reading challenge for kids

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After I created a reading journal for my son and decided to be more intentional about our daily reading time, I realized that we also need a list of nice books to read together.

As libraries were closed during the lockdown, I used a digital library to search for lovely books for us to read every day.

We started using the Epic! app when the pandemic started, and my son loves it, so we use it even more now. It’s great to be able to access tons of children’s books anytime we want to discover new stories!

If you want to try it with your kids, you can join for free for 30 days here.

All the books on our reading list can be found on Epic!, so you’ll be able to easily access them using the app.

reading challenge for kids

How to start a 30-day reading challenge with your kids

We did our first reading challenge when my oldest son was a preschooler, and we’ve repeated it many times ever since.

You can use a reading challenge in many ways:

  • to connect with your kids during story time
  • to encourage kids to read every day
  • to start a daily habit of reading with your children
  • to make it fun for the kids to explore new books and discover new stories.

Here is how to plan a reading challenge for your kids:

1. Make a list of books you want to include in the challenge.

  • For young kids (ages 3-6), you can use the list of 30 books below.
  • For older kids, you can select a few short chapter books (or early chapter books) and read a few chapters every day.

(My son really enjoys the Dragon Masters series and the Dory Fantasmagory series.)

2. Prepare a special shelf or basket to store all the books in one place.

If you are using the Epic! app for the challenge, you can save the book on your Favorites list to have them at hand.

3. Download the reading tracker below, display it in your home, and use it every day to track your progress. (The file includes 2 trackers to choose from.)

4. Invite your kids to come up with an idea of how to celebrate at the end of the challenge. This will be a great motivation to stick with the challenge and complete all 30 days.

Here are some easy celebration ideas: pizza night at home, trip to their favorite museum or zoo, homemade cookies baked together, trip to the book store to choose any book they like, movie night with popcorn and treats.

30 days of reading for kids: Our book list

These books are great for kids aged 4-7, and are perfect for planning a daily read aloud with your little ones.

I included 3 categories on our list: books that inspire meaningful conversations (about feelings or different situations children face), lovely stories, and non-fiction books.

You can download the printable list at the end of the article.

Helpful links:

reading challenge for kids

Reading challenge for kids: Books that inspire meaningful conversations

These books are great for talking to kids about feelings and approaching different important topics (like bullying) in a playful way.

  • [ ] “A Pocket Full of Kisses” by Audrey Penn (a lovely story about a raccoon that is jealous of his baby brother and a mom who reassures him of her love)
  • [ ] “Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully” by Audrey Penn (a great story to start a conversation about bullying)
  • [ ] “The Lemonade Hurricane” by Licia Morelli (a story that teaches kids how to calm down when they get too agitated)
  • [ ] “I Love You Too” by Ziggy Marley
  • [ ] “Made for Me” by Zack Bush
  • [ ] “If I Could Keep You Little” by Marianne Richmond
  • [ ] “Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall (a lovely story about courage)
  • [ ] “Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3” by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan
  • [ ] “Niko Draws a Feeling” by Bob Raczka
  • [ ] “Caramba” by Marie-Louise Gay

Reading challenge for kids: Lovely stories

These stories are great for showing kids how many amazing adventures they can discover through books.

  • [ ] “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole” By Mac Barnett
  • [ ] “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson (available on Epic! as an audiobook)
  • [ ] “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry (available on Epic! as an audiobook)
  • [ ] “A Boy Like You” by Frank Murphy (a great book for little boys)
  • [ ] “A Unicorn Named Sparkle” by Amy Young
  • [ ] “Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend” by Melanie Watt (a funny story about friendship)
  • [ ] “Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla” by Katherine Applegate (available on Epic! as an audiobook)
  • [ ] “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog” by Lisa Papp
  • [ ] “Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” by Helaine Becker (an inspiring story about a brilliant mathematician)
  • [ ] “After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)” by  Dan Santat
  • [ ] “Alfie” by Thyra Heder
  • [ ] “You and Me” by Susan Verde
  • [ ] “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds
  • [ ] “Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beaty

Reading challenge for kids: More books to discover

I included here 4 more books to discover during this reading challenge. In the printable template you’ll also find space to include 2 books you choose to add your personal touch to the challenge.

  • [ ] “Extra Yarn” by Mac Barnett (available on Epic! as an audiobook)
  • [ ] “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds (available on Epic! as an audiobook)
  • [ ] “The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires
  • [ ] “What Does It Mean To Be Kind?” by Rana DiOrio

Download the printable books list

To make it easier to put this reading challenge into practice with your kids, I created a printable list to download and display in your home.

This printable is part of our exclusive resource library.

To access the library, click the link below and you’ll get the password for accessing the printable file (and many other printable resources for kids).

>> Download the printable reading list and tracker

If you are already a member of the Playful Notes community, access the printable library here using the password you can find at the bottom of any of my emails.

⭐ You can find the books here: the whole book list on Amazon and the Epic! digital library (where you can find all the books on the list).

I hope you and your kids will enjoy reading all the books on the list!

If you want to start a journal to record all the books you read together, check out our DIY reading journal for kids. It’s easy to create and makes reading time more fun for the little ones!

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  1. Juanita Dill says:

    Do you still have the email newsletter? I believe I was receiving the emails monthly and have not had one in a few months. If you do, how do I sign up again for the newsletter? Thank you so much for your continued commitment to these fantastic resources. You have made a difference for me as a mom!

  2. My kids and I love reading. I can’t wait to share these fun reading challenge ideas with them.