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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Summer reading incentive programs

June 18, 2012

Sometimes it takes more than a new book to keep a child reading. If you're finding that your reader needs a nudge, here are some summer incentive programs that may spark some page turning. It truly seems as though everyone is offering an incentive program this year. Just about every program includes tips, booklists, and some sort of tracking mechanism.


Pizza Hut's Book It program has a summer component called Spark Your Greatness with Book It! It's for kids grades K-6, and features a minute tracker app, book recommendations, recipes for readers, printables, games, and activity calendars.

Barnes & Noble's summer reading program is called Imagination's Destination. The free booklet is available in English and Spanish, and includes activities related to books. Readers who read and record 8 books can choose one from a list to receive for free.

Scholastic's Summer Challenge asks kids to log their reading minutes to earn rewards. The challenge is to beat last year's 64,213,141 reading minutes and set a new world record! The 20 schools with the most minutes will be featured in Scholastic's Book of World Records.

Book Adventure from Sylvan helps kids find books, offers quizzes on what they've read (yippee) and enables kids to earn prizes for their reading success. The online site is graphically pleasing, and includes sections for kids, teachers, and parents.


H.E. Buddy's Summer Reading Club asks kids to write down 10 books they've read. It's unclear what kids get for reading, but I think it's a t-shirt.


Chances are your local library system is offering a summer reading program as well. I encourage you to see what your local branch is up to. Ours typically includes a summer reading log, but also visits from local authors and entertainers.


Not everyone loves an incentive program (kids AND adults). For example, read Alfie Kohn's A Closer Look at Reading Incentive Programs. Kohn, an outspoken critic of grades, test scores, and reward systems, believes that incentive programs "smother people's enthusiasm for activities they might otherwise enjoy." Kohn directly addresses BookIt (as well as Accelerated Reader) in his article.

Will you be using an incentive program with your reader? If so, what seems to work and why?


I am currently directing a summer program. Ranching and Reading, the kids are so excited about the agriculture, science, and hands on experience that when it is time to read they are ready and willing. I believe when you reach kids they want to do what is expected of them and they enjoy reading for a purpose.

Reading with your child and preparing them for the future is what reading can give them. Don't be afraid to do so.

And don't forget your local library. Most have summer reading programs as well as recommended lists for different ages/grades.

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