The best summer reading programs for NYC kids

In between camp and family getaways, make sure these summer reading programs find a way onto your kids' to-do lists.

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School might not be in session, but kids are definitely hitting the books. Thanks to these fantastic summer reading programs, youngsters will be introduced to new genres, authors and series. Not only is it a wonderful way for students to spend their time, but it's a great way to keep the brain cells going during the vacation months.

Even better? There are some pretty sweet incentives for finishing a novel, so don't be surprised if your crew decides to channel Rory Gilmore. 

That popular "I'm bored" phrase will be a thing of the past thanks to these exciting summer reading programs, so get the bookmarks ready! 

Need more vacation adventure? Book one of these family weekend getaways, make your way to the best strawberry picking and dine out with the best outdoor restaurants NYC offers. 

Best summer reading programs for NYC kids

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Brooklyn Public Library Summer Reading Program

BPL is catering its top prizes directly to little bibliophiles who complete a Summer Reading Gameboard or Summer Reading Challenge. Those who've filled out their charts with their selections will be entered into a drawing for a number of books personally chosen for them. Who doesn't like a personalized TBR list? Sign us up, too while you're at it! Learn more at  

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Queens Library's Summer Reading Challenge

Battle of the Bands? More like Battle of the Books! During Libraries Rock: Summer Reading 2018, little Queens residents are invited to log the books they've read into an online system, play exciting games at various events and of course, cast their vote for their favorite read of the summer. May the best book win! Learn more at

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New York Public Library's Summer Reading Program

Turn It Up this summer with the New York Public Library's reading challenge, inspired by music, creativity and of course, a good book. The main event will kick off on June 7 with a celebration at Stapleton Library in Staten Island. Following the festivities, little library goers are encouraged to keep the momentum going by reading for 20 minutes per day and recording their journeys in a packet the library provides. Once kiddos begin to fill up these sheets, they'll reach rock-star reading status. Learn more at  

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Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Barnes & Noble makes it super simple for kids to fall in love with reading. There are only a few steps required of kiddos before the redeem their end-of-summer literary prize: Record eight books in a Summer Reading Journal and explain what it is they love about each pick. Once that's complete, youngsters will need to head to their local store (up until Sept 3) with their to receive a free reading adventure for all of their hard work. (Participants will find choices on the back of the journals where they record their lists.) Learn more at   

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Poznyakov's Summer Reading Challenge

Sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, this summer reading program—rather listening program—is catered to teens 13 and up. With a 21st century spin on reading, the mission is to send participants two audiobook downloads per week to explore different types of stories. By signing up for the newsletter, teens will receive info on Thursdays at 7am about how to download that week's selections. Happy listening! Learn more at

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Chuck E. Cheese's Summer Reading Program

No child is willing to forgo some summer fun, and what's right is right—there's plenty of room for playing and reading. Parents can print out a reading reward calendar for their tykes, and once those papers are complete, bring 'em back to your local Chuck E. Cheese playspace so kiddos can reap the benefits—10 free tokens! That sounds like a great deal to us! Learn more at

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Scholastic's Summer Reading Program

The kid's publisher is known for bringing magic to literature, especially this summer. During the Magical Summer of Reading challenge—which runs from May 7–Sept 7—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. Please note that participants must be registered by an educator such as a teacher or librarian in order to join the fun. Learn more at   

More fun things to do

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian

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 eagerly follow their misadventures as they explore strange planets, meet aliens and gather feedback from listeners on where their intergalactic journey should take them next.

Peace Out


Even little ones need to feel calm and zen. Thanks to Peace Out, youngsters can tackle the subject of mindfulness as they're guided through activities, relaxing stories and breathing techniques. 


Dream Big

Adorable seven-year-old Eva Karpman and her mom Olga interview celebrities, entrepreneurs, award-winners and experts in a variety of industries to answer questions and encourage kids to dream big.

Stories Podcast

Older children who still want to hear a great story before drifting off to sleep will enjoy this storytelling podcast. Not only will they discover original tales and timeless classics, but they’ll also learn new vocabulary and cut back on screen time right before bed.


Eleanor Amplified

Part Lois Lane, part Nancy Drew, Eleanor Amplified is a radio host who will take kiddos along for her journey as she cracks the big story. Ideal for those ages 8–12, this podcast is a great way to introduce little ones to the journalism world in an inviting way.


Five Minutes with Dad

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—staying positive in school, losing a tooth, showing appreciation for your relatives, among other topics. You won't be able to resist this charming, relatable trio.



Storynory has it all—fairytales, myths, educational stories and even music and poetry for free.


Short & Curly

With a touch of humor and a helping of curiosity, Short & Curly focuses on ethics while exploring topics in pop culture, tech and everyday life. Some previous episodes include, "Was Robin Hood right? Should you rob the rich to help the poor?" and "What's the point of a school uniform?"—totally relevant as kids prepare for back-to-school season.


Little Stories for Tiny People

Wind down at the end of the night by tucking in, turning on the nightlight, grabbing a teddy and listening to original content from Little Stories for Tiny People. Think of this podcast as a bedtime story in audio form


Book Club for Kids

Tweens looking for new books to add to their collection will find new ones to dive into after listening in on this bi-weekly podcast. They’ll hear other kids chatting about a great story, along with other literary recommendations and celeb guests who will read an excerpt from the week’s chosen title.

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