Reading Programs...?

Hello all!

I have to set up reading programs for the summer and am looking for help. Below is what I have come up with, but I need some fine tuning and of course any other suggestions are appreciated as well.



o   Summer reading list with a prize for a completed list. Each month there would be a list of books to read (five books? Or book amount/age level? And prize for completion)

o   A reading program, similar to Book It!, with a reward attached to the number of books read (probably a school year/year-round initiative) and/or a reading book contest where each book read will equate to one entry in a grand prize drawing / maybe a ticket per book and then a table of what multiple tickets can ‘buy’

o   Library Bingo, each bingo square would have a book and the child would have a time period to complete a row, drawing from a prize box upon completion, black out would be entered into a bigger prize

o   Couples reading – Two months long (July-August?), a couple reads one book (either personal growth books (drawing closer to Christ) or relationship/marriage books), or two books (?), and discuss, logs there summary of the book(s), are entered into a drawing for a date night prize (prizes for others as well) - for the date night prize I was thinking a gift cert to a schmancy restaurant in the area (maybe something in addition) and for the everybody prize maybe a couples devo? or what else could each participant couple get?



Prize options:

* 6$ gift cert to Culver's (local fast food)

* Book (but what kind of book: a stack they could pick from, a devotional, some other option)

* little things (bracelets, stickers, small puzzles/games, small toy, candy, etc)

* other options?


Lastly could I do the summer reading list in addition to the Book It! style program? I suppose as long as the books counted toward the Book It!, as that would be an ongoing thing and the list would just be per month. Or should they be combined into one big reading list with 'tickets' for each book and prizes per ticket amount?




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  • Amanda, I am late to the conversation, but think your summer reading program ideas are all great ones and hope that your summer has been going well! I may try the couples’ reading idea at some point, maybe for winter leading up to Valentine’s Day, but doubt that I could get anyone to write a book summary!
    For kids’ prizes, I think books are usually the best and if your budget will allow it, gift cards to a bookstore allow kids to select something they will enjoy reading. I also like Sharin’s prizes of activity time with ministry staff members.
    This summer, my kids’ SRP consists of a very simple reading log and goal which ties in with my church’s 150th anniversary next month. Kids, birth and up, can read or have read to them any thing they choose for at least 10 minutes a day for 15 days over the summer to reach an easy goal of 150 minutes. Their prize, after logging at least 15 days, is a one dollar coin and a 50 cent coin presented in a small ziplock labelled with the anniversary info and logo. For the anniversary weekend celebration, I think we will have drawings from the returned logs for some donated book prizes. I hope to get a group picture of those who participate to include in our church time capsule. We are also hosting weekly story times this summer and have invited several guest readers to be storytime presenters. These events have been fun and we have time for checking out books for summer reading afterwards.
  • For the past few years our "prizes" have been experiences with the ministers and staff. The top three readers in each age group gets the opportunity to do something special with a member of the ministerial staff.

    For example:



    Lunch and a movie



    Park Day

    The response has been tremendous and the kids love being able to have relational time with the ministers.

    • Ok, this is fascinating to me.  How many kids (and is it just kids?) does this include? (3? 6? 9?) and how many pastors/staff to divide them between?  Is it awkward for any of the kids or adults?  How big is your church?  I'm impressed that your pastors have time to do this - or do they do something less time-consuming, like breakfast?


      • So through the years we’ve tried different things to track reading. We’ve learned that no matter how you track it the little kids (rising K-rising 2nd) can’t compete with 3-5th graders. So we separate the two age groups for prizes. 

        We track hours read for each week. The parents can enter the info on our website (google forms) and I calculate it weekly. So both age groups will have 3 top readers for the week. 

        Ahead of of time I coordinate with the ministers for a date and a prize idea. As an example our senior pastor will host breakfast for his week’s winners (on a date that he agrees to). Our associate pastor is athletic and has taken one age group (usually the older group) to play tennis on a Sunday morning before church. Our music minister will usually do lunch with a group, our children’s minister will take the younger group to the children’s museum. 

        The dates and prizes  are all set ahead of time. It happens sometimes that a winner won’t be able to participate in a prize and if that’s the case we will try to make it so all winners can participate, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. 

        We have a fairly large church-not a mega church. There are usually 30-35 kids that participate in our summer reading. We have had a minister not participate because he isn’t really a kid person, but the rest of them have loved it. Our youth minister loves it because he can get to know some of the kids that will be coming into youth. We have a senior pastor, associate pastor, youth minister, children’s minister, music minister, assistant music minister, and an intern that all participate. Additionally our church services are televised and the broadcast crew participates in a “press pass” prize. The kids get to run the sound and switch cameras, etc. 

        Im typing this on my phone, so hopefully there are no egregious spelling errors or formatting problems. 

        And hopefully this makes sense. And I’m happy to answer any other questions. 

        • That is very interesting and I am amazed that you typed it all on your phone!!!

          I like that the pastor in question has a group of kids, and I love that several of your pastors participate! What a cool idea.  Thanks for sharing!

  • We have done a number of reading programs for our library.  For adults, we have done a reading challenge where they receive a bookmark with 16 different categories/genres of books on them, and a period of time- generally six weeks - in which to read as many as possible.  Categories include things like: historical fiction, mystery, young adult, a book from a bottom shelf, a book that you chose for the cover, a book by an author who is new to you, the first book in a series, etc.  We generally give prizes for the top three, as in, the first three people to complete the challenge.  Prizes are usually a gift card to a book store, or a cool mug that is book-related, or some other book-related item.

    For kids, we've done Book Bingo, where we created bingo cards for the different age groups and they had six or seven weeks to complete the card and track how many pages they read.  We gave prizes in various age groups for those who completed the card, and who read the most pages.

    Last year, we did a program we called Reading by the Numbers.  We created 7 different sheets (one for each week of the program), each with a large number on it (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) that was divided into six blocks.  In each block was an assignment, four of which were a specific type of book (mystery, series book, Bible Story, etc), and two of which were things like "write about a book you read", "draw a picture about a book you read", "read under a tree", "read in the car", "read to a younger child", etc.  

    Prizes for kids have been: coupons to local businesses (I've spent a lot of time on the phone collecting these), stuff from Oriental Trading,  -- all of these are for when they complete a small goal like a row of the bingo card or one number sheet.  For those who finish the whole thing, we give books or gift cards to a book store.

    This year we have created a program called Choose Your Own Adventure.  For each of four age groups, we created 10 different Adventure Cards, with cool names like: Author! Author!; Whodunnit?; I Can Read An Easy Reader; Parables Tell A Story; Children of the King; A Dewey Decimal Escapade.  On each card is an assignment to read 2-5 books related to the title of the Adventure (the number depends on the age level - this program is for kids pre-school through adult).  They can choose whichever cards they want but can only do any card two times (we want them to branch out).

    I think you have some good ideas!  I'm intrigued by your couples' idea.

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