It’s summer and some moms and dads are stressed. Not because summer means no school, bored kids, and sticky Popsicle spills, but because summer means our kids will be staring at video screens and losing most of the reading skills we spent so much of the previous year building. If you are determined to keep this from happening, you’ll be interested to know that there are several excellent summer reading programs in the D.C. area, and when we say excellent we also mean free!

11363945626_fbf6d4f32b_z (1)Photo: Owen and Aki via Flickr

Go for the Gold – READ!
Dates: Through Aug 26
Ages: All

The public library remains one of the best and cheapest (read: free) ways to spend quality time reading books, and D.C.’s public library offers a great summer reading program called Go for the Gold – READ!  It encourages children, teens and adults to discover great books, enjoy fun events, and go for the gold just like hometown Olympian Stephen Strasburg. Register online and record your summer reading progress. If you reach your reading goal you win prizes such as tickets to see the Washington Nationals play, gift cards to Chipotle, and much more. You can participate in the program through any of the dozens of library branches throughout the DMV.

DC Public Library
901 G St., NW
Online: dclibrary.beanstack.org

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Triathlon
Dates: Through Sept 6
Ages: Grades 1 to 6

Kids can keep their eyes on the prize with the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon, which will help your kids stay in good reading shape all summer with activities and challenges that are fun no matter which books you choose to read. Download the Reading Journal from the Barnes and Noble website and answer the questions listed on the back. Once you’ve completed your journal, you can turn it into your local store and choose a free book to take home. Score!

2800 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 500 (Arlington, Va)
Online: barnesandnoble.com

I Can Readathon!
Dates: Ongoing
Ages: 4 and up

If your kids are crazy for Chuck E Cheese arcade games then this is the summer program for you.  Start by downloading and printing the Reading Rewards Calendar from the Chuck E. Cheese website.  Kids who read everyday for two weeks will win 10 free tokens.  Some locations feature “Reading with Chuck E.” events where a cast member will read a selected book to help jumpstart your kid’s two-week readathon!

Chuck E. Cheese
Online: chuckecheese.com

Hooray for Books
Dates: Through Aug 31
Ages: Grades K to 12

Designed for grades K – 5, the Give Me Summer, Give Me Books challenge lets your child earn a $5 gift card to the store if she reads a total of six books – three suggested by Hooray for Books and three of your choice.  They also offer a Give Me Summer, Give Me Books BINGO for readers 12 and older.  Complete a line on your BINGO sheet and return it to the store for a prize.  Readers can pick up BINGO sheets at the check-out counter.

1555 King St. (Alexandria, Va)
Online:hooray4books.com

Be A Reading Superhero
Dates: Through Sept 9
Ages: 3 to 18

You don’t even have to leave the house to keep your kids reading this summer. Scholastic offers an online program that will turn any child aged 3 and up into a reading superhero. The program is simple: Read; log minutes; earn virtual rewards. It is designed to motivate and excite your kids in a way that keeps them reading. Parents can download customized reading lists and get expert advice on what might be the best books for your child.

Online: scholastic.com

Did we miss any amazing local reading programs? Tell us in the comments section below. 

–Jamy Bond