In response to a request on Facebook for summer reading incentives that get kids to read, I connected with KJ Dell’Antonia, a columnist and contributing editor to The New York Times’s Well Family. I shared my story with KJ, as follows.
For my son, I used a star chart as the incentive. My son helped determine the prizes and he loved filling his chart with stars. For every book I read to my son, or that he read on his own (he could read on his own at age 4), he got a gold star. We bought a package of little gold adhesive stars so he could place the stars on the chart himself. Prizes ranged from freshly baked treats at the end of a week of stars to the biggie, a trip to the toy store at the end of a month of stars.
For my son and me, it wasn’t just about racking up stars, it was about quality time spent reading together. We’d go to the library and select books together, we’d read together, and we’d discuss what we liked about the stories, favorite characters, etc., which made for some hilarious conversations. (After reading The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss, my son went around with a star drawn around his belly button for weeks!)
Although bribing a child to read isn’t necessarily the right motivation for all kids; for my son, I’d say it was successful – to this day, my son (now 26) loves books and he remains an avid reader! If you’d like to read the results of KJ’s research, you can read the full article here, it’s fascinating:
by KJ Dell’Antonia