CommonLit’s 2021 Summer Reading Challenge

A student sitting at a table and working on a CommonLit.org lesson.

CommonLit’s Summer Reading Challenge is back for Summer 2021! Families can choose from brand new reading lists full of engaging stories.

CommonLit’s Summer Reading Challenge is back for Summer 2021 with new reading lists full of engaging stories for children to read on their own or with family members. Last summer, we started the CommonLit Summer Reading Challenge to help hundreds of families address learning loss due to COVID-19 and spend quality time reading together. The reading challenge is all online and completely free — we hope you’ll join and read with us!

This blog post will provide all of the details for the English Summer Reading Challenge — please click here to learn more about our Spanish Summer Reading Challenge!

The Challenge

CommonLit’s Summer Reading Challenge will run from May 15th — August 1st, 2021 and will provide participating families and their children with free, high-interest reading lists curated by our team of former teachers. After an extremely tough school year, we wanted to provide students with stories that are inspiring and fun to read. Families can choose from 12 different reading lists (see below) and can easily access each reading passage on CommonLit.org.

The Reading Lists

We have created reading lists for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. By clicking the links below, you can access all of the reading materials your family needs.

The list of texts for the Summer Reading challenge, with a red arrow pointing to the links for each passage.
Click on the title of the reading passage to access it on CommonLit. You can access our Elementary School Reading List, Middle School Reading Lists, and High School Reading Lists.

Elementary Reading Lists

  • Sports
  • Science!
  • Animals

Middle School Reading Lists

  • Folktales and Fables
  • African American Heroes
  • Teen Heroes
  • Cultural Icons
  • Protecting Our Environment
  • Family & Friendship

High School Reading Lists

  • Amazing Women
  • Why Do People Do Bad Things?
  • Building Community

If you would like to check out our Spanish Summer Reading Challenge Lists, please click here.

Getting started

Accessing CommonLit’s summer reading texts is easy once you have selected your reading list. Just make sure you are logged into your parent account on CommonLit.org (if you don’t have a parent account on CommonLit, sign up for one for free here).

All you have to do is click on the link of the text you want to read and it will open on CommonLit.org. From there, you can read along with your child or have them read independently.

Setting goals and keeping the conversation going

When you begin the reading challenge with your children, it is helpful to come up with a plan for when you will read and for how long. We recommend setting aside time every week for reading a CommonLit text.

For some readers, having a scheduled time to read each day can serve as a helpful routine. While building reading habits helps children stay on track, the most important thing is that they are reading and enjoying it as often as possible. Work with your child to create a plan that feels exciting and attainable for them.

Beyond celebrating progress, be sure to keep the conversation going with your children. Spending time as a family to discuss the reading passages your children are reading encourages them to learn more about a topic or think more deeply about the moral of a story. Below are a few questions or prompts you can ask your children throughout the challenge:

Nonfiction reading passage

  • Tell me what this text was about.
  • Did you learn anything that surprised you?
  • Is there anything you would like to know more about?
  • Did you enjoy reading about this topic?

Fiction reading passage

  • Tell me what this story was about.
  • Did any of the characters do anything that surprised you?
  • What questions do you have about the story?
  • Was there a character in the story that you liked? Why or why not?

If you are looking for more questions that are specific to the CommonLit reading passage that your child has read, you can also use our Discussion Questions. These Discussion Questions often connect the story/article to the world around us and are a great place to start a discussion after your child reads a passage.

Celebrate your child’s success with a certificate

When your child has successfully completed their reading list(s), we encourage you to download this certificate and fill it out together. You can also show this certificate of completion to your child’s teacher at the beginning of the SY21–22 school year. See an example of our certificate below:

An example certificate of completion for the Summer Reading Challenge.
Here is an example of our certificate of completion. Please download yours here!

Tell us what you think

We want to continue to grow our Summer Reading Program in years to come and would love your feedback on this year’s program! Please take a few minutes to respond to this short 3-minute survey.

If you have any questions while reading with your children, you can reach our Support Team at help@commonlit.org.