Summer Reading Camp: MORE Recommendations, Recreations & Recipes

Greetings, Campers!

We hope you are enjoying the HPB Summer Reading Camp! We still have a few more weeks to go, which is great because we still have more wonderful books, fascinating activities and scrumptious camp foods to try!

By this time you should be making some lifelong fictional friends in Summer Reading Camp, but if you’re like me, not all your fictional friends will fit on your bookshelf, and you will eventually have to say goodbye and let them be friends with other girls and boys. So, why not take some of the books you’ve already read to Half Price Books and donate them to earn your “Donate a Book” badge? Then go look for some more books in our Find the Hidden Books activity!  Since we are sharing, how about chowing down on some sharable Campfire Nachos and reading one of your favorite books, or bringing home new fictional friends like:

  • A Friendship Yarn, by Lisa Moser (pre-school to early reader)
  • Just Like Me, by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (middle-grade)
  • Wildlife, by Fiona Wood (teen)
  • Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (adult)
Grilled Campfire Nachos Recipe


  • Tortilla chips
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 14 oz black, pinto or refried beans
  • Shredded cheese
  • Optional toppings: tomatoes, onions, avocado, jalapeno peppers, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa
  1. Sprinkle the taco seasonings on the ground beef and cook it in a skillet until it’s brown and crumbly.
  2. Chop up the tomatoes, onions, avocado, jalapeno and lettuce (if using).
  3. Place a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of a foil pan, cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven.
  4. Add a layer of beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, avocados, jalapenos and salsa (if using those toppings).
  5. Repeat the layering of chips and toppings until the pan is filled.
  6. Add a thick layer of cheese on the top.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and crimp the edges.
  8. Place on a grate over a campfire or in a grill. Don’t place it directly over an open flame or the bottom might burn.
  9. Cook 15-30 minutes depending on the heat of the fire/grill, until the cheese is melted and toppings are cooked and tender.
  10. Pull pan off the campfire/grill and add sour cream and lettuce, if desired.
  11. Enjoy with friends.

(for a healthier recipe substitute the tortilla chips with sweet potato slices)

With all the new fictional friends you are meeting at Summer Reading Camp you may want to introduce them to your more tangible friends by getting together, popping popcorn and starting a summer book club, or you could use your summer book club to meet all new fictional friends together! We have questions to get your book club started on our Book Club Questions activity sheets for kids and for teens. You can also earn your “Read to a Friend” badge by reading passages to each other during your book club from books like these:

Popcorn Recipes
Frozen Chocolate Popcorn


  • ¾ cup yellow popcorn kernels
  • Sugar to taste
  • 5 Tbsp canola oil
  • Chocolate candy melts (blue, pink and white are suggested)
  • Sprinkles
  • Candy pearls
  • Mini chocolate chips
  1. Heat oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add sugar and popcorn kernels when oil gets hot, stir to mix in sugar.
  3. Move the pan back and forth until the kernels start to pop.
  4. Cover with lid meant for the pan (covering the pan with aluminum foil also works) and keep shaking it back and forth.
  5. When the popcorn is finished popping, remove it from heat and let it cool.
  6. Place the popcorn in one layer on top of parchment paper
  7. Melt the chocolate candy melts (one small bowl per color) in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between.
  8. Spoon the melted chocolate candy melts into a Ziploc bag and snip off a corner (one bag per color).
  9. Pipe chocolate on the popcorn.
  10. Sprinkle with sprinkles, candy pearls and mini chocolate chips and then pipe on more chocolate.
  11. Let the chocolate harden in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Slime Popcorn


  • 1 package microwave popcorn
  • 12 oz. package of neon green colored candy melts (I found mine at Party City, but I’ve been told they have them at Walmart and Michaels)
  • Neon colored confetti sprinkles
  • Almonds
  1. Pop your popcorn following advice under Frozen Chocolate Popcorn.
  2. While it’s popping, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread your popped popcorn on the parchment lined baking sheet, and sprinkle in your almonds.
  4. Melt the candy melts at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely smooth.
  5. Drizzle the melted candy over the popcorn and almonds.
  6. Sprinkle the confetti sprinkles over the popcorn and let it cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Rainbow Popcorn


