Growing up I always participated in the summer reading club at the local library. Since we still live in the same hometown, I was excited for my kids to get to do the same. They always really enjoyed the experience. However, a few summers ago, the reading club started changing its format every year.
One summer, it only required reading ONE book the entire summer. The kids ran out of motivation in the first week.
Then, they introduced a ticket system to earn rewards. That seemed fair, except it was based on the number of books read each week. The children had to read at least three books a week to even enter the raffle for the prizes. There were no parameters on length of books.
How to Host a Family Summer Reading Club!
My children quickly got frustrated when they were ready long novels and their peers were racking in the tickets reading short comic books. That is when we decided to host our own family reading club and ditch the dollar store prizes for real motivation and excitement.
Set the Date
Decide when everyone will begin and finish reading. Your reading club can last a week or the entire summer. Setting a schedule, gives everyone an opportunity to plan out their reading. Pick a reasonable amount of time. A few weeks is ideal.
If the club goes too long, it loses momentum. If it is too short, there’s not enough time to really get sucked into the world of reading.
Decide on a time frame that fits your schedule. We’ve done anything from ten days to six weeks! A mini reading club is a great for the winter months, when you just need a break from school! It’s also an option for when life gets busy with a new baby or move. The learning keeps going even when you can’t teach.
Family Summer Reading Club: Create a Point System
Next, you need to decide how readers will earn rewards. Since we have a large age span, we had to level the playing field a bit. Counting books didn’t work. We give points based on one short book or 20 pages of a longer book. This motivates the older children to delve into great literature without feeling like they have short changed themselves, as their younger siblings zoom ahead.
Here is our point plan:
2 points for a book or 20 pages read independently
2 points for a book read to a younger sibling
3 points for a complete audiobook
1 point for each chapter of family read-alouds
Family Summer Reading Club: Prizes, Prizes, Prizes
Now, here’s what the kids really want to know! What are the prizes? You don’t need expensive prizes. A family favorite reward, in our home, is a living room camp out. We set up air mattresses in the living room, read stories by flashlight, and watch a movie. It cost nothing, but it is always the most requested! So, living room camp outs cost 45 points!
Here are some other ideas:
- Treat from the dollar store
- Watch an extra show
- Dinner at the beach
- Play date
- Family hike
- Pick what’s for dinner
- Afternoon hike
- Family movie night, including popcorn
- Two days off of handwriting practice
- New book or audiobook
- Campfire dinner
- Day off of chores
- Afternoon at the park
- Make your own pizza party
- Ice cream cone
- $5 gift card to the dollar store
- Eat whatever you want for breakfast–yes, cookies count!
As you can see, most of these are very inexpensive. Most of them are free! The children are working more for experiences than plastic prizes. So this books club is cost effective and doesn’t create clutter. Both are big wins for homeschooling families.
Add it All Up
On the last day, collect the tally sheets. Give each participant their grand total and see who earned the most points. Celebrate finishing the book club. Pick something simple! The best part is spending the time together and celebrating in your accomplishments.
Set a time frame for redemption of prizes. This may seem unnecessary, but it prevents mom or dad from losing track of which prizes have been awarded. Nothing is worse than a child claiming a year later that he never got his prize, and you can’t remember if he did or not. This will keep up the excitement but also help transition back to everyday life.
How are you motivating your family reading this summer?
Jennifer Elia, homeschool consultant, mentor, blogger, and Amazon best selling author, is Founder of Sound Foundations Homeschool which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer provides one-on-one consulting, personalized and original curriculum plans, and practical advice for those just beginning their homeschool journey, as well as those who just need a little boost. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Pinterest.