Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reading Incentives

Some people don't like to read. Or they like to read, but realize that they like to do other things more, so they don't read. Or they read, a good bit, even, but realize that there are about forty more books that they would like to read if they had the time (this is me right now!).

Even if as adults, we've decided to put reading books on the back burner, we usually don't allow our children the same luxury. If they're early readers, reading is good for them. If they are older, they probably have to read for school, whether they like it or not. Some reluctant readers need incentives. I've thought of a few. My daughter has never been a reluctant reader (she's a bookworm just like I was), but we have some practices that have encouraged her to read. Additionally, I have changed some practices that have pushed me along in reading more to my toddler, and reading more for myself. If you need help in any of these areas, read on. If you have something that has worked for you, then please leave a comment and share with all of us.

The Marble Jar--In one of my first WFMW posts, I shared about the marble jar system that we used for behavior/chore incentives around here. Since it's such an easy and effective way to keep track of something, I thought that it could be used for a reluctant reader--one marble per chapter, or perhaps one marble per book, with a reward after a certain number of marbles. I have decided that since when it comes to reading to a toddler, I'm the reluctant reader. He would sit and listen to books for much longer than I give him. So I thought that I could use the marble system in reverse for myself. If I set a minimum of 5 books per day (at least two at nap and bedtime and then some spontaneous reading when he asks), I can fill the jar with the marbles and take them out as I read. I could increase the marbles as a challenge to myself. By the way, if we are potty training, we read lots and lots of books. I don't mind the reading in that context, but I still hate potty training. . . .

Turn it off--the Gameboy, or PSP, or whatever the coolest latest hand-held gadget is called. My daughter always takes a book in the car. She does it because she likes it, but what if a child who didn't like it read in the car, instead of complaining or terrorizing siblings. . . . ? On a weekend or a holiday or snow day, she knows that after so much TV, she will be told to turn it off and do something else. Watching less TV has really helped me to meet my personal reading goals, as well. I'm still tempted to turn it on the afternoons for some downtime, but if I have a book (or forty) waiting to be read, I remind myself that I have a book waiting that I really want to read.

Listen--this is new to me, so I would love feedback from those of you who do enjoy audiobooks. I don't have any sort of daily commute, and when I'm in the car with the children I can't really focus on listening to a book, and I'm fighting for the radio, but this month I tried out For the first three months I can download one book each month for only $7.49 a month. (Whether or not this really "counts" as reading is of no concern to me. It helps decrease the titles in my to-be-read file, so it counts in my book, yes pun intended). My library has a netlibrary lending program for downloadable audiobooks which is FREE, but doesn't support the ipod platform. Now there are some programs that you can download to get around that, such as soundtaxi, but it feels sort of slimy to me, although it is supposedly not illegal. Does anyone know more about this? Also if anyone has a book that they particularly enjoyed in the audio format, or a type of book that hasn't translated well to an audio, or tips for squeezing in more audiobooks, I'd love to hear them. I'm about 3 1/2 hours into The Worst Hard Time. That's 3 1/2 hours that I would not have spent reading, because I've listened to it on my ipod while I was cleaning house or in the car--don't worry, I can hear just fine over the spoken word. I like listening to this nonfiction book, because getting through fiction is never a problem for me. While I like non-fiction, it sometimes takes me a while, so to be able to listen to a book in a time that I can't read a book is a big incentive to "read" more of the non-fiction that I can't wait to get to.

How do you squeeze more reading into your life, for you or your kids?

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Dianne said...

Audio books are just something I've never gotten into, for some reason. I know lots of people do though. As far as rewards, I often have to make reading the reward for myself! If I get the dishes done and floor mopped, then I can take a bath and read . . . etc. Pathetic but I could easily neglect the rest of the house in favor of books!

Jane said...

As a child, my father, a fast eater, always finished way before the rest of us. So he read to us as a family. We "read" all of the Little House Books this way. He always read something that was a bit above our own reading level. I swear this helped me love reading. My reading comprehension skills were so much better from this. We had great family discussions. I really hope to continue this tradition with my own family someday.

Katrina said...

Excellent tips. I especially appreciate "turn it off" - that works for me, turning off the TV and picking up the book. One thing that helps is just having it as a habit - I always read before I go to sleep, no matter how tired I am, it's just something I do.

