A Mom’s Guide to Local Summer Reading Programs for Kids

Keep your kids reading this summer with one or more of these local summer reading programs! How do you ensure you and your children stick with the reading program? Easy! It just starts with a basket or bin that will probably live on your living room or child’s bedroom floor for the summer.

Here is what you need for your summer book bin:

  1. Books! Make sure your child chooses some books for the bin that are an appropriate level for him or her. Check out this article for an easy way to help them choose just right books. Visit the library and swap books with friends. Don’t hesitate to talk to the librarians for recommendations. They really know their stuff and LOVE to put the right book in a child’s hands.
  2. A timer for keeping track of reading (or listening) time. Think about getting one of these bookmark and light timers! My kids LOVE them. You can also purchase them in person at Barnes & Noble.

3. A fun bookmark

4. For new readers, a whisper phone can be fun, but they usually prefer to read with their grownup and who can blame them? You are pretty awesome.

Summer Reading Programs

Cedar Rapids Kernels

Our very own Minor League Baseball team has a great reading program encouraging kids to read around the bases and gives them fun rewards at each base. What I especially like about this program is that it features a lot of experiences instead of little stuff to lay around the house, like free kids meals or bounce house passes at the game. Of course you get a free ticket to baseball game as well!

Kids color in a baseball that you initial for each 25 minutes read, but it’s easy to adapt for your developing readers. I require mine to read 10 minutes out loud to an adult and then the other 15 minutes for each baseball can count if they are being read to or listening to an audio book or a youtube read aloud book. By the end of the program, you will have a 1000 minute reader! What an accomplishment!

Barnes & Noble Booksellers

This program is also fabulous because it’s SIMPLE! Kids read 8 books on their level. They record the book, author and favorite part. After July 31, they get to turn it in and choose a free book from those listed on the sheet and on also display at Barnes and Noble where you can pick up the sheets. This is the perfect summer reading program for a reluctant reader because it’s not overwhelming and they are able to page through their book choices before they even start to get excited about which one they will choose.

Half-Price Books

Our local Half-Price book store offers it’s own summer reading program for kids. The recording sheets for this program are available June 1st, so at the time of my post, I was not able to get one. If it’s like last year, you can submit a log once for June and once for July to receive coupons good for choosing books in the store. Reading in order to get more books? Sounds like a winner to me!

Cedar Rapids Public Library

In addition to providing fun and free events for children, your child can read 600 minutes between June 4 and July 30 to complete the Summer Dare through Beanstack. Beanstack a website and application that tracks your reading, book reviews, and activities and rewards you for staying active and using your library this summer. Log in and submit your final reading minutes,or call 319.261.READ and library staff will assist you. Once you’ve completed the program, visit the Library and pick up a Friends of the Library free book coupon.

Marion Public Library

MPL is offering a summer reading program called “Read Beyond the Beaten Path” through an online Beanstack Challenge. Anyone who completes the challenge will receive a ticket to win one of three grand prizes. The Grand Prize drawings will be August 8th and children, teens, and adults will have their own grand prize drawings and prizes for each age group. From making bird feeders to Storytimes at local parks, you’ll find something fun to do with MPL. Check out their calendar for fun events for all ages!

Hiawatha Public Library

Running June 1-July 30, HPL is also offering the summer reading program “Read Beyond the Beaten Path.” You can set your own goal of how many books or minutes for your child to read based on his or her abilities. There are also a ton of free events that look amazing – from Intro to Sign Language, a Butterfly Encounter, Planetarium and even a class just for tweens to learn magic from a magician!

Do you have a favorite local summer reading program I missed? Share it in the comments!

Happy reading!

Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox.  While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms’ events and promotions!!


Amy is a North Dakota girl who fell in love with Iowa when she moved to Cedar Rapids as a newlywed in 2006. She's an elementary teacher turned homeschooling mom of twin girls (2011) and a little sister (2014). Her ongoing struggle, is keeping faith at the heart of family life, while still encouraging each of her girls to follow their passions and find their unique gifts. Amy is a lover of words, winter sports, theater, and chocolate. She hopes you find love and encouragement through the posts on CRMoms because mom-ing is always better together.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here