Best summer reading programs for NYC kids
Your lil’ reader will have no shortage of book fun this summer at the New York Public Library! With space-themed events going on all-season long, they'll have many opportunities to blast off into other worlds of literary wonder! Youngsters can play the Read for the Star Game by setting a goal to read for a certain number of minutes each day—and once they've completed the challenge, they can visit their neighborhood library to complete bonus activities and earn prizes. Additionally, the Library will reward online completed activities with gifts such as swag bags, stickers and pencils. If the kiddos are eager to chat with a scientist, visit one of the Library’s many events, dubbed “Stories with a Scientist”, to learn more about the profession! Learn more at nypl.org.
Launch your tiny tot into “A Universe of Stories” this summer with Brooklyn Public Library’s Summer Reading Program (which kicked off on June 1). Take a little field trip to one of the library’s locations for fun, space-themed activities like story time, live music and scavenger hunts. Now to the fun (and free) stuff! After completing the Summer Reading Challenge, your kiddos can talk to a librarian about how to receive a voucher for two complimentary tickets to an upcoming event at Barclays Center or NYCB LIVE. Additionally, those who complete their challenges will have the chance to enter a raffle ticket drawing for a free iPad. Sounds like a win-win to us! Learn more at bklynlibrary.org.
This summer, head over to the Queens Public Library to indulge all of your reading fantasies, as well as your astronaut dreams! The Library will be holding events like the Battle of the Books for teens who are keen on putting their reading skills to the test. And if a battle doesn’t peak your interest, there will be a total of 17 other events (which are space-themed), such as the NASA Challenge and the Alien Invasion in a Box Challenge. May the best astronaut-bibliophile win! Learn more at connect.queenslibrary.org.
Barnes & Noble offers a simple yet rewarding reading program for pint-sized bibliophiles this summer! Kiddos can read eight books and record them in their Summer Reading Journal—all they need to do is jot down their favorite part of the story and explain why they love it. Then, they'll bring their completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store from Aug 1–Aug 31 to choose a free reading adventure. Time to get going on the challenge! Learn more at barnesandnoble.com.
Sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, this summer reading program—rather listening program—is catered to teens. With a 21st century spin on reading, the program's mission is to send participants two audiobook downloads per week. By signing up for the newsletter, teens will receive info on Thursdays at 7am Eastern Time about how to download the weekly selections. Happy listening! Learn more at audiobooksync.com.
The kid's publisher is known for bringing magic to literature, especially this summer. During the Read-a-Palooza challenge—which runs from May 6–Sept 6—kids will log in to record the books they've read and unlock online prizes as they journey further and further through their TBR list. Learn more at scholastic.com.
More fun things to do
The goofball science podcast Wow in the World is packed with as much comedy as information. Hosted by Mindy, a klutz with a time machine, and Guy, her uptight foil, Wow in the World takes on serious scientific inquiries and makes learning fun—even for parents. (After all, the podcast is from NPR.) The expanding cast of silly characters, led by Reggie the carrier pigeon, keeps the episodes fresh. A few listens and your kiddo will want to be a Wowzer, too.
A debate show for kids and families from the makers of Brains On!, Smash Boom Best takes two ideas, smashes them together and lets you decide which one is best. It teaches critical thinking, and how to take oppositional viewpoints. It also is a lot of fun. Past topics include Aliens vs Robots, Pizza vs Tacos and Invisibilty vs Flying.
Indoctrinate your tykes with this weekly playlist of “indie music for indie kids.” Not only will children enjoy starting the day listening to music made for kids, but parents will be delighted to discover that age-appropriate tracks from some of their favorite bands routinely make the cut. Why not off start the day (dancing) on the right foot?
If you have a budding scientist on your hands then Tumble is an absolute must. Experts in the field stop by to discuss their own work, uncover phenomenons and ask questions that will inspire curious minds. This podcast will make your kids fall in love with science.
Five Minutes with Dad is not unlike the conversations that happen in your family. You'll love how this pop and his two kids tackle everyday issues, from staying positive in school, to losing a tooth, to showing appreciation for your relatives. The hosts are as charming as they are relatable.
Here's how Story Pirates works: Kids supply the ideas and the characters, then sketch comedians bring the tales to life. While the stories are good and silly, the performances are terrific fun. Even better? You can also see their live shows on stage in NYC and around the country!
Imagine the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show crossed with Nova and told like an olde-timey radio show and you have the Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd. it follows the journeys of the kind Dr. Floyd and the wicked Dr. Steve. The two are always at odds as they lead listeners on adventures that cover history, geography and science—a fun and unique way to spice up school subjects.
Do your kiddies have a burning question? Perfect! Send 'em in! Brains On! finds a different expert for each episode who will address tots' curiosity. Anything from animal farts (yuck) to narwhals have been covered!
Take a sci-fi trip with Finn Caspian, his friends and their pet robots as their hurl through space aboard the Famous Marlowe 280 Interplanetary Exploratory Space Station. Kids will follow their misadventures as they explore strange planets, meet aliens and gather feedback from listeners on where their intergalactic journey should take them next.
Storyteller Eric James O'Keefe turns kids' questions into wacky scenarios in What If World, so if your tots are inquisitive, send in their question and let the fun unfold from there!