Summer Reading Programs Reviewed

Observations about summer:

summer graph

(You can see I am not a mathematician, accountant, or any other numbers/graph related person. Just don’t look too closely and go for the big idea with this graph. I promise to stick to lists in the future!)

You can also see that, although I technically returned from vacation, I am still solidly in “I am never coming back” mode. This is what August does to you. June and July are fine with their steady decline into sanity and rest, with the occasional spike for ambitious summer goals or pre-vacation prep. Those spikes are temporary. But, August?! August starts in vacation mode, sucks you into “I am never coming back” only to kick you in the face with the school year which sends you directly into panic mode. It’s all extremes and swings in the wrong direction with August.

Because I am steadfastly looking behind, let’s talk about something that was (and ignore all things that will be, like school). Summer reading programs are coming to an end, like everything else summer related. The due dates for those precious pieces of paper are quickly closing in. This summer, my kids participated in three reading programs this summer: the library, Barnes and Noble, and Half Priced Books. Here’s how it went.

  • Public Library – Unsurprisingly, I loved this program. The biggest difference maker with the library is that they had something available for each person in our family, no matter their age. The younger kids earned a little trinket for each form they completed and then earned a free picture book when they got to the maximum number of forms. The older kids earned library bucks after a specific number of hours reading and then there were prizes they could buy with their “money”. Again, there was a maximum amount they were able to earn. After that point, kids were given the option of reading several more hours and earning a free book. It was the perfect combination of enough for the average reader and motivating for the advanced reader…a very rare thing for reading programs.
  • Barnes and Noble – This program was fine. It definitely has its flaws but two of my kids got free, brand new books from it…turns out, that makes up for a lot of flaws! Barnes and Noble only had programs for school age kids and their “program” consisted of asking the kids five different questions about their favorite five books. Once they turn in their form with the answered questions on it, they got a free book. They do not get *any* free book, but can pick one from a predetermined list. If you are looking for a way to track your child’s reading over the summer, this is not it. However, if you want a free book, this is a very easy way to “earn” one.
  • Half Priced Books – Sadly, this was my least favorite. Their process of tracking minutes was frustrating and tedious. I found myself dreading keeping the forms filled out. In all fairness, part of my lack of motivation was discovering that the closest Half Priced Books to my house was actually very far away. I did like it that they allowed kids to do new forms twice and they gave $5 of store credit for each completed form. There is the potential for each child to earn up to $10 in store credit, which is quite a good deal.

Once everything was turned in and tallied up, here are the results (not including about 109 plastic coins, 2,000 stickers, and 12 popper frogs):

P1020450

While the kids are the ones who earned the loot, congratulations are in order for you, parents. You are done negotiating reading times, done trying to keep random sheets of paper from getting wrinkled, lost, colored on, ripped up, or thrown away, and done obsessively reminding your child to write down the book they just read. Well done!

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5 thoughts on “Summer Reading Programs Reviewed

  1. YIKES! Sounds like a lot of work! Well done on the perseverance of helping your kids love books and reading! That was a most important investment of your time and energy!

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  2. Those are the three we typically do! (Although I skipped Barnes and Noble this year. Two of my children get grumpy with the question-answering portion.) I think we ended up with 15 new or new-to-us books. Definitely worth the paper hassles! šŸ™‚

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