Recently my 8yo son proudly told me he scored the highest amount of points in his year (some 200 kids) for the Principal’s Reading Challenge. His reward is a special lunch with the principal this week. The two highest scoring kids from each year will go and they get to choose whatever they want for lunch. I was super pleased as reading is something he tends to gravitate towards only when all other (read: electronic) options have been exhausted or confiscated. He’s a good reader, capable of reading well above his age/year average and I’m always looking for ways to encourage that. Both my husband and I are big readers and for me, I always have been. I read constantly as a child, Enid Blyton giving way to The Baby Sitters Club which gave way to Sweet Valley High.
So it was fantastic timing that I came across an instagram post from Tien of Tien’s Blurb, snapshotting a reading challenge she’d drawn up for her son for the Christmas holidays. I asked if she’d mind if I stole it and she directed me to this blog post where she’s posted templates for download and print. It’s split up into categories with points awarded for each completed one, as well as bonus points