It is officially summer, a time when brains turn off and devices turn on right? Um… no. Keep your kids learning this year with some good ol’ fashioned summer reading incentives. The trick is to get them to think that reading was their idea all along.

It’s painful for me to think of my kids brilliant brains sitting dormant all summer long when I know it’s so important to keep them exercising those muscles. Important, but not easy. My kids look forward to summer break with so much anticipation. The last thing they’re going to choose to do in their spare time is read. Most kids do not, of their own volition curl up with a good book. That’s where bribery summer reading incentives can come in handy.

I started this tradition when my kids were little and they have always loved it.

Summer Reading Incentives

  • At the beginning of the summer I take a lined sheet of paper for each kid, put their name at the top, and number the lines going down on the left side of the paper.
  • Then I randomly place stars next to a few of the numbers.
  • Every time they read a book they write down the title of the book on one of the lines.
  • When they write a title on a line with a star on it, they get to pick a prize from our prize basket.
  • I keep my eye out for cool prizes for a few months prior to the end of the school year. I don’t spend too much money but I do try get things they will really want.

The amount of titles required for a prize will vary based on age and reading level.  My kindergartner will be able to read 1-3 books a day so his list will require much more titles than my older boys who are reading chapter books.  This year my kindergartner could also use some practice writing so I’m going to include writing letters to friends and family in place of a book.

This year’s prize basket is particularly amazing.  I have included things that will be enticing for each of their ages.

It’s so fun to watch my kids get excited about reading.  It’s always a big deal when somebody gets to pick a prize.  They all gather round anticipating a chance to share the earned toy, and also hoping they don’t pick the item they’ve had their eye on. You might be surprised what they choose. I have picked out items specifically for a certain child and had then not care about it at all but then another kid can’t wait to get that thing.

Prize Ideas

Summer Reading Incentives

  1. Gift Cards (movies, ice cream, Dollar Store – I will do $5 and $10 gift cards depending upon the place)
  2. Stuffed Toys
  3. Water Guns
  4. Earbuds
  5. Film for their Polaroid
  6. Lego Building Sets
  7. Superhero Apparel
  8. Art Supplies
  9. Scented Bathroom Items
  10. Portable Power Supply

This year the highlight of the prize box is a IDO3D printer pen. Every single one of the kids has “called” it so I think that it will be the first thing to go. Good thing I got two of them! With this pen they can create amazing 3D structures such as buildings, houses, bridges and more. I think I’ll include 2 or 3 ink refills too. Plus you can get free art courses at to help you on the way. These are so fun but you have to remember that it is art and practice and patience are key!


Summer Reading Incentives

Here are some fun and creative videos to help make some easy items to get you started:

Let us know what you add to your reading prize box!