SummaryHow can we encourage our kids to read this summer? Form a family reading club! Jennifer Elia shares 5 easy tips to set up this fun and educational activity.
In the past, my children and I have participated in a the summer reading club at the local library.
They always really enjoyed the experience. However, the past few summers, the reading club has changed its format multiple times. One summer, it only required reading ONE book the entire summer. The kids ran out of motivation in the first week.
The next summer, they introduced a ticket system to earn prizes. Fair enough, except it was based on the number of books read each week. The children had to read at least three books a week to even enter the raffle for the prizes. They quickly got frustrated as they were diligently working on longer books and their peers were racking up points reading the shortest ones possible.
That is when we decided to form our own family reading club and ditch the dime store prizes for real motivation and excitement.
1. Choose a Time Frame
A family reading club can last just a week or the entire summer. Be sure to set a start and finish date, though, from the beginning. This gives everyone a fair chance to plan their reading out.
Pick a reasonable amount of time. A few weeks is ideal. If the club goes too long, it loses momentum. If it is too short, there’s not enough time to really get immersed in the world of reading.
This year, we are having our reading club from July 1st-29th. We have done as short as ten days, though, and it was still worth the while. A short term reading club is a great break from schooling in the winter months, or if life gets busy with a new baby or move. The kids will still be learning, but you don’t have to be teaching.
2. Set Up a Point System
Determine how you will award points. With a large age span, it is difficult to just award a point per book. We give points based on one short book or twenty pages of a longer book. This allows the older students to delve into great literature without feeling like they have short changed themselves as younger siblings zoom ahead.
We also assign different point values for different types of reading.
Here is our points plan:
- Two points per book or twenty pages read independently
- Two points per picture book read to a younger sibling
- Three points per audiobook completed
- One point per chapter of family read-alouds
3. Make a List of Rewards
Rewards do not have to be expensive to be meaningful and enticing.
One of our family’s favorite rewards is a living room camp-out. We set up air mattresses in the living room, read stories by flashlight, and watch a movie. It costs nothing, but it is always at the top of the request list, so I make that worth forty-five points.
Here are some other ideas:
- Get to watch an extra thirty minutes of educational television
- Have a picnic at the beach
- Invite a friend over to play
- Take a friend ice skating
- Get an extra dessert this week (we only have dessert a couple of times a week.)
- Pick what’s for dinner
- Have a family movie night including popcorn
- Get two days off of handwriting practice
- Earn a new book worth $10 or less
- Get a day off of chores
- Spend the afternoon at the park
- Have a make your own pizza party
- Go out for an ice cream cone
- Get a $5 gift card to the Dollar Tree
- Eat whatever you want for breakfast–yes, cookies count!
As you can see, most of these rewards cost very little, if anything. The children are working more for experiences than physical prizes. This makes running the reading club easy on the pocket book and prevents extra clutter. Both are wins for the homeschooling family.
4. Remember Family Reading
Pick a book or two to use as a family read aloud. It will be fun to all experience the same book, and it also levels the playing field since everyone is reading together. Knowing that everyone is reading will encourage the reluctant readers as well.
Note that this is a FAMILY reading club. So, mom and dad, pull out your books and start saving up the points! We haven’t had parent prizes, but I am thinking of having them this year.
Experiencing this as a family emphasizes the importance and joy of reading. It’s also a good excuse to catch up on that novel you have been wanting to pick up, but couldn’t because of schooling or housework.
5. Tally the Points
At the end of the reading club, have everyone submit their tally sheets. Give each participant his grand total and see who earned the most points.
As a family, celebrate completing the club together. Again, pick something simple but meaningful. The best part is spending time together and relishing your accomplishments.
Just as for the actual reading, set a time frame for redemption of prizes. This may seem legalistic, but it prevents mom or dad from losing track of which prizes have been awarded.
Nothing is worse than a child claiming a year later that he never got his prize, and you can’t remember if he did or not. A time frame keeps up the excitement and allows for a completion of the project, which makes for a better transition back to everyday life.
How are you getting your family reading this summer?