5 Games to Encourage Summer Reading

With the school year ending, getting students to sit down and read can be challenging—not to mention the dreaded summer slide the following autumn. But, with these 5 fun approaches, reading can become more engaging for students. And for those who are less reading-inclined, get them involved with other means of learning!

1. Play Reading Bingo

Create a Bingo sheet with reading challenges. This can mean books with certain themes, poems of a certain length, or short stories/plays from a list. When school resumes, students who have completed a row, column, or diagonal on their Bingo sheet get a prize. Anyone who successfully completes a blackout (all squares completed) gets a prize.

Here are some suggestions for your Bingo squares:

2. Have a Goodreads Competition

If you’re willing, have students friend you on Goodreads. The goal of the game is to read as many pages as you can all summer. Each milestone reached equals one prize (i.e., 100 pages, 500 pages). Give certificates to students who participate in the challenge.

  • Have students mark their progress every Friday all summer
  • Award medals (bronze, silver, gold) to students who reach certain benchmarks
  • Give big prizes to those who out read the teacher!

3. Host a Movie Reading Challenge

If you have a particularly friendly or opinionated class, this works really well. Use a list of books that have been adapted into movies. Some examples include Black Beauty, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Scarlet Letter. Students can watch the movie of their choice and read the book in any order they choose. Then ask them to respond to the following questions:

  • How is the book different from the movie?
  • Which one, in your opinion, was better?

Set up a Google survey where students get to rank if they like the book or the movie more. The top movie can be watched in class with popcorn come autumn!

This is not a school assignment—opinions can run free!

4. Create Lifelong Learners

Students learn in different ways, and summer reading competitions can be difficult without differentiated instruction and alternative learning approaches. Instead of just emphasizing reading, tell them about other great educational opportunities. They’re all around us, especially during the summer.

  • Those who like to listen to things can try podcasts, Shakespeare in the Park, plays, or TED Talks
  • Those who are visual learners can read comics, visit an art museum, or watch documentaries

5. Have a Summer Reading Relay

Have students create groups of 3-5 people. The goal is for each group to read the most books, collectively. These groups can decide whether they will each read different books or different chapters of the same books. Ideally, this will get students talking about what they’re reading to each other, encouraging social reading as a habit that will continue to grow.

  • The group that reads the most books together wins a small prize.
  • If the class collectively reaches a reading goal, the whole class gets a MEGA prize.
  • To defend students from getting stuck with all of the group work, individuals who read the most books can also win a small prize.
  • Remember that this is not an assignment!

Depending on what each students is interested in, there are a variety of prize options that include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

  • A free book
  • Bookmarks
  • Certificate, medal, etc.
  • A pizza party for all the participants
  • Independent reading/work day
  • A bookstore gift card

Do you like these ideas but don’t like our examples? Check out our full collection of expert-annotated texts for a rich reading experience.