I love to read. I love when you get to that point in the novel, where you literally can not put it down and find yourself speed reading/skipping words just to quickly make it to the next part and find out what happens.
One of our goals in educating our children was to make readers out of them. This was hard at first with our son as reading didn’t come naturally to him. He hated it at first and we had many a battle over reading. During this stage, I was eagerly seeking out incentives to motivate him to read. I remember that first summer hearing about a book store that would give you a free book if you had read X amount of books and turned in the required paper work. His response, “Why would I want to read to get a book when I hate reading books?” We skipped that incentive that year and instead took advantage of the Library’s Summer Reading Club.
When you register your child for the summer reading club at our library they you a bag full of coupons and prizes. Free Kids Meal at Chick-Fil-A, free doughnut, free Rita’s Italian ice…the prizes tend to change from year to year. I pull out these coupons and assign values to them so my kids can earn them for rewards. This values have changed over the years based on the reading levels of my kids. This year, I had the oldest 3 read 5 books to earn a free kids meal. To keep it fair though they each had to read 5 books on their reading level. We set a goal for when we wanted to go to lunch at CFA and celebrate our prize. We didn’t make our first goal. One child was still behind a few books, so we set a new goal for the following week. This child was literally finishing up the book just before we were to leave for Chick Fil A. But, it worked. Each child read 5 books and we enjoyed our meals at Chick Fil A afterwards. In fact, these summer reading lists are what inspired my almost 5 year old to want to learn to read this summer. She started in on Bob books and eagerly reads them aloud to me and herself.
I am so, very thankful for all the companies that sponsor summer reading programs. We take full advantage of them and they really work to motivate my kids to read and to help encourage them to take time to read during the busy days of summer. This week we are reading to earn tickets to the Baysox (local minor league baseball team) game which were given to us by our local library. Left to go this summer are a free book from Barnes and Noble (this year the kids are so excited about earning a free book and have already picked out the ones they want from the list), a free ice cream cone from CFA, a kids meal from Bob Evans, chips and dip from California Tortilla and the grand prize—A Day at 6 Flags Adventure Park with Mom! During the school year we also took advantage of Pizza Hut’s Book It program.
While these prizes help motivate and inspire, I gotta tell you a little secret. Somewhere over the last few years, my son stopped caring so much about the prize. Sure he still gets excited to go out and celebrate, but he reads EVERY SINGLE NIGHT in bed whether there is a reward in it or not. And his love for reading is catching. Even our 2 year old asks for his Thomas the Train book to take to bed with him and pretend to read.
And that, truly is the best prize of all, when reading becomes the reward.