, which I think is a great idea!
I don’t know if any other national chains offer similar programs, and I’m also not sure if independent bookstores would offer something similar, but it’s certainly worth checking into. Reading for pleasure is a great ability to have, and I’m glad to see so many different ways to foster this skill!