I, too, am working on reading with Logan (although he'd rather eat the books right now). My goal is only 2 a day - one at each nap, since his attention span is pretty much zilch at the moment, but I know I'll want to increase that as he gets older. I like your marble idea for that.

Chad is the king of audio books - whether from audible or borrowed from the library. Since he travels quite a bit for work, it's perfect for him. I like them, but at this stage of my life they're not completely practical. When I actually have time, I might as well read an actual book.

Great post. I'll stop hogging up all your comment space now.

Beck said...

Good tips! My husband loves books on tape for the commute home.

At A Hen's Pace said...

I do probably half my reading in audio form, and have ever since my commuting days before kids. Now it's while I make dinner, or clean up the kitchen at night, or fold laundry during naptimes, or run errands by myself (since I homeschool and have older kids I can leave the littles home with).

I listen to tapes and CD's from the library. The BEST recorded book readers are all with Recorded Books, Incorporated. You can't go wrong with them. You have got to hear their reader do Jeeves and Wooster! Another gem that is much better listened to than read is John Cleese's reading of The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. He interprets the devils' thinking PERFECTLY--I "get it" as Lewis intended through this version! (It may be hard to get--but my library is always able to get it through interlibrary loan.)

For good action/adventure stuff, Dick Francis' stuff has always been fun--I prefer to listen to it too.

In the car with kids--go to the children's recorded book section. We used to listen to lots of children's classics this way. (Now the teenagers always nix this idea, so my little kids are missing out.)
I'll choose them for myself though, to revisit old friends or to decide whether I'll assign it to them--or just to read what they're reading. (I enjoyed the Harry Potter books this way, and they would always let me put those on in the car!)

Sorry this got so long--Happy Listening!


Jen Robinson said...

I love audio books. I don't listen at home except for when I'm cleaning, but I listen when I'm out walking, or if I'm by myself in the car for any longish sort of trip. I used to listen when I commuted, but I don't commute now. For me, listening while I walk has encouraged me to walk more than I would have otherwise, when I'm into a great book. And listening while cleaning house is a great way to make chores bearable, while still getting something off the to be read list. The biggest downside to audio books (and I've been an audible member for years) is that they take a lot longer than reading a print book, because you can't skim. But otherwise, I love them! Thanks for your tips!

angeleyes Blue said...

My son had always loved reading until he hit 8th grade. I remember catching him one time out in the hallway at the nightlight reading a book (age 2) He read the Harry Potter series when he was in 4th grade. He actually read each book as it came out.

Our daughter is a slower reader but loves the library and is someone who will take out a book to learn something new like knitting, sewing or cooking.

I on the other hand used to always have a book in my hand until CHILDREN. We never had a hard time reading kids books or going to the library. My problem was and still is that I will begin a book and I hear CRASH, BANG, BOOM and I'm OK! in the background. I always felt the need to go check it out.

Emergency averted I would go pick up the book and begin at the same #@!#&* sentence. I would usually have about 30 secs, a new sentence and another CRASH,BANG, BOOM I'm OK?!

It became quite a cycle. I stopped reading for awhile. I actually tried again the other day--Kids are teens now RIGHT?

Son strolls in the living room gives me a kiss on the cheek and goes back into the bedroom. I begin to read again--Same $#@! sentence and doorbell rings. Gotta go answer door--Kevin is in his room. I curl up on the couch, pick up the book and AAGH! The SAME SENTENCE!

Maybe when the kids are in college.

Katmaxx said...

I give my kids a quarter for each one of the "100 Easy Lessons" from their reading book. My dad took us to the library every week during summer breaks with a large basket. He required us to fill it with books to check out before he would leave. My mom backed him up on the reading plan by cutting the cord off the TV and hiding it the first day of break. Dad was so strict about this because he was dyslexic as were two of us and he figured we needed more practice than most kids to become good readers and he was right. Now I turn off the screens in my house during weekdays year-round because I have 3 kids with dyslexia, one made it into college at 15 so this must help.

Susanne said...

Great tips Jennifer!

Kelly said...

We use a similar marble jar system with discipline. I never thought of applying it to something like reading-great idea.