Not everyone is a reader. Some people devour all printed text like there will be a publishing famine. Others struggle with reading or just don’t care for it. You hear of all kinds of rewards systems to get kids to read, but I always wonder–do they really work?
The one they had when I was in school was the BOOK IT! Pizza Hut program, where if our whole class met our reading goal, Pizza Hut would sponsor a pizza party! But then Pizza Hut got smart and realized LOTS more kids could read than they had estimated, so it was cancelled. My teacher had pity on us and held a potluck.
Another example of rewards for reading is my friend’s family–one summer her parents decided to pay their kids a dollar for every book they read. The next summer, they had to pay the kids not to read. Success!
But, while I was in the BOOK IT! program, my parents weren’t too excited about it. They thought if I only read for rewards, then–whoops!–no rewards, no reading! Little did they know; I’m an addict for life. But maybe (the argument goes) I was a lifelong reader way before that…
Maybe reading incentive programs are one way of getting kids interested in books. But might they also teach that reading brings “treats” instead of pleasure in itself?
One article had this to say:
All those reading incentive campaigns inflicted on elementary school children across the country provide sobering evidence of just how many parents and educators are trapped by Skinnerian thinking. They also illustrate the consequences of extrinsic motivators more generally. About the likely results of “Book It!”, Pizza Hut’s food-for-reading program, educational psychologist John Nicholls replied, only half in jest, that it would probably produce “a lot of fat kids who don’t like to read.”
(For the full article, click here. It’s a brief, articulate critique of programs like BOOK IT! and Accelerated Reader.)
Wow, that’s a pretty strong rejection of programs that everyone seems to be doing. I’m curious–what started you reading? Did you ever do one of these programs? Did it destroy your “reading ethic” or help it out? I’d love to hear!