Do You Pay Your Kids to Read Books?

Why using reading incentives can backfire

reading incentives     Incentives (also known as brides) work well to encourage some kids to read more but don’t work at all for other kids. 

     Also, it’s interesting to note that reading experts are divided on the value of offering these incentives in order to motivate your child to read.  

     If you’re having a truly difficult time getting a child to embrace a love of reading and books, then a temporary incentive program might help jumpstart the habit of reading.  But notice I used the word TEMPORARY.

     So how does it work?  Basically, you find something your child wants and you trade it to them for reading a whole book or for the amount of time they spend read.  For example, you might negotiate that if your child reads six books this summer, you’ll all go to the water park for the day.  Or, if they read for 30 minutes a day for 7 days, they can have a friend sleep over this weekend.

     Other parents just use cold hard cash.  They may pay anywhere from a couple bucks per book, up to whatever they deem to be a fair price. 

     The idea is that the incentives help form the habit of reading.  They’re not something you want to use over a long period of time. 

     Using reading incentives can backfire if not handled correctly.  Ask any teacher that has used incentives in their classroom.  They’ll likely tell you that the kids eagerly embraced the challenge of plowing through books in order to win whatever prize has been dangled before them.  But they’ll likely also note that many students begin picking the easiest and shortest books in order to bulk up their reading log.  They’ll probably also tell you that they have their suspicions that more than a few of their students cheated by including books that they didn’t really read or only skimmed.

    What’s your feeling on bribing….er, I mean, using incentives to get kids to read?  Would love to hear your thoughts.