Saturday, May 9, 2015

Summer Reading Challenge

Here's an idea that may help families get back into books, and keep the kids from going backwards academically over the summer... Of course, I only recommend doing this in households where the parents are comfortable exercising parental authority, or where every one agrees at the outset to see it through.

STEP 1: Choose a day of the week. I would suggest the night soonest AFTER whatever evening has the most shows the family likes to watch. Let's say Sunday, for example.

STEP 2: Make the commitment that every week, starting on that day, no one in the household will watch TV or use social media until he, she, or it has read a book. I'll leave it up to each family to work out amongst themselves whether that means nobody watches TV, etc., until everybody has read a book or whether each family member has to earn the right to tune in individually. Also, exceptions may be made on reasonable grounds with the consent of all; and, depending on who likes which shows, different family members may have to start the weekly challenge at a different time of week.

STEP 3: Keep a list of who read what, how many pages it was, and how many stars they would give it on a five star scale. The last bit is just for fun and maybe to interest other family members in the same book. Assign points for each family member's, or the whole family's, reading accomplishments. Extra credit may be given for writing a book review or creating book-inspired art, music, poetry, dramatic reenactments, oral reports, etc. Other family members may score the quality of each other's book choices and/or any extra credit they may have tried for. Regardless of how they decide to assign points, set a target number of points for each family member, or the whole family, to work toward. When they reach it, give them an extra treat like a ticket to the movies, a new computer game, a pizza party, a prize, whatever. After each reward, the counter goes back to zero and the reader(s) have to start earning points again.

The book each family member reads to fulfill his weekly quota should be something that could reasonably be called "a book" at that person's age and reading level. If they choose to go with lighter or shorter "books" than what the parents or whole family deems appropriate for them, maybe they have to read two. Ideally it should require each family member to spend at least a couple hours reading, or miss at least one evening of TV, etc.

Reading a book together, whether from separate copies or aloud, should count double toward the reward. Spending family TV time watching a book-based movie or TV program could also count as extra credit.

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