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Summer Reading Challenge & Printable Log

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Summer Reading Challenge & Book Log

Summer Reading Challenge for you

Do you remember when libraries hosted really good reading challenges? Maybe I’m being nostalgic, but the offerings from the summer “reading” programs do not feel like much of a challenge lately.

I won’t go into too much negativity about the current programs, but instead will offer you what I thought was the cat’s meow back when I was little.

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My Fond Memories

When I was little, I adored my public library. My elementary school was right across the street from the cute little town library. Our class would march over to the library for story hour.

We had a lady who read books to us for story time and she had this little bunny puppet who would read to us. It was the best – I mean, you combine leaving the school building, with the excitement of lots of books and stories – just so much fun.

The town library itself had an aura of mystery to it to – this was in the era of “SHHHH!!!” and card catalogs and librarians who knew everything without a COMPUTER! Can you imagine? The building itself too, was oddly mysterious because as a kid, you really only were supposed to go into the kids corner. And the building had all these nooks and crannies. It even had an ivy-covered outdoor garden courtyard that was only used on special occasions.

Anyway, one year, they announced a new summer reading program. If you read 25 books, you could go to the end-of-summer party in the courtyard!

Challenges past

When I was little, I enjoyed challenges. In retrospect, I think I was good at figuring out how to game the system – if there was a prize at the end, how could I get it as easily as possible?

Read 25 books? No problem. I was reading before 1st grade, so reading was easy. I picked the 25 shortest books I could find.

What was this old program like?

What I was supposed to do

This particular challenge required that you fill in a book log for each book read and then went into the library and showed your list as you finished a book or two. She would ask you about the book to see if you really read it. And then you’d get a sticker for each book you read.

Well, after 15 books or so that were probably four grade levels below my true reading level, the nice librarian “suggested” that I pick harder books and showed me where to find them.


It all turned out all right

It was fine anyway. When I heard there might be a special prize for reading the most books, I kept churning out the books even though they were much closer to my reading level. I think I started the Nancy Drew series that summer and the Railroad Children series.

So, I easily made the requirement that got me the ticket to the party. The party was magical. And there was cake. What could be better?

That’s the backstory to this reading challenge.

Today’s DIY reading challenge

Here’s the big picture of what to do in this summer reading challenge (with free book log!)

1. Book Log

Each participant keeps a book log. Track every book, author, and date completed.

2. Narrate

Each participant should regularly narrate a few of the books read. Maybe every couple of books, or every week, or every time you get new books from the library – something that makes sense. Don’t wait until the end of summer.

This is a high-level overview-type of narration – similar to the book jacket description. Takes a minute or so.

3. Get a sticker

Fill up a goal page with the stickers for each book read. Alternatively, you can combine the sticker page with the book log.

4. Reach your goal

When you complete your challenge, set a new goal if there is more time.

5. Celebrate at the end of summer with a Book Party

Again, who doesn’t like cake?


What participants need to start this challenge

What the Parent needs to run this DIY challenge

  • Select and Print one Book Log and one Goal Tracker per participant (or select and print the combined Log/Goal Tracker).
  • Help set the goals for each reader.
  • Select your own goal and print a set of logs for yourself. It’s always good to set an example.
  • Purchase stickers.
  • Plan the end-of-year party now. Set a date. Have the party outside. Make cake.
  • Help your child plan an activity related to a book they have read.
  • Plan an outdoor activity related to a book the whole family has read.
  • If you’re traveling, get a family read-aloud on CD to listen to in the car together.
  • If you can, prepare some outside reading spots, like a hammock or camp chair.
  • Tell the “rules” of the challenge to the participants.
  • Identify who can be the “listeners” of the narration so that someone listens to your narrations also.
    • Listeners should be authorized to listen and give stickers. A good question for the listener to ask is “What was your book about?” Another one: “Why did you like/dislike it?”

Variations on the Challenge


  • Select a theme for the summer. Coordinate with stickers and party decorations as well as some book selections. Here are some ideas or come up with your own.
    • Summer Themed
    • Beach Party
    • Wonders of Nature
    • OR – one of your own interests or ideas.

Get with others

  • If you join with another family in the challenge, you can multiply the fun at the party.
  • Others can join you in field trips or other outdoor locations.

The Charlotte Mason (CM) Theme Challenge Option

  • Select a book from each of CM’s 27 or so subjects. Use this handy checklist.
    • What I like about this idea is that by selecting a book from a genre that you are not used to, you expand your connections.
    • Even if it is a non-fiction subject, you can often find interesting children’s books on the subject. I enjoy well-written books, even at the picture book level.

Remember, as Charlotte Mason said:

“The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite.”

Charlotte Mason


Keep the whole thing relaxed and let your kids select the books they want to read (with as much direction as fits your family – remember that helpful librarian who aided me by making sure my reading was challenging enough!)

Alternate “easy” books with one that challenges a bit.

Teach your kids that they can be reading more than one book at a time. You may need some more bookmarks.

Allow “books on tape” and picture books even if they are too easy to read for your reader.

The point of the challenge is to keep reading over the school break and to have some fun doing things out of normal routine.

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