It's summer break. Time for vacations, fireworks, lazy days by the pool, and, of course, summer reading lists. I know other moms whose kids love reading. They devour books and can finish their reading lists in days.
Not my boys. My boys are good readers, but they fight any reading homework tooth and nail. I'm already having nightmares of the fights we'll have at the end of August as I force them to finish their reading lists (and book reports too) before the first day of school.
As a mother, I can't let that happen. I have to get them to read using what works best: bribery. Normally, bribery involves spending my own hard-earned money on rewards. Fortunately, with summer reading, I don't have to dip into my wallet. There are a number of incentives out there for kids who read.
Here are a few of the reading incentives we plan on cashing in on this summer:
Don't see your family's favorite incentive programs on the list below? Please add them to the comments and share with other desperate parents.
- Barnes & Noble – The bookstore offers a great summer reading program that my family participated in last year. Your child has to read eight books, write them down on a journal and take it to the store to get a free book. The free books are preselected to make it easier for the child to pick from. This program ends on September 4th, so get those forms in before school starts.
- TD Bank – TD Bank also has a great summer reading program celebrating its tenth year. All you have to do is print out a reading form (or pick one up at the bank) and write down ten books that you have read over the summer. When you finish, go to the bank and $10 will be deposited into your child's new or existing Young Savers Account. This program ends on September 29th and is open to anyone 18 years of age and younger.
- Scholastic Summer Challenge – This is an online challenge. Currently, the only local school registered is Russell Elementary, but your child can participate even if they attend an unregistered school. Just sign your child up and have them register their daily reading on the website. They can win prizes and play games on the website. For my kids, I know the computer time is the best incentive of all, and it's on a trusted website.
- Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge – This is geared towards those kids who are just starting to read independently. If your child can complete one of the reading lists they will receive a 'special gift.' The award-winning list for independent readers includes great reads such as Jumanji, Stone Soup and Owen. The early reader list includes Alligator Alphabet, Ship Shapes and other young reader books. For the parents who love to shop at Pottery Barn Kids, this is a great program, plus the King of Prussia store has a weekly storytime on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. The summer reading challenge ends on August 22nd.
- Chuck E. Cheese – Chuck E. Cheese has an ongoing reward system on their website for free tokens. From potty training to reading, they have incentive charts that I have been printing out for years. Two weeks of reading equals 10 free tokens.
- iVillage, PBS Kids and Scholastic have joined forces for a summer reading challenge as well. Sign up and receive tips and activities via daily emails on how to get your children to read more. You will receive book suggestions, discounts, and have a chance to win prizes like $50 credit to PBS Kids online store, a Kindle Touch, or the grand prize of $1,000.
- BOOK IT! National Reading Incentive Program – Summer Break Reading Challenge, from June 15 to August 15, kids who read five books will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a Diary of a Wimpy Kid prize package. There are 50 of these prizes to award and include a tote bag, two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, two DVDs, a 'Greg' plush, and a $20 Visa gift card.
- Library Programs – Last, but not least, Marple Public Library and Newtown Public Library are participating in a county-wide reading program called 'Dream Big READ!' The program is open to preschool children through young adult and offers programs, prizes, storytimes, reading clubs and more.
If you are looking for additional suggestions about what to read, visit the summer reading partnership with Patch and award-winning author James Patterson: Read Kiddo Read. They have lists of suggested age-appropriate books for children divided into categories that allow you to match suggestions to your child's interests.
I love all of these incentive programs. I don't remember having any when I was a kid. I remember a long summer road trip when I was about to enter third grade.
I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon and my entire family was forced to listen to me read aloud some insanely boring book about John Adams, our second, and in my opinion at the time, most boring president. I remember crying, whining, and pretending to be sick. There was no incentive, well, except for my siblings repeatedly punching me to force me to finish faster.
Luckily, that event didn't scar me for life. I love reading, but to this day I will not read anything about John Adams, even the famous best seller from a few years ago. Apparently it is one of the most interesting books written. Right.