By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
The countdown is on: students (and some teachers!) may already know exactly how many days are left in the school year. But the countdown for when school ends also is the countdown for when summer reading programs start! These free local programs help your kids keep up with reading during the summer so they are well-prepared for the start of another school year in the fall.
In Northern Virginia, local libraries, bookstores, and businesses provide fun ways to keep kids reading during the summer months. They encourage students to read during the summer months, often rewarding them at the end of the program with free books, the chance to win prizes, coupons for local attractions, and more. Below is an overview of summer reading programs in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. And remember: you’re never too young to develop a love of reading! Because of this, some programs allow kids younger than school-age children to participate. Even if a baby or toddler is being read to rather than reading to himself, it’s all about developing an appreciation for the importance of books.
PUBLIC LIBRARY PROGRAMS
In the Fairfax County Public Library program, students read a certain number of books depending on their age group, then turn in their reading lists for goodies and prizes. This year’s theme is Reading by Design, June 23 to September 2, 2017. Students of all ages, from babies to teens, can participate. The Summer Reading Adventure encourages readers of all ages, so even children who cannot yet read can participate by having an adult or older child read to them. There are suggested reading lists but participants are free to select their own books. Kids from birth to sixth grade read 15 books and students in grades 7-12 read six books. You can sign up online or pick up a reading log at any library branch. At any point during the program’s timeframe, when a child has completed the reading list, he or she can turn it in for a coupon book with freebies and discounts. Among the prizes are free admission to water parks, a free laser tag game, treats at various restaurants, free admission to sports events, and retail discounts. There also are in-library activities to accompany the program.
City of Falls Church
“Build a Better World at the Library” is the theme for the 2017 reading program by the City of Falls Church, June 25 to September 15, 2017. Once participants complete their specified number of book they can choose a free paperback book from a large selection of titles. The library also offers a Challenge Game for strong readers with an additional prize if completed. There are programs for “pre-readers” (infants and young toddlers), independent readers through age 11, and teen readers. In addition, there are special programs, including performances, games, and crafts.
Loudoun County hosts a Summer Reading Challenge, also looking to “Build a Better World.” The program from June 10 to August 20, 2017 offers various challenges for a chance to win a Kindle. Accompanying the program is a series of free events featuring music, puppets, live animals, and science demos with some of the area’s most popular children’s entertainers.
Prince William County
Prince William County wants everyone to “Journey Through Books” June 19 to August 19, 2017. There are programs for kids, young adults, and adults. Depending on their grade, students use a “passport” or punch card to track their reading and collect prizes along the way. There are also Weekly Challenges with different themes such as Virginia, Pets, Maker, and Universe, when you can win more prizes. Accompanying the program are fun, free events for all ages including puppet shows, theater presentations, arts and crafts sessions, STEAM activities, music performances, and more.
Arlington County’s program, June 3 to September 20, 2017, also is open to all ages, from preschoolers to adults. Depending on the age and number of books they’ve read, students can win books and small prizes. Teens and adults also can become eligible to win raffle prizes. The library also will have special events such as maker workshops and educational sessions.
PROGRAMS BY BUSINESSES
Barnes and Noble
The Barnes and Noble Booksellers summer reading program is geared to younger readers, grades 1-6. Participants read any eight books between May 16 and September 5, 2017, and record them in a journal. They then bring the completed journal to a Barnes and Noble store to select a book listed on the journal. Grades 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 can choose from one of eight books geared to their respective ages.
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Scholastic, another popular bookseller, also runs a summer reading challenge, May 8 to September 8, 2017. In this program, children read and go online to record their reading minutes for a chance to win books and other prizes. The program site also has support resources for parents and teachers.
Chuck E. Cheese Rewards
Chuck E. Cheese, the popular arcade and play area, has a reading program through which kids can earn 10 freeChuck E. Cheese tokens for reading each day for two weeks. This reading program is not summer-specific but rather goes on all year. Parents can print a reading chart in English or in Spanish.
TD Bank Summer Reading Program
TD Bank has a summer reading program for kids in grades K-5. Children read 10 books this summer fill out a form, and take it to a TD Bank branch to get $10 deposited into a new or existing TD Simple Savings account. (Please note: while this page shows 2016 dates, the company has confirmed the program will run in 2017 again).