Summer is here! PJ Library—the nonprofit that sends 240,000 free high-quality books to children across North America each month—is offering summer reading tips that’ll make it easy for families to integrate reading into their everyday summer schedules.

Whether it’s slipping books into a beach bag, taking advantage of the public library’s cool air conditioning or taking the kids out for a reading picnic, there are many ways to make sure your family keeps reading all summer long:

  • Take books with you: Toss books in your beach bag, your vacation carry-on, or in the stroller. On hot days at the park, encourage your child to take a minute enjoying some shade with a book of their choice. If you’re packing for a vacation, make a big deal out of selecting a special “vacation read” together with your child
  • Read aloud together: Studies show that children whose parents read aloud to them have a leg up on literacy and reading comprehension. Feel free to read aloud to children of all ages—make silly voices, take turns, stop to answer questions your child might ask. You’ll have fun and you’ll be increasing your child’s vocabulary while reinforcing a love of reading and stories.
  • Go to the library: Local libraries often offer inexpensive or free children’s programming throughout the summer. Hit up a program at your local library, or take a break from the summer heat to visit the children’s section. If your child is old enough, sign them up for their very own library card. Encourage your child to make their own selections at the library from the varied media available, such as books, CDs, DVDs, and games.
  • Let kids choose: Let your children pick out what they want to read. If your school has a summer reading list, make sure to give them some free-choice materials as a reward for working through their list. Don’t shy away from unconventional reading materials, like magazines or graphic novels, either!
  • Make it social: Join a summer reading challenge or a children’s book group (or start your own). This way you can build playdates and making new friends into your summer reading.
  • Have a reading picnic: Grab a blanket, a few friends, some tasty portable snacks, and a favorite stack of books. Find a nice place to sit and nosh on your treats while listening to stories or taking turns reading aloud together. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray!
  • Make “story stones”: Collect some stones either from your backyard, a nature walk, or a trip to the beach. Decorate each individual stone by painting it, adding stickers, or drawing on it with markers. Once the stones are decorated, mix them up in a bag or box and then use the randomly drawn stones to inspire stories. Players can each draw one stone and build on a story together, or a solo player can draw several random stones and improvise a story based on the images they see.
  • Keep count: Use a summer reading journal to log and rate all the books read this summer. Keep it on the refrigerator to keep kids engaged, excited, and talking about summer reading!

Looking for a few good books to begin the summer? Visit the PJ Library Amazon storefront to find some acclaimed, engaging books for all ages:

For 2- to 6-year-olds:

  • Until the Blueberries Grow“: Until the blueberries grow…until the grapes are ripe…until the snow falls…until the flowers bloom…Ben tries to convince his great-grandfather to stay in his house just a little longer as the two celebrate a yearly cycle of Jewish holidays together in this book about which Kirkus Reviews said, “This sweet story of family abounds with food, flowers, and quality time with loved ones.”
  • Mishpuchah!“: Baa! Moo! Mishpuchah? When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives at a farm full of animals, each with their own way of speaking, communication seems impossible…but family is something everyone can understand! Toddlers will enjoy quacking, crowing, and neighing along with this brightly illustrated picture book.
  • Laila Tov, Moon“: Every night, a little girl looks out her window and says “laila tov” (goodnight) to the moon. Sometimes it looks like a banana, an egg, a bouncing ball…what will it look like tomorrow night? Through this book’s whimsical illustrations, with clever die-cuts throughout, young readers learn about the phases of the moon and the monthly Jewish holiday of Rosh Chodesh.

For 9- to 12-year-olds:

  • Detour Ahead“: Every weekday morning, 12-year-old Gilah takes the same public bus to her school in Washington, D.C., and this year, she’s finally allowed to ride alone. On the very first day, the bus swerves too close to a bicyclist, and Gilah finds the courage to alert the driver to stop the bus. Without a bike, 13-year-old Guillermo starts riding the H4 with Gilah. This is the story of a Salvadoran American boy who is a poet, a neurodiverse Jewish girl who loves breakdancing, and how they navigate the detours of their families, their friendship, and their lives.
  • Scout’s Honor and the Cave of Courage“: Josh has survival skills from years in the Boy Scouts, but will he be brave enough to save himself and his new Israeli friends from dangers lurking in an underground cave?

But summer doesn’t have to be just about reading! Along with these summer reading tips for families, we’d love to share PJ Library’s Summertime Bingo, a free printable that makes a fun game out of dozens of great ideas—from building a sandcastle and helping to cook a healthy meal for the family to having a dance party, and, yes—reading books.

For those who want to bring Judaism into their homes, please also check out and sign up for your free monthly subscription for all children 0-12 in your household. We think your readers would love to be included in this free program, and it not only will encourage reading, it will also teach first introductions to Jewish values and culture, and inspire families to create new traditions in their homes.

This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and JewishBoston assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here. MORE