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Ms. Leber

December 15, 2023

Reading

A Free and Easy Way to Motivate Reading

Some kids devour books, while others avoid reading at all costs. Many kids like reading independently but dislike book assignments from school. No matter what kind of reader you have, there is a free and easy way to challenge kids to consume books, allowing them to reap physical and academic rewards for their efforts.

Through the 80s and 90s, programs like Book-It rewarded kids for reading by turning books into currency. Points earned by reading books translated into gift certificates for every kid's favorite food– pizza. Programs like Book-It are still around, but parents can easily create a home-based reward system to encourage reading in a few easy steps:

  1. Keep it simple

Give points for every book read, or designate a points system incorporating difficulty level or higher points for non-fiction than fiction. It's critical to make the system flexible to allow kids choice– kids read more when they can read about their interests. 

  1. Keep track of points

Keep a scoreboard or progress bar for points in a high-traffic area of the house, like the kitchen or the family room. This is important for several reasons:

  • Visual reminders make the rewards feel achievable by marking their progress towards rewards. Kids are "out of sight, out of mind" and struggle with delayed gratification. Keeping a visual reminder of their efforts (or lack thereof) motivates them. 
  • Multiple kids in the house will have different scores to track.
  • Parents need to track points for rewards.
  • "Gamifying" tasks kids are less motivated to complete creates novelty that inspires them. 

Scoreboards can be whiteboards, markers on a window, or a printed page inside a transparent page protector or picture frame. Making kids responsible for marking their progress will also help them build responsibility and discipline. 

  1. Create goals or prizes 

Kids will earn points they will eventually cash in, but those rewards don't have to be expensive toys, devices, or clothes. Rewards can be easy, free, and scaled based on point values, like extra screen time, picking a restaurant for dinner, or having a sleepover.

There can also be big ticket items, like gift cards for their favorite brands, to encourage students to bank their points, which teaches students the importance of delayed gratification and patience. It also helps teach them financial skills for saving and spending.

Creating a reward system to encourage reading will have even the most reticent readings racking up points. 

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