Saturday, June 27, 2009
Mom's Summer Reading Club
When my kids were younger, they looked forward to joining the local library's summer reading club. They would read and earn a prize like a pencil or a coupon for miniature golf. It was great fun for them, but they did not usually choose books that I would consider educational. I don't mind having them read books at an easy level or just for fun. At the same time, I would prefer that they read some more challenging material as well. So I started a new tradition I call "Mom's Summer Reading Club". My children could join my club in addition to the program at the library. My club was a bit different from the library's, however, since I printed off a list of books and the children had to select titles from that compilation. Occasionally one of my children would approach me with a specific book in mind and ask if it could be added to my list. Sometimes I agreed, and other times I did not think it was a fit for my list but reminded them that they could read that title for the library club. I assigned a point value for the books, with harder and longer books earning a greater number of points. I also individualized the prize list with items or activities that I knew my children would enjoy. I had a long list of book titles for the children to choose from, and they were all books I would be happy to see my kids reading. In fact, some of them were going to be read during the school year anyway even if the children did not select them as part of their summer reading choices. The prizes earned were also based on a point system, with smaller items such as a Dairy Queen Blizzard requiring only 5 points while $10.00 to use at the thrift store cost 20 points. I think it's important to have a range of point prizes, because some children need the reinforcement and reward sooner rather than later. As quickly as my Beckie acquired enough points to cash them in for a prize, she would come and find me to collect what she had earned. My Beth, on the other hand, would save up her points and enjoy the anticipation of a trip to the thrift store. That was my most popular prize with her, and she did a lot of reading during Mom's Summer reading club. To this day Beth enjoys reading classics that Mom would happily add to the book list, although Beth no longer expects prizes for reading. My Josh was somewhere in the middle, able to push past the early prizes but not as interested in accruing points for the bigger items on the prize list. I posted both the book list and the prize list on our refrigerator. Several of my kids' friends thought it was a great idea and hoped their moms might do something similar with them. It's such a simple way to encourage our reluctant readers or motivate our children to read a variety of materials over the summer or anytime.