Children should spend two to three hours a week practicing reading and literacy skills. Photo: Cottonbro Studio  

It’s hard to believe we’re already a month into summer — before we know it, the kids will be back in school. The last two weeks we’ve talked about ways to tackle summer slide, but please don’t feel guilty if you’ve been busy enjoying summer with your children. As August approaches, it’s the perfect time to tackle those reading goals. Fortunately, the city has no shortage of resources to help you do so.

DOE’s Guide to Summer Reading

Spending at least two to three hours a week reading and practicing literacy skills can help avoid summer slide. So, the Department of Education just released a great Guide to Summer Reading complete with book recommendations by grade level, tips for reading together, creating a space at home dedicated to reading and other resources. Firstly, families are encouraged to start with a reading goal. Some examples include:

  • Number of books to read
  • Number of pages to read
  • Time spent reading
  • Exploring new genres and new authors

See the full guide here.

Summer reading programs

All three library systems in New York City have their own summer reading programming to help keep families reading and combat summer slide. Each year, they create summer reading lists and host free and fun events. And if you’re a Hip Hop fan, this summer is even more exciting as all three library systems are celebrating the first 50 years of Hip Hop. In fact, each of them are even offering limited-edition library cards.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s summer reading booklist was created by librarians from local libraries. See the full list here. Brooklyn libraries also have grab-and go craft kits, storytime, movies, free summer meals, and more. Hip Hop enthusiasts should also check out the The Book of HOV exhibit at the central Library. The exhibit is free and features never-before-seen images and memorabilia from Jay Z’s life and career. There are even 13 limited-edition library cards that honor each of his albums. Learn more here.

The Queens Public Library’s summer reading programming is all about celebrating community, kindness and civic engagement. Their programming includes events and activities for all ages, a summer reading list, and a reading challenge. And be sure to snag their limited-edition Hip Hop library card available at all locations. Learn more here.

Librarians at the New York Public Library (NYPL) have also curated an expansive list of summer books for t kidsteens, and adults. There is also no shortage of storytimes, open play, art activities, and other fun events at branches across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. The NYPL is also offering up a limited-edition Hip Hop library card to celebrate 50 years of the genre. 

While there aren’t a ton of locations left, Barnes & Noble also offers a summer reading program for students in first through sixth grade. Students keep a journal of the books they’ve read over the summer and can earn a free book during the months of July and August. Learn more here.

Don’t forget about summer reading. Photo: Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash


Families with younger kids can take advantage of free storytimes across the city. The BrooklynQueens, and New York library systems each offer storytimes at their different locations. The New York City Parks Department also hosts a Storytime Under the Trees series and other free storytime events at parks across the city. If you’re lucky enough to still have a bookstore in your nabe, many of them also host storytimes. And the reading doesn’t have to cease once summer ends. The MET offers free storytime for kids 6 and under Saturday through Monday starting back up in September.

Free e-Books for kids

There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands, but e-books can be a great way to fit in some reading on the subway or on a car ride. Here are some ways to access free digital books on your tablet or phone:

SimplyE: SimplyE is the New York Public Library’s free e-reader app and has thousands of titles available to download. 

Nook: Barnes & Nobles offers free digital books for kids that download to the free Nook app. 

Kindle: Amazon offers some free digital books for kids on its Kindle app. 

Nicole Perrino is the founder of, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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