Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Summer Reading Programs-Motivate me, please!

I remember growing up in Gardiner, Maine and making frequent visits to our local library. The children's section was up a long spiral staircase and I gravitated towards the series books like Nancy Drew, The Five Little Peppers, and Encyclopedia Brown. We always participated in the summer reading program and the most memorable item was a recording sheet with a large picture of an Indian headdress with feathers. (I realize this probably would not be considered appropriate today.) For each book you read, you were able to add a colorful feather sticker to the edge of the headdress. This was so concrete and rewarding. I forget what the prize was, but there was definite motivation to read and to complete your headdress.
I am reminded of the positiveness of this experience and want the same for my children. Yet, at our local library the experience is not the same. For each book that the children read, they enter it on a log kept in a file box and receive a tiny sticker that they can adhere to a wall. For every five books that they read they receive a large sticker to adhere to the same wall. They also fill out a raffle ticket and add it into a large jar with many, many other tickets. If they are lucky, their ticket is drawn at the end of the week and they receive a prize pre-selected by the librarian. If they are very unlucky their name never gets drawn and they continue adding stickers to the wall for the rest of the summer. For the past two summers my children have read countless books and each received one prize over the duration of the summer program. These prizes were a beach ball, kite, t-shirt and puzzle. They were excited to win, yet every time we visited the library I was the one entering book titles, sticking stickers, and filling out raffle tickets. The motivation was not immediate enough and since they were not even guaranteed a prize they let mom do the work.

I have puzzled over this for two years and then yesterday while visiting our local Barnes and Noble I stumbled upon their very clever, concise, and motivating summer program. To receive a prize you read 8 books, write about what you liked and submit your reading log for a free book. Even the prize makes perfect sense and inspires further reading. I love it!! The icing on the cake is that the promotional materials surrounding the program are related to the Magic Treehouse series which my two older children love. They sell Jack and Annie book journals and are giving away "Passports" to log which Magic Treehouse books you have read. We instantly hopped online and have been taking quizzes to earn our passport stamps. I realize this a a big bookstore chain, but no one says you have to buy the books you read from them. Buy them at your local bookseller or better yet, borrow them from your local library.

In a search for other great programs and reading lists, here is what I found:

  • The Brooklyn Public Library has an adult program with fun prizes!
  • Showcase Cinemas presents Bookworm Wednesdays and free admission for parents and sibling of a child who submits a book report at the entrance.
  • For an online reading incentive program with prizes redeemable by points earned (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese) check out Book Adventure sponsored by the Sylvan Learning Center.
  • Check out this post at Chicken Spaghetti on following your child's interests with books this summer!
  • Create your own book-related incentives! Book lights, more books, bookmarks, a little cheesecake and coffee with mommy at the bookstore cafe....Can you tell I really like visiting the bookstore?

1 comment:

NYC Teacher said...

You covered it all (i.e., as far as I know it), plus gave me some new ideas. THANK YOU! (I included a link to this post on my blog. Hope that's okay.)