As long as you count the backs of cereal boxes, I'm quite the voracious reader. I read on average two books a month and if your children are anything like me, they might be interested in this list I compiled of free summer reading programs! I've been updating this list since 2014 and was pretty surprised at how many of the offers stilled existed in 2021!
Below are all of the 2021 summer reading freebies and deals for kids! Most follow the “read X books, get 1 free” model, but there are a few that differ. Hopefully your little one enjoys reading or at least getting freebies 🙂
I also have an idea I wanted to pass along. With some of these programs, you earn a free book off a list of available books. If your child reads this summer, but isn't interested in the freebies, consider donating them! School and public library are always desperate for books. Donating them to The Salvation Army or Goodwill is another possibility. Regardless, showing your child that freebies can be fun and helpful to others is a cool idea!
Finally, if you're still looking for additional summer reading resources, then I would start with this collection of summer reading information from the NEA.
Confirmed 2021 Summer Reading Freebies
Barnes & Noble – For kids in grades 1-6, get a free book after reading 8 books and filling out a Reading Journal by August 31. For adults, share your school's required reading list and get a free tall hot or iced coffee from the cafe. They also have coupons and discounts listed under the right-most “Summer Reading Deals” tab.
Chuck E. Cheese – They have a ton of methods for kids to earn freebies, from good grades to sports achievements to reading in Spanish or English! This reading rewards calendar doesn't expire until 12/31/21 and gets 10 free Play Points with any food purchase.
H-E-B – Texas children can take part in the H-E-Buddy summer reading club. They have to read 10 books and send in this form by October 1 in order to receive a “cool prize,” which looks to be a free t-shirt.
H‑E‑Buddy 2021 Summer Reading Program
San Antonio, TX 78217
New York Times – Every Friday from June 11 through August 19, any 11- to 19-year-old anywhere can read one article in the NYT and write in about why they read it or what interested them. At the end of the week, judges from the Times newsroom pick favorite responses and publish them here. Aside from broadening their horizon's and randomly posting some of the selected weekly responses, there doesn't look to be any “reason” to do this. Still, 15-year-old-Goob would have gone crazy over this offer so maybe there's a kindred Hiffer out there who would enjoy this.
Pizza Hut – This classic program lets children earn a free personal pan pizza in exchange for reading anything over the summer. Parents can sign up and track their child's progress online without any forms.
Public Libraries – Be sure to check with your local libraries, as they often host multiple weekly, monthly, and seasonal events and reading competitions.
Reading with the Rays – Florida children can read anything they desire and receive free baseball prizes! This program starts on May 30.
Scholastic – Now through September 3, kids can log their reading time online as part of the Scholastic Summer Reading Program. Over the course of 18 weeks, kids can unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges; and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content.
Maintaining a reading streak will also unlock donations of 100,000 books from Scholastic to kids in rural America with limited or no access to books.
SYNC – This free program offers free audiobooks each week to teens at least 13 years old.
TD Bank – We can't forget the classic offer by TD Bank! Kids in grades K-5 have from June 1 until Aug. 31 to read 10 books. They'll be rewarded with cold, hard cash in the form of $10 added to their free savings account.
Previous Summer Reading Deals Unconfirmed for 2021
The items below were summer reading deals during 2018-2020. If I find confirmation they'll return this year, I'll move them up above.
Amazon – Grades K-8 can read any 8 books this summer and get
a free book$1 off your next book purchase. Man, they really downgraded this offer for 2020, huh?
American Girl – Select locations in large cities are being held for girls ages 8 and up. Kids get to decorate their own bookmark and summer reading log and can take home a doll-sized poster.
DOGOBooks – Ten participants who review the most books will be eligible to win a Prize Pack of seven books shown on the site. The next twenty-five participants with the most reviews will be eligible to win a $10 Gift Card.
Half Price Books – This program went virtual in 2020, but they haven't released full details for 2021 yet. In years past, this program started on June 1. Children 14 and under who read 300 minutes over June and July (that's only 5 mins/day) will receive Bookworm Bucks. I don't see where it says how much you'll get, but it was $5 previous years.
Teens can also earn HPB Bookworm Bucks by reading any of the listed titles and writing a short review.
LifeWay – Take your completed Summer Reading Journal to the register at your local LifeWay store to get one of nine books plus receive a free Bible, while supplies last.
Showcase Cinemas – Bookworm Wednesday rewards your little one with free admission to a select children's film when they present a book report. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six years of age receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report!