5 Types of Reading Incentive Programs for Kids
Parents and teachers want kids to love reading for the sake of reading. However, the reality is that kids often need a little motivation to pick up a book. Reading incentive programs motivate kids to read by rewarding them with fun prizes or other incentives for reaching reading milestones. Best of all, the more kids read, the more they begin to discover the joy that comes not just from the prizes, but from the books themselves.
Online Reading Programs
Online reading programs help you encourage kids to read year-round. Many of these programs provide platforms to track kids’ reading progress and allow parents and teachers to choose the rewards kids earn. This makes them a little more personal than some more traditional reading incentive programs.
- Book Adventure is an online program designed for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. Teachers or parents can register kids for an account, help them set up booklists, and check their reading progress. Kids read books and take quizzes to earn points that they can redeem for prizes. There are also drawings where kids can enter to win items like tickets to movie screenings.
- Reading Rewards is an online reading log for kids. Kids earn miles for reading which they can trade in to redeem rewards set up by parents and teachers. The log works with or without rewards. Some kids may simply find motivation by watching their miles increase as they read.
- Learn2Earn is actually an online fundraising platform that promotes reading at the same time. Sponsors pledge money for every book that a kid reads or donate a flat amount to reward the kid for reading. 80% of the money raised is then given to the school or organization doing the fundraising, while Learn2Earn keeps 20% for its business costs.
- Read to Feed is another online fundraising platform that encourages kids to read and give the money to charity. A teacher or group leader can set up a fundraising page and solicit donations based on how much kids read. Kids learn about giving back through their reading and Heifer International’s causes get much-needed support.
Commercial Reading Programs
Many businesses offer programs to encourage kids to read. While a few large programs are listed below, check out local fast food places, ice cream shops, pizza parlors, and bookstores to see if they offer reading programs of their own. If they don’t, encourage them to start one.
- Book It!, Pizza Hut’s reading incentive program, has been reaching kids for decades and the program is still going strong. With the program, kids in grades K-6 can read to earn points towards a Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut. The program is available for schools and homeschooling parents.
- Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendars earn kids tokens for completing all kinds of tasks, including reading. If kids mark off that they have read every day for two weeks, they get 10 free tokens. A trip to Chuck E. Cheese is bound to motivate nearly any kid to read!
- Six Flags Read to Succeed gives kids in grades K-6 free tickets to Six Flags theme parks in exchange for reading. Students must read for at least six hours by the beginning of March each year to earn a free ticket for the summer. Teachers can sign up for the program in the fall.
- Braum’s Book Buddy program is open to kids who live in an area with a Braum’s restaurant. Starting in October each school year, teachers can pass out reading logs to students for every 6 books read, kids get a free treat from Braum’s.
Summer Reading Programs
During the summer, kids aren’t required to read every night and don’t have regular silent reading time during school. As a result, motivating kids to read is even more important. Many local libraries sponsor their own summer reading programs for kids, but you can also enroll your kids in a few other national summer reading programs.
- Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading Program gives kids the chance to earn a free book. All kids have to do is read 8 books and record them in a reading journal. Then they bring their journal to the store and choose a free book from the company’s reading list.
- Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge is designed to help elementary and middle schools encourage kids to read over the summer. Kids read and log their progress online all summer which allows them to earn rewards and unlock new stories. In the fall, the hours for the entire school are added up and the top elementary and middle schools win a visit from an author. Teachers and parents can also win prizes throughout the summer for encouraging kids to read.
- H.E.Buddy’s Rockin’ Summer Reading Club is sponsored by H.E.B. supermarkets. Kids read 10 books, log them on a reading log, and then mail their logs to the address provided. Their prize is a special H.E.B. t-shirt.
- Half Price Book’s Feed Your Brain program encourages kids to read 15 minutes a day in June and July. For younger kids, having an adult read to them counts too. After reaching 300 minutes, kids can take their reading logs to a Half Price Books store to earn Bookworm Bucks. High School students can also earn Bookworm Bucks by reading books and writing reviews.
- TD Bank gives kids in grades K-5 a chance to earn $10 for reading 10 books. Kids track their progress on a summer reading form, and then take it to a TD Bank where $10 is deposited into a Young Savers Account.
Library-Based Incentive Programs
Many libraries offer their own programs designed to encourage kids to read. Sometimes these programs are just offered in the summer and other times they are offered year-round. Visit your local library to see how they reward kids for reading. If they don’t have any current programs going on, consider volunteering to set up a program for them. They can always use the help.
- 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a program adopted by many libraries to encourage younger kids to read. Parents keep logs of the books kids have read. Kids receive small prizes each time they read another 25 books and another 100 books. Reading 1,000 books earns kids a free book and a certificate.
- Summer Reading Programs draw kids to the library for a chance to earn prizes and enter drawings when they read books. Libraries typically offer programs for kids from toddler through eighth grade and separate programs for teenagers. Prizes and program details vary from library to library.
Create Your Own Program
If you can’t find any reading incentive programs in your own area or aren’t finding anything that will motivate your kids, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own program. All you need to do is designate what or how much kids need to read, track their reading, and provide them with rewards for meeting their reading goals. A few ways to do this:
- Host a local battle of the books where a group of kids read the same books, and then compete in a competition featuring questions about those books.
- Start a book club in your neighborhood and have kids read a different book each month. Turn the book club into a mini party related to the book.
- Start a DIY Summer Reading Camp using ideas provided by Education.com.
The goal of every reading incentive program is to encourage kids to read. How do you encourage your kids to read? We’d love to hear some of the programs and other tricks you use!