Money for Medals

Josie Leavitt -- July 24th, 2013

There are lots of strategies parents use to get their kids to read. Some have timers, some promise treats or toys, but yesterday I heard a new one. A mom came in with her two kids — a boy who was 11, and a girl who was about 8. These kids were nice, polite and seemed very well versed medalin books, especially the Newbery Award winners.

It turns out the mom paid the kids $5 for every Newbery medal book they read in the past year. These kids have been reading up a storm and collecting a small fortune at the same time. I asked if the $5 only applied to the medal winners, or did Honor books count as well. “Now, they’ll get $5 for book with a shiny sticker,” the mom said.  So, these kids can read an honor book, a National Book award winner, or finalist and when they’re oler, the Printz award winners.

I’m not really sure how I feel about kids getting money to read. This is a slippery slope that might wind up being counter-productive. I can see a little bribe here or there turning into kids not reading anything unless they get some cold, hard cash. Let’s face it, some people just don’t like to read, and why is that okay for adults, but not kids?  The flip side of this argument is, these two kids have read some pretty amazing books.

3 thoughts on “Money for Medals

  1. Charlotte Glover

    As a mom and a librarian, it doesn’t really bother me. Honestly, I wish more families would even take an interest in books enough to “pay” for them or value them. Kids are concrete. They like rewards. A lot of kids are not natural readers. We design elaborate summer reading clubs with prizes to motivate kids at the library, so I don’t see why a little cash can’t be thrown around at home to keep a kid on track. But $5 seems high to me LOL! I gave my 7 year old a dime for every book he read when he was working on his easy readers LOL!

  2. Ann Rinaldi

    I was not allowed t0 read as a child. My “job” was to follow around my younger half brother’and
    keep him entertained all day. He did not like books. He had a library of his own that he never
    touched but I was not allowed access to it..I invented a game called “library” to get him to
    read but he wanted no part of it. When he was out of the house with my father & step-mother
    I stole into his room & read the books. So reading, for me, was a subversive activity. A stolen delight
    and I grew up to be a published writer. (Incidently, his name for me, which he was allowed to
    use in the house, was “Stupid”)

  3. elizabeth Dulemba

    My parents did something similar with me… I was paid $10 for every classic I read (as deemed by the reading list of a local private school), but I had to write a 1 page report as to why it was profound. For every other sort of book I read, I made $1. Needless to say, I read a lot of classics as a result. I thought it was rather brilliant of them really. :) e

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