As long as you count the back 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 still existed in 2023!
Below are all of the 2023 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 2023 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 “Coupons & 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 12/31/23 and gets 10 free Play Points with any food purchase.
Department of Defense – The DOD offers a summer reading program for military families & children stationed worldwide. In partnership with iREAD Summer Reading, library programs will include activities, graphics, crafts, reading lists, incentives, and much more for children, teens, and adults.
For more information, please contact your installation library (here's a full list with direct links!) or email them.
Half Price Books – Registration is now open! Starting on June 1, children 14 and under who read 300 minutes over June and July (that's only 5 mins/day) will earn $5 free Bookworm Bucks and a camp stickers sheet. There are also additional summer reading activities.
Teens can also earn HPB Bookworm Bucks by reading any of the listed titles and writing a short review.
H-E-B – Texas children can take part in the H-E-Buddy summer reading club. They have to read 10 books, including 1 Read-3 book, 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 2023 Summer Reading Program
San Antonio, TX 78217
New York Times – Every Friday from June 9 through August 18, any middle and high-school student 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! Each child who completes their Reading with the Rays game card is eligible for two (2) free Lower Reserved tickets, subject to availability. Other prizes include sticker sheets, snap bracelets, and arm sleeves.
Scholastic – Now through September 7, kids can log their reading time online as part of the Scholastic Summer Reading ‘Home Base' Program. Over the course of 10 weeks, kids can unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges; and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content. Home Base is moderated for safety 24/7.
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.
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!
SYNC – This free program offers free audiobooks each week to teens at least 13 years old. Two audiobooks are available each week through the Sora reading app now through August 2, 2023.
Previous Summer Reading Deals Unconfirmed for 2023
The items below were summer reading deals during 2018-2022. If I find confirmation they'll return this year, I'll move them up above.
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.
– 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.
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.