This summer, encourage readers to step outside their comfort zone and try a reading challenge. Create a checklist of goals from which participants can choose to complete the challenge. The best reading challenges get readers to expand their reading horizons and make connections between books and the world around them. All ages can take part in completing a reading challenge, and there are so many great ideas to get started.  

Here are sample challenges for four age groups: preschool, grades K-2, grades 3-5, and grades 6-12. Use these just as they are or adjust them to create challenges that will speak to your community! 


  • Read an information book about a fascinating animal.  
  • Try the series Whose Are These by Sue Tarsky and see if you can guess who belongs to the tails, ears, feet, and nose you see. 
  • Read a book based on a song! Search GX Songs AND RL 8.
  • Act out your favorite story. Grab some stuffed animals or make your own puppets to help tell the story. 
  • Read at least one book about someone different from you. Browse our "All Kinds of Lives" Recommended Reads lists for ideas or search ND "Recommended Reads" AND "All kinds of lives" AND RL 8.

Grades K-2 

  • Read a non-fiction book about your favorite animal. Create your own story based on the animal to tell with words or pictures. 
  • If you could be any animal, which would you pick? Read a few books from the What If series by Sandra Markle before you decide.  
  • If you could combine two animals, which ones would they be? Draw a picture of your animal mash-up and write a story about it. 
  • Find a fairy tale collection and read some fairy tales from around the world. Search GX Fairy tales
  • Read a book that is set in a different time period. Search SW and the time period of interest. Example: SW 1940s.  

Grades 3-5 

  • Read a fractured fairy tale and write your own. Search GX Fractured fairy tales and folklore AND RL 4. 
  • Write a sequel to a fairy tale, imagining what comes next after happily ever after.
  • Design a new cover for your favorite book.  
  • Read about weird animals with The World of Weird Animals books by Jess Keating. 
  • Read a book that won a book award this year. Search: AW Y AND RL 4 AND PY 2020.
  • Read at least one book where the character has a different background or ethnicity than you. Browse our "All Kinds of Lives" Recommended Reads lists for ideas or search ND "Recommended Reads" AND "All kinds of lives" AND RL 4.

Grades 6-12 

  • Try your hand at recording an audiobook. Read part of your favorite book and consider using different voices, music, or sound effects.   
  • Read a book that won a book award this year. Search: AW Y AND RL 2 AND PY 2020.
  • Enjoy an information book about animals. Try one of these award winners: search GX Animal books AND AW Y AND (RL 1 OR RL 2).
  • Fairy tales are a staple of many childhoods, but what happens after Happily Ever After? Write or illustrate what comes next. 
  • Read at least one book by an author of color. 
  • Read a book with an LGBTQ+ character. NoveList recommends choosing an #OwnVoices story written by an author with lived experience. Search AP LGBTQIA diverse AND AP Own voices AND RL 2.

Put the challenges you choose on a bookmark, brochure, BINGO board, etc. Encourage readers to check off the challenges they complete. Consider offering a small prize for readers who complete the challenges. LibraryAware customers can make use of a variety of ready-made templates to make this easy. Here's a sample using the Grades K-2 list:

summer reading bingo image

Download bingo board here

To find booklists and other content related to the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme, just type Tails and Tales into a NoveList search box and click on the Lists & Articles tab! 

This post is a modified version of an article in NoveList. To view the whole article, search for UI 452439 in the NoveList database.  

Sarah Bean Thompson is a Youth Services Manager for Springfield-Greene County (MO) Library. She is a self-proclaimed geek and loves board games and Star Trek. Sarah was born to be a librarian — her first word was “book!” She is passionate about readers’ advisory and loves sharing books with readers as well as planning storytimes and programs at her library.