Here's a question. There are many bridge books designed to keep students readings and learning during the summer.
As part of the book, the parent and the child agree the child will complete or read so many pages a day. And, in exchange for completing the project the child receives an agreed upon reward, toy, video game, etc.
Is this a good idea, should parents use the lure of a prize/reward to encourage reading/learning?
That's a really good question. We all like rewards or prizes for doing something positive. I assume since you said "children," you may be referring to ages K-5. The Thinkfinity EconEdLink partner offers an interesting lesson on What Are Incentives? This lesson has some good ideas on choice, decision making, and incentives. It might be enjoyable for parents and their children to use some of the activities in this lesson to make their children aware of positive and negative choices and then let the children help decide appropriate incentives for reading/learning over the summer. If you search thinkfinity.org using keywords like incentives or rewards, you'll find more lessons/activities that relate to your question.
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I agree - Reading in itself is priceless. Once kids are given the gift of reading, no prize is necessary. At times with certain kids, incentives may inpsire them to pick up a book, but unless they are connected with the characters and storyline, they'll not be able to fully reap the benefits of reading. I find that once kids read for pleasure, they no longer need the incentives. Good books becomes a lifelong partner.
Check with the public library for a reading program. My city library is giving away children's tickets to the circus for reading a certain amount of books during the summer. My son did this two years ago when he was 12, and we enjoyed both reading the books together and going to the circus.
I agree with a "prize" at the end of a book, but I think that you are all missing the point. If parents are role models for reading, their children will naturally follow in their footsteps. Finding a good author for your children might be a good "hook" to reading. Here are some URL's to assist you in chosing your child a book.
This book list, from a ReadWriteThink lesson, provides a list of classic children's picture books
I always have to relate to my experiences/breakthrough moments as a child when considering these ideas. The age of the child is important in considering whether or not external incentives are needed. If the child is 4-7, time spent reading with the child and discussing the books usually results in internal motivation. Children over 8 usually want friend and video game time. My parents would have me help around the house if I wasn't doing something "productive" with my time. Reading qualified as time well spent and allowed me to get out of chores. At about 13, my mom wanted me reading more. She didn't care what I read, but wanted me to enjoy books. She gave me a copy of The Valley of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susan. I am still shocked to this day! However, her plan worked. I always had a book, and loved reading. I moved on to more respectable literature by 15. Knowing the child and choosing the books that will intrigue him/her is essential and more productive than external motivators.