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Read Around the World: Children’s Reading Challenge

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We are so excited to invite you and your kids to join our children’s reading challenge – Read Around the World. Following the popularity of our Book Voyage reading challenge for adults, we’ve designed our Kid’s Summer Reading Challenge 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 also keep your kids’ reading skills sharp and help prevent the dreaded summer slide!

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

For each continent, you’ll find links to recommended book lists later in this post.

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.

Map Coloring Page & Map Tote Bag with Text Overlayed that Says Summer Reading Challenge for Kids

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 teal 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.

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Read Around the World Book Lists for Kids and Tweens

Our suggested reading lists for each continent are split into different reading levels – including picture books, early readers and beginning chapter books, and middle-grade novels.

Click each graphic below to see the recommended books for each continent.

Read Around the World Library Tote Bag

In addition to the free book tracker, we have a Read Around the World library tote bag available in our shop. This book bag makes the perfect complement to our children’s 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). After testing a few different options, the Crayola Super Tips washable markers seem to be the best washable option for 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

The tote’s size makes it an ideal library book bag for kids (Angela’s 8-year-old son is carrying it in this photo). The small tote is sturdy and roomy enough to hold standard picture books without being awkward for a kid to carry. 

boy carrying illustrated world map library tote bag

The tote bags feature 3″ flat bottoms, which gives you lots of room for books. 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

Illustrated Kids’ World Map Poster

For kids who really love to color, we 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 when they are finished!

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!

Tips for Picking Books Your Kids Will Love

This 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 include all of these, and much, much more.

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!

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!

Corner bookshelf in kids' room with books organized by color

We hope your whole family enjoys this challenge! Happy reading!

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Thursday 8th of December 2022

Thanks for your efforts

Deanna wetzel

Friday 3rd of June 2022

My daughter does not like to read so doing these challenges is exciting for me to help her fall in love with books

Melissa George

Friday 3rd of June 2022

That is so great to hear, Deanna! We hope she'll fall head over heels and develop a lifelong passion for books!

Kathryn LaPointe

Thursday 12th of May 2022

Thank you for all of this inspired work! I need your guidance with my reluctant (I’m being generous) granddaughters. I’m buying the tote, markers, and hope to buddy-read and celebrate “words of the world” with them this Summer.

Melissa George

Thursday 12th of May 2022

We hope the totes help inspire their curiosity and desire to read about the different regions! Our best tip is to match the books to their interests as much as possible to get them started. For example, animal lovers might start with penguin, koala, and kangaroo books. Mysteries are often a hit for reluctant readers as well. Depending on their age range, Magic Tree House books are real winners for a wide variety of kids. Good luck and happy reading!

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