Reading is one of the most important things to pass on to our children, IMHO. I spent my entire childhood with a book in my hand and so far my kiddos are following in my footsteps quite well.
Summer Reading Programs not only encourage children to read, but reward them as well. My city's library (Louisville, KY) has one every year for kids from birth to 5th grade. We began participating in 2008 with the older two kids and Spongebob is joining in for the first time this year. The kids read 10 books(or in Spongebob's case, have them read aloud.)They keep a log and turn it in for a backpack, coupons for things like Frostys, etc. The backpacks are pretty sweet. One year they got a guitar-shaped backpack, another year a silver space backpack, and last year a smaller green bag with a lizard. Perfect size for their Leapster 2s and about three games still in the cases. Check out this year's backpack (not my kid, picture is from the library site):
Isn't that cool? It's a pretty good size, too. So we are working on our lists now. Princess has three read, Lightning has two and I read one to Spongebob so far. I used to impose a strict 20-book minimum so that each kid listened to ten different books. However, this year the older two not only wrote their own names on their logs, but they are also reading the vast majority of their books by themselves. My little library nerd heart is full to bursting at that. They were reading together earlier, with a book Princess already read. She was helping him read it for his list. It was precious. Didn't last too long, of course.
Check your local library for a Summer Reading Program. They are so fun and a great way to spend time with the kiddos.
If you have a Half Price Books in your town, they are doing a "Feed Your Brain" Summer Reading Program, too. Kids 14 and under can read and log 600 minutes of reading time over the months of June and July and turn in the log for a $5 off coupon to the store and a chance at a $20 gift card to the store. We are doing this one as well.
Also, Barnes & Noble has a Summer Reading Program here. Kids can read and log eight books and choose from a list of books to receive for free. Parents can enter to win a Nook Color. I'd root that sucker in a heartbeat. E-readers aren't my thang, I love PAPER books. :D I don't see any age limits on this one, but the prize books are divided into Grades 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6. The selections are sort of simple for the age groups-at least one in the Grades 1-2 section would be too boring for the older kids. But since this is an actual free book rather than a gift card/coupon, supplies are limited and you just get what you can get. I think just the older two will do this one, as they are supposed to tell who they'd recommend each book to. Spongebob would recommend them all to me, Daddy, Bob-bob or cat.
Know of any other Summer Reading Programs out there for kids? Leave me a comment and let me know!