  • 2 cups popcorn kernels
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 food coloring options
  • Sprinkles
  1. Place sheets of aluminum foil on flat surfaces in your kitchen. You will need one sheet of foil for every food coloring option you have.
  2. Start popping your popcorn kernels following advice under Frozen Chocolate Popcorn.
  3. While it’s popping, place your sugar, oil, water, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Divide your popcorn into as many large bowls as you have food coloring options.
  5. Divide your sugar mixture into as many small bowls as you have food coloring options.
  6. Add 5-8 drops of food coloring into each of the small bowls of sugar mixture and stir until the color is consistent throughout.
  7. Pour one color of the sugar mixture over one of the bowls of popcorn and stir until the color coats the popcorn. Repeat for each color.
  8. Spread each color of popcorn over a sheet of aluminum foil, toss sprinkles on popcorn before it dries.
  9. Allow to dry until no longer soggy.  Should take 2-3 hours.

Since you and your friends have all gotten together, why not pack up some cookies (in case you get peckish) and head to a bookstore or library to do one of our Scavenger Hunt activities? You can easily get your “Day Without Screens” badge as you spend the whole day looking for more great books like these:

Cookie Recipes
Ranger Cookies


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups rice cereal, like Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt
  5. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  6. Stir in oats, cereal and coconut (other mix in options: M&Ms, chocolate chips, dried fruit like cranberries, cherries or blueberries)
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls, about 2” apart, onto an ungreased baking sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool on wire racks.
Monster Cookies


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups peanut butter (could be either creamy or crunchy)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 ½ cups oats (either old fashioned or quick)
  • 1 cup mini M&Ms
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Candy eyes (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then beat in the peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda and salt until well combined.
  4. Next, add the oats until combined.
  5. Finally, add the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  6. Drop by about 2-3 tablespoonfuls around 2” apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (If you opt to use Candy eyes, place them on the cookies immediately after you remove them from the oven.)
  8. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

We want you to get the most out of your HPB Summer Reading Camp experience, so make sure you complete our Word Scramble activity and help BW unscramble the summer camp words on his checklist, or try your hand at writing your own camp story to earn “Write a Story” badge. Then, you can gather everyone together to eat S’mores around the campfire, share some of the stories you’ve written, share some of the stories you’ve read and maybe even share a few scary ones like:

S’mores Recipe


  • Graham crackers
    • You can replace the graham crackers with chocolate cookies, Rice Krispie treats or chocolate wafers
  • Milk chocolate
    • You could replace the chocolate with peanut butter cups, Kit-Kats, mini Snickers or any other chocolate based candy bar cut in half lengthwise
  • Marshmallows, jet-puffed
  • Skewers (only for Campfire S’mores)
  • Additional ingredients to add if desired: salted caramel, Nutella
    • Candied Bacon: Coat strips of bacon with brown sugar and place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Back at 375-400˚ for about 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Transfer to some paper towels to cool.
    • Elvis: banana slices, peanut butter and bacon
    • Mexican Chocolate: cinnamon and chili powder

For Campfire S’mores (can also be used on the grill and a gas stovetop)

  1. Break a graham cracker in half and lay the two halves on a plate.
  2. Top one of the graham cracker halves with a square of chocolate (2 rectangles in a chocolate bar).
  3. Skewer a marshmallow and toast it in the fire, letting the marshmallow “catch” fire for a couple seconds before blowing it out. Let it cool for just a moment, then add to the chocolate.
  4. Top with the other half of the graham cracker, press down slightly and enjoy!

For Oven S’mores

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. On a sheet pan add your graham cracker halves an inch or so apart.
  3. Top with chocolate squares and marshmallows.
  4. Place on rack 5-6” below the top of the oven, leaving the door open 3-4” so you can peek in.
  5. Watch for 20-30 seconds and wait for the marshmallows to char and expand.
  6. Remove from oven, top with other graham cracker half and serve!

Well, campers, it looks like we’ve still got a lot to do, a lot to read and a lot to eat. Just don’t forget to keep track of the minutes you’re reading and enter them into our online reading log at the end of July to receive a reading reward. If you need help keeping track of your reading minutes you can download a paper reading log from our activities page, and don’t forget keep visiting to check out our latest“Activity of the Week.”

Have a wonderful rest of the summer, campers! And happy reading!