Free Summer Reading Programs for LA and OC Kids

Books - Library - Summer - Reading - Schools - Programs

School's out for summer! Camps, vacations, and family visits are scheduled—or maybe you prefer a local, relaxing summer with lazy days spent at the beach or working on our 100 Things to Do with Kids in LA list. No matter what your family style, all kids can benefit from a summer reading program. Public libraries often have programs; but did you know that there are several other free programs for all ages, with prizes, certificates, and sometimes extra activities?

And don't worry—if your kids have assigned books to complete over the summer, those count in most programs. Whether you are on a plane, in a car, or lying next to a fan on a hot day, a good book can entertain. Sign up for a program today; your children's teachers will thank you.

Barnes and Noble
All Locations
Grades 1-6

Complete eight books, and chose a freebie from a pre-selected list. East peasy, right? Go to the link, download the reading log, and start reading. When eight books are logged, take your log to a Barnes and Noble store to claim your freebie. Though there is a sample of free book choices on the log, don't let your child get his or her heart stuck on one thing; there may be different choices at the store.

Book It Summer Reading Challenge
Grades K-6

This program has a goal of reaching 1 million minutes read, and your kids are encouraged to join in! Report daily minutes read, download activities, and chat with the Wimpy Kid characters. Kids who read 5 or more books during the challenge period have a chance to win prizes.

Chuck E Cheese
Participating Locations

Chuck E Cheese runs a variety of year-round reward programs. For reading, a child receives 10 free tokens after meeting his or her own reading goal 14 days in a row. Record-keeping sheets can be downloaded at the link above. There is a limit of one sheet redeemed per child per day, a food purchase is required, and child must be present at redemption.

DIY Summer Reading Camp
Online Materials
Targets ages 3–6

The Do-It-Yourself Summer Reading Camp, in cooperation with PBS Kids,  offers 10 weeks of themes and printable materials. Grab some books on the week's theme, and your child will have craft projects, fun worksheets, and puzzles. You must register with (free) to download materials.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Target Ages 0-13

For kids 0-13, Scholastic's Summer Challenge allows kids to log their reading minutes and download prizes and stories. The goal? For all the registered kids to beat last year's world record for minutes logged. If your school is participating, be sure to link in with the school's group; the top elementary and middle school each win an author visit. Parents and educators can log in and enter to win prizes, view suggested reading lists, and more.

Public Library Programs
The Collaborative Summer Library Program's 2015 theme is Read to the Rhythm. Many of the libraries around the country and around Los Angeles are basing their summer reading programs around these materials. Not all libraries are offering all three programs (and there is an adult program as well). If your favorite library system is not offering your preferred program, check other systems nearby. If your library is not included here, check in person. If you are registering for a library program, don't miss out on the Passport To Success—reading and visiting a library are just a small part of this LA-area field trip–based program.

Los Angeles Public Library
All Branches

Head over to your local branch to sign up, pick up a game board and free pencil. Kids who finish their board win a free book and a chance at a theme park ticket. Every branch will be hosting a variety of program events—music, arts and crafts, movies, dance, poetry, and more! Pick up a branch schedule at your branch, or see the systemwide calendar for kids or teens.

Los Angeles County Libraries
Local Branches and Online

Most smaller cities within LA County belong to the Los Angeles County Library system. Visit your local county library to sign up and get a calendar of events.

Orange County Public Libraries
Local Branches

Many of the smaller city libraries in the OC belong to the county system, the list of participating libraries is on the link above. To sign up you must go to a local branch, but check out the online event calendars to see upcoming events.

Burbank Public Library
Local Branches and Online
Infant through adult

Burbank's Every Hero has a Story theme includes reading at home and library programs with prizes and weekly entertainment. Burbank holds weekly 1-hour meetings for kids in grades 1–6 , and many activities for teens in grades 7–12. There are also programs for infants–K and adults.

Glendale Public Library
Local Branches
Infant–8th grade

Register, and then log 8 books read or listened to and receive a prize book. See the calendar of events for activities.

Long Beach Public Library
Local Branches and Online

LBPL's summer theme is Bam! Pow! Read! Every Hero Has a Story. Sign up, log your reading, and win prizes. Don't miss the variety of activities scheduled.

Monrovia Public Library
321 South Myrtle Avenue, Old Town Monrovia
All ages

Sign up, log your reading activities, and receive prizes and incentives which have been donated by businesses in the community. The library also offers children's programs.

Pasadena Public Library
Local Branches
Children, Teens, Adults

Sign up, attend programs, and log your attendance and books read—there are prizes, free books, and a grand prize drawing! Sign up online to get all of the details, and download a calendar of events.

Santa Monica Public Library
Local Branches
Infant and up

Ages 18 months and up are eligible for prizes at the 5, 10, and 15 hours reading levels—15 hours is a paperback of your choice (selection may vary). Don't miss the variety of events!

Originally published June 10, 2012