Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Reading Prizes....Friend or Foe?

It's that time of year again.... Summer Reading. For the rest of you this may mean taking the kids to the library to get their signup sheets and stickers to keep track of summer reading, and hearing about the prizes that the library is offering the kids.

For me, I'm behind the scenes throwing together a summer reading kickoff party, typing up excel spreadsheets of participants, explaining the prizes. It's a chaotic time, but the kids seem to enjoy it a lot. This year in particular, I decided to do something new... I challenged the kids to read more than me. I've got my own log on the front of the desk, keeping track of the time that I read. If the kids read more than me...

        ... they get to throw a pie in my face.

   Drastic, I know. But honestly, if it gets them excited about reading, why not? I've had mixed responses to the pie idea from mild amusement to outright shock. One person even told me it sounded like a principal desperate for publicity. Please! At the very least, I'm a desperate celebrity hunting down paparazzi with a cream pie.

   But the question becomes, are these prizes useful? The whole point is to get the kids reading and have them enjoy it. Are they so focused on the prizes that they don't enjoy the reading? I had one girl tell me that she was going to wipe the smile off my face with a pie. Cheeky, but I admire her spirit. But are they so blinded by the prizes that they're not enjoying the printed word? Educational psychology tells us that extrinsic motivation (rewards) can be useful in motivating individuals that aren't motivated intrinsically (have a love of reading) but that through the act of reading, they might discover that they actually like it.

So as that pie is headed towards my face, I'll just have think of all those budding readers. Or I'll just think that I'm getting married in a month. Either way, I'll smile.


  1. I don't know whether I hope you'll get hit or not... But I do hope you have a great summer!

  2. I think rewards are great. I always did that with my kids and they loved it.

  3. Can I get in on the action? Instead of a pie in the face, I will buy you a cup of coffee. Not as humiliating, and it would be more a prize for you than me, but after a pie in the face I think a cup of joe wouldn't hurt.

  4. I'm with Libby...Although I wonder if I might be beating you right now. I'm three and a half books down from the beginning of June, but then again, I'm not planning a wedding. I am planning a move though, and that kinda counts.