We live in a culture of praise.
Kids get a to stick their hands in a prize box at school, at home, at the dentist, at Sunday school and basically anywhere they show up and do not act like a complete disaster.
I have some issue about the over-abundance of praise and reward, a thought that basically centers on the idea of what happens when children raised on rewards on no longer rewarded as an adult. A future president of our great country is likely being given a cheap plastic toy and five stickers for merely showing up at school today. The idea is a bit frightening.
The idea of praise and reward stems from the visual and kinesthetic nature of children. They like to SEE how they are doing at something. Slapping a shiny sticker on a chart motivates a child to do a lot things (especially when young) because they enjoy the actual act of sticker-slapping (totally going to coin that phrase, by the way).
One can inspire a love of reading by playing into this desire of kids to see and be involved in their personal progress. Before you run off and stockpile a stash of kiddie meal toys to pass out for each book read, understand that I am not proposing that children be extrinsically rewarded for reading. Rather, create a way to publicly chart and display what the family is reading.
Enter: The Family Reading Log.
This Fall, we are keeping a list of all the books our family reads on our fridge. Even the adults are joining in on the fun as they write down the titles they finish as well. Creating a public space (visual aspect) where kids can write down (kinesthetic aspect) books read is a great way to get them reading. It opens the door for conversation about books read and books one plans to read.
Get friends and family in on the fun. When they stop by, have kids ask if they have read any good books lately. If so, give them a chance to fill in the title on your family reading log.
Everyone feels validated and proud of their reading accomplishments…and there are no junky plastic toys laying around in the end.