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Read Around the World: Children’s Summer Reading Challenge 2021

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We are so excited to invite you and your kids to join our children’s summer reading challenge – Read Around the World. Following the popularity of our Book Voyage reading challenge for adults, we’ve designed our Summer Reading Challenge 2021 with kids and families in mind!

From the Amazon rainforest to the savannas of Africa, and from the Great Wall of China to the outback of Australia, we know your kids will love exploring the world while learning about geography and other cultures. Reading around the world is not only a fun summer adventure, it will keep your kids’ reading skills sharp and help prevent the dreaded summer slide!

Summer Reading Challenge for Kids World Globe Graphic with Books

This summer, give kids a virtual passport and encourage them to travel to all seven continents through the pages of books!

We have some fun ways for you kiddos to keep track of their reading – including a free printable world map coloring page with space to record the titles they read, an illustrated world map poster, and a library tote bag featuring the same black and white illustrated map design that can be colored with fabric markers!

The free coloring page (which can be requested further down in this post) also serves as a paper log for kids to record the books they read. The poster print and tote are available for purchase in our shop.

Large World Map Poster and World Map Library Tote Bag

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Summer Reading: How to Avoid the Summer Slide

Summer reading is so important to help kids avoid the summer slide. What is the summer slide, you ask? According to research, kids that don’t read enough enter the next school year at a lower reading level than when they completed the prior grade in the spring.

There is compelling data that suggests that reading even 20 minutes a day not only prevents the summer slide, it also helps kids grow academically. And reading together is also shown to strengthen family relationships!

If you have a reluctant reader, it can be extra challenging to get them to read during the summer when they are away from school. On the other hand, if you have a voracious young reader, they can get bored quickly during the summer months. We’ve designed the Read Around the World summer reading challenge to keep both groups of kids excited about books all summer long!

How the Summer Reading Challenge Works

The Read Around the World Summer challenge is completely free and it’s as simple as reading seven books throughout the summer set on the seven different continents. But we suspect your kids won’t want to stop there. Once they start reading about other countries and cultures, they are likely to have lots of questions, and the best way to answer those questions is with more books. And that’s what raising a reader is all about!

Download our free, hand-illustrated printable world map coloring page by adding your email address in the box below this paragraph. The map has space around the edges for your kids to record the titles of the books they read as they travel the world. It can be printed at home on standard letter-sized piece of paper, but if you want a larger version, we have a poster print available as well!

We encourage you to start by browsing your kiddo’s bookshelf with them to look for their own books that might fit the challenge, and your local library is, of course, another great resource if you need a new book!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sending out emails with links to our suggested reading lists for each continent, split into different reading levels. We hope these lists will be a helpful resource to look through with your kids before trips to the library or book store.  We’ve been reading tons of book reviews to help us find the right books for readers of all ages, including picture books, early chapter books, and middle-grade books.

Join our email list using the box above and we’ll send you links to those lists of books as soon as they are available.

Click the images below to visit the continents that have already been published.

Children’s Books Set in Africa

Books Set in Antarctica for Kids - Text over black and white world map

Children’s Books Set in Antarctica

Children’s Books Set in Asia

Books Set in Australia for Kids

Children’s Books Set in Australia

This summer reading challenge is easy to customize to your kid’s personal interests. If you have a kiddo who loves sports, for example, encourage them to read books about different sports or athletic competitions around the world; or for an animal-loving kiddo, explore the different animals that are unique to each continent. Young readers who like books in a series may gravitate toward options like The Magic Treehouse or Greetings from Around the World because both series include books set all across the globe. Older kids and tweens might enjoy reading biographies of influential people from various countries, and the Who Is / Who Was series is a good starting point. Our recommended book lists for each continent will include all of these, and much, much more.

Corner bookshelf in kids' room with books organized by color

Illustrated Kids’ World Map Poster

For kids who really love to color, we also have a larger poster print version of the world map coloring page available in our shop, which can double as a fun piece of art for your child’s room at the end of the summer!

Large world map poster with colored pencils

This 16″ x 20″ large world map poster is printed on thick paper and arrives safely rolled. We recommend unrolling the poster and weighing each corner down with a book overnight before coloring so that it will lay nice and flat.

Boy coloring large world map poster with colored pencils and stack of books

Colored pencils are our favorite way to color this world map poster, but crayons and thin markers also work well. Angela’s sons especially love the Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils!

Large world map poster with colored pencils and stack of books

Read Around the World Library Tote Bag

In addition to our coloring poster, we also have a Read Around the World library tote bag available in our shop. This book bag makes the perfect complement to our children’s summer reading challenge

two world map library tote bags with markers for coloring

The tote is adorable in black and white, but you can also use markers to color the design and create a totally custom look! Reading + coloring for the win! Angela prefers that her kids always use washable markers (because, well… accidents happen), so she tested out the Crayola Super Tips washable markers, which worked great on the canvas tote bag. If you want to ensure that the color is permanent, you can instead use fabric markers. These tote bags are lined and have black interiors, so you don’t have to worry about the color bleeding through to the back of the bag.

child's hand coloring Read Around the World library map tote bag

This world map coloring tote comes in two sizes. The smaller size makes an ideal library book bag for kids (that’s the size Angela’s 8-year-old son is carrying in this photo). The small tote sturdy and roomy enough to hold standard picture books without being awkward for a kid to carry. Older kids, however, might enjoy the added space of the large tote bag.  

boy carrying illustrated world map library tote bag

Both sizes of tote bags feature a flat-bottom, which gives you lots of room for books, and the reinforced handles and black interior make these library tote bags as functional as they are cute.

child with library book tote full of books

We hope your whole family enjoys this challenge throughout the summer break. Happy reading!

Love reading as much as we do?
Join us for more free content, reading challenges, and discussion over in the Book Girls’ Guide Facebook Group!

2021 Reading Challenge - Read Around the World - Book Girls' Guide

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

[…] If you’re looking for our Read Around the World Summer Reading Challenge for Kids, you’ll find that here! […]


Sunday 4th of July 2021

Hi! Every time I click on the "Australia" books it takes me to the "Asia" books. Help!


Monday 14th of June 2021

How do I print the map in one piece? We're super excited to start this challenge but the link in the email doesn't provide an easily printable file so my printer wants to print it in pieces. How do I correct this?

Angela Rathbun

Thursday 17th of June 2021

The map that you received in the email is formatted to print on a standard letter size piece of paper. If you are having trouble getting it to print, check to make sure that your print settings are set to "landscape" orientation (not portrait). Also make sure that you've selected the "fit to page" option in the print settings. Let us know if you're still having trouble!

Children's Books Set in Asia - Book Girls' Guide

Monday 7th of June 2021

[…] lesson, or you’re joining us as part of the Read Around the World Children’s summer reading challenge for 2021, we hope you’ll find the perfect book suggestions for your […]

The Best Australian Children's Books - Book Girls' Guide

Saturday 5th of June 2021

[…] lesson, or you’re joining us as part of the Read Around the World Children’s summer reading challenge for 2021, we hope you’ll find the perfect book suggestions for your […]