Usually we see loads of free summer reading programs in Wichita and in neighboring communities designed to help kids stay in practice and avoid that “summer slide.” Programs include a reading goal of some sort, a way to track your progress, and prizes for accomplishing summer reading goals. And all of them are free!
This year’s programs may end up being slightly different, but we know of at least one program that is still happening.
The Wichita Public Library announced that its summer reading program, which enrolls around 10,000 kids annually, will begin early this year on May 1. The theme is 150 Years of Stories to celebrate Wichita’s 150th birthday. The program will be offered in a digital format through Beanstack, the Library’s reading tracking app. Informational videos for using Beanstack are available on the Library’s website and YouTube channels. PDF tracking sheets are also available for download.
Wichita-area Summer Reading Programs
Kids in Wichita have no lack of choices for fun summer reading, and the prizes often include coupons for free food items or new books.
Wichita Public Library Summer Reading Program
Wichita Public Library’s summer reading program begins May 1 and runs until July 23. Sign up at wichitalibrary.org/summerreading.
This year, the goal is 1,000 total minutes. Prizes will be awarded at different reading benchmarks. Participants who want to go above and beyond can read an additional 500 minutes to be entered into a special prize drawing. Instead of picking up a print calendar at the library, participants will track their progress via an app called Beanstack (which is free).
The reading program is offered for different age groups:
- Baby Bookworms Start early to help encourage your child to develop a lifelong love of reading. The Baby Bookworm program is for kids 2 and under and has age-appropriate rewards and activities. You can also participate in the 1000 books before kindergarten program.
- Kids & Teens Read For kids ages 3-17. Being read to – or reading to someone else – also counts.
You can get more information about all of the library’s reading programs at the link above. Several Library-sponsored events are scheduled throughout the summer to coincide with the program at all Library locations across Wichita. All events are free.
Barnes and Noble Free Summer Reading Program
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Kids in first- through sixth-grade can earn a free book by reading any eight books and recording them in reading journals available at the store or at the website. Bring the completed journal to a local Barnes & Noble between the dates given and your child can choose a free book from the specially selected titles.
Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards
Kids record their reading every day for two weeks in the printable Reading Rewards Calendar. Redeem the completed calendar at participating Chuck E. Cheese locations for 10 free tokens. A food purchase is required. The current Reading Rewards calendar expires December 31.
Free summer reading resources
These aren’t reading programs, but they are great free reading resources for kids:
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Parents of children 5 and younger who live in eligible ZIP codes can sign up to receive a free, high-quality book each month.
- Free Sesame Street e-books Bright, colorful online versions of books featuring kids’ favorite Sesame Street characters.
- Storyline Online Members of the Screen Actors Guild read popular children’s books.
- American Library Association Teen Book Finder App Free iOS or Android app helps you find books that have won awards from the Young Adult Library Services Association.
- Scholastic Book Wizard This is a great online tool designed for teachers, but parents can use it to find new titles for their kids to read. Enter the title of a book your child or teen loves and find other books similar to it. You can also search for books according to grade level, Lexile score or Developmental Reading Assessment. It’s the next-best thing to a librarian. Scholastic also does also have a simplified book list for parents to find recommended books by age.
- Free printable summer reading lists are offered by grade level from the American Library Association. A separate set of lists, Summertime Favorites, features books having “lasting value.” Since many of the books on the Summertime Favorites lists are classics, some might be out of copyright and available for free at Amazon.
- Find children’s books at Amazon (affiliate link). If you have a phone, tablet, or almost any kind of ereader, you can sometimes find and download free books at Amazon. Prices on Amazon change frequently, so when you do find a free book, get it before the price goes up.
Summer Reading Programs in Neighboring Communities
This year (2020) may be quite different from other summers, so be sure to check with your local library to see what is available. Anyone in the area can pick up a Wichita Public Library card by phone for free and participate in their virtual summer reading program.
If you live in one of the communities near Wichita, ask your local library if they offer a summer reading program. I’ve found the ones listed below, but there may be others.
Haysville Public Library Enroll beginning mid-May for the Haysville Summer Reading Program that will go from early June to mid-July. Enrolled kids complete a list of tasks each week for prizes.
Derby Public Library Signups begin in May for the Derby summer reading program, which offers programs for different age groups. It is usually similar to Wichita’s program, but the age groups, requirements, and prizes may be different. Be sure to check it out if you live in Derby.
Andover Public Library The Andover Library summer reading program generally kicks off with a party in late May and kids can participate through late July. Register online or at the library. Still waiting for more details. In past years, children who read 20 minutes per day can earn free books.
Park City Public Library Registration for the Park City Library Summer Reading Club generally opens in May. The program features special activities and performances from early June through late July. If this is your library, be sure to stop by for more information.
Newton Public Library Kids can sign up now for the Newton Library summer reading program. They have programs and activities for children, teens, and adults. But some programs are limited, so sign up early to reserve your spot!
Mulvane Public Library The Mulvane Public Library offers a free summer reading program for all ages – children, teens and adults – with activities and prize drawings throughout the summer.