Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Photo: iStock

Summer reading programs: Local libraries offer activities, prizes

Stay busy, learn something, win a prize!

Summer reading programs: What a perfect activity.

With longer days and fewer responsibilities (well, for some of us, anyway), there’s extra time to let books take us to faraway places or entertain us with fantastical tales. Kids can learn new words and ideas, and keep those minds fresh even while taking a break from the rigors of school.

Local libraries always get in on the fun (and make it more fun) with creative events, activities and enticements. Here’s the lineup of summer reading programs for 2023.

King County Library System

The KCLS summer reading program runs through Aug. 31 and is for all ages. Participants are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes per day, and that includes reading to someone else or listening to an audiobook. For kids under 5, early learning activities count. Keep track with a paper reading log (available at KCLS libraries) or with the Beanstack app.

Progress is tracked by marking a shape on the reading or activity log. Filling in 25 qualifies for a halfway prize: a KCLS Reader patch (kids can choose one of two designs by a local artist). Readers also will have their name displayed on their library’s Community Board. Getting to 50 shapes gets a special sticker added to the name display and also a specially designed journal (while supplies last!)

KCLS also plans a summer full of fun including arts and crafts workshops, music and magic programs, outdoor StoryWalks, STEM learning opportunities and more. “We are excited to kick off another summer of reading,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “And with KCLS’ recently expanded hours of operation, our community of readers can enjoy even more time at their library to browse for books, read with friends and participate in events.”

And if your kids (or you) need help finding what to read next, KCLS can help with its BookMatch personalized recommendations. Here’s how it works.

Seattle Public Library

SPL’s Summer of Learning program kicked off for its 104th year on June 8.  The theme, Time Travel Summer, encourages kids to explore where they’ve come from, where they are right now, and where they hope to be years from now.

As in previous years, it will include a guide that can be collected at any of the library’s 27 locations (or downloaded at The guide is filled with fun, activities, reading lists and more and will be available multiple languages. Participants will also get an activity board game and the chance to be locally “famous” at their library branch. The guide also includes a youth survey that can be returned to any library starting July 1 to receive a small prize.

Also: Save the date! All Summer of Learning participants and their families are invited to a free end-of-summer celebration at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. that will start at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27.

Need ideas for what to read? Seattle Public Library can help with its program Your Next 5 Books.

SPL also has Book Bingo, the summer reading program for adults (18+). It is presented in conjunction with Seattle Arts & Lectures. It encourages people to read (or listen to) books from a wide variety of categories and to keep track on a Book Bingo card. Submit cards by Sept. 5 for a chance to win prizes.

Everett Public Library System

“Find Your Voice” is the summer reading program theme at Everett Public Library System.  Tracking options are a bingo board or Beanstack ( Those completing the first five challenges can choose a free book and get a voucher for an OL Reign ticket. Every five challenges finished earns a book and an entry into the grand-prize drawing for  Lenovo tablet.

Sno-Isle Libraries

Sno-Isle Libraries will kick off its summer reading program June 20 at Stanwood Library. Kid are invited to mix and match their favorite colors and create one-of-a-kind shirts for the summer. Shirts, dyes, materials and instructions for tweens and teens while supplies last. The summer program encourages kids to read or be read to for 10 hours over the summer. The reward: a free book! There are printable paper reading logs for both kids and teens; or a digital tracking option via Beanstack. They’re also offering virtual events, in-person events and a mindfulness bingo program for teens.

Tacoma Public Library

Tacoma Public Library’s theme this summer is “All Together Now!” Track reading either on paper or online. There also will be a variety of programs: in person, outdoor, virtual, take-home kits and more. Important to know about Tacoma’s program: It wraps up a little early: Saturday, Aug. 12. Also check out TPL’s summer reading lists by age: birth to preschool, chapter books, picture books, grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 8.

Pierce County Library System

Pierce County Library System‘s summer reading program is under way at its 20 locations and is also using the “All Together Now!” theme. Families can get  free activity booklets and grab-and-go activities to do at home, and there will be in-person events, too. The program runs through Aug. 31.

Summer reading programs at bookstores:

Half-Price Books is calling its summer program Summer Reading Camp. Geared toward preventing summer learning loss, the new-and-used bookstore chain encourages “campers” to visit their local store with an adult to pick up an interactive reading log and sticker sheet, while supplies last. Campers can earn $5 Bookworm Buck rewards by marking off the days they read in June and July. Interested campers can visit to receive reminders about important dates and to check out reading recommendations, craft ideas and cool activities for campers ranging in age from tots to teens. (Puget Sound-area locations in Tacoma, Tukwila, Bellevue, Redmond, Lynnwood and Everett, but this is an online program.)

Scholastic, purveyor of the beloved school book fair, has a summer reading program that runs through Sept. 7. It encourages kids to start and maintain a Reading Streak (great idea!), attend online author talks and other events and help Scholastic in its efforts to donate books to kids in underserved areas.

Barnes & Noble: This chain’s website is great for lists. For instance, if you’ve got a bored kid or teen, point them to 100 Books of Summer for Teens and YALocal in-person locations: Bellevue, Alderwood, Northgate, Southcenter, Federal Way, Woodinville.



More book news in Seattle’s Child

Tips for preventing “summer brain drain”

Favorite summer reads: University Book Store picks


About the Author