How does one raise up a reader? This question was fiercely on my mind. I have a seven-year-old and she is an excellent reader. She understands and comprehends what she reads quite easily. She has her SOL standard can read. She is not the child left behind. Her problem, she does not want to read. She would NEVER finish a book. She had a stack of about 5 books at the end of her bed. An abridged version of Jane Eyre, The Voyage of the Dontreader, Harry Potter, Wings of Fire, her bible, and Rays Arithmetic. Truly. These were joined by a stack of picture story books. I do not hold against her an incomplete bible or math text book; however, she would not get far enough into a chapter book to get hooked. She just read the introduction and moved on to another book. Well, after about a month of saying “just pick one book,” “read one book,” “finish one chapter book,” and my girl staring at the ceiling with her one book in hand for the allotted time. I knew there had to be a better way.
I thought about how to incentivize her. In my frustration, I thought of it more as bribery, but they really are the same at their core. I led myself here. My husband goes to work to earn money; therefore, if reading is her work, then how was she to get paid? I quickly decided that our 1 income needed an alternative to money and expensive rewards. I saw Pokemon cards in target and bought a pack. My original intention was to tape it to the back of the book. They are $4 a pack and a book is $6. I decided to spit it up. I put it in a ziplock and taped it character side down to the back cover.
When she came home from school I handed her the book. She was less than excited to see that card. She gave me this glare that I remember giving my mother. That unspoken “you got me.” She asked me what the card was? Was it this character? This color? How many health point? I made certain to remember no details about the card and told her it was just as much a mystery to me as it was to her. We went over the rules a number of times, no peeking or no card. Read the last page of the book and get the card. She said “well, I guess I’ll go ahead and read my chapter now” and off she went. I was surprised. Step 1 – volunteering to read her chapter! Yes!
The next day her book went to school with her. Her friends were excited to find out what the card was too. Two days later she was done with 1/3 of the book. She was complaining it took so long to read and she just wanted the card. A week later she had reached the last 1/3 of the book and now she is telling me parts of the story at breakfast. I have not had to coerce her to read any more. Remind her or argue with her, she just reads. She finished the book and begged for the next book. It took me a couple days to get to the store and she was quite anxious to start again.
I am so thrilled to say 1 month later she has read books 2 & 3 of the Wings of Fire series. She started book 4 last night in bed and the best part is what she said at breakfast today.
“I started reading just to get the Pokemon cards, and now all I want is the story.”
She figured out why we read. She got there all on her own. The best part, it cost me 2 Pokemon cards!
I just discovered how to raise up a reader.