Every summer I’m stumped by the task of motivating my kids to read. So this year, I got creative. Since introducing “Tucker Bucks,” our new family currency that can be earned by reading books, I have five very voracious readers in my house. I’m excited to see them reading, but I’m hoping the runners off the starting block lose a little bit of steam here shortly or I might go broke sooner than I thought.
Every book is assigned a point value depending on the reader and his reading level (i.e. the same book might be worth more points for one of my younger boys than my older ones) and one point=one “tucker buck.” When they’ve saved up some bucks, they can come shop at my “store”–a basket of goodies I’ve collected from clearance shelves and dollar stores. One tucker buck equals fifty cents in U.S. dollars–a slightly inflated currency, but it helps me keep my costs down a little and makes them have to work a little harder for their reward. Other things they can save their money for are iTunes gift cards and gift certificates to our local used book store (they must earn twenty tucker bucks to get a $10 gift card, of course).
I’ve already learned to set certain hours for my store, or I’ll be playing the role of store clerk all day. So, the boys have started to ask if my store is open, and when it opens, they very proudly show up with their “wallets” in hand, ready to cash in on their rewards. This is also a great lesson in math (counting money, making change). Finding play money was a little harder than I thought it would be, so I made a small investment in Melissa and Doug play money from Amazon–it is more real looking, and thus a little better of an educational lesson anyway as they practice spending money that looks like real money.
My upcoming fifth and sixth graders have to fill out brief book summaries for every book to prove they read and retained something from it, and my younger ones have to either read to me, their dad, or one of their older brothers, or I ask them questions about the book, before they get their tucker bucks. I also created baskets for each boy with specific books that I want them to read each month of the summer–there is plenty of room for them to pick their own books as well, that just helps me be sure they are reading some challenging books.
If it gets to the point where I feel like I have to refinance my house to keep up with the costs of this program, we can start to sell gift certificates for quality time with mom and dad too, like bike rides, fishing or games. There are many ways to get creative with it, we will just try to roll with it.
I always love to hear about other people’s reading incentives, so do share if you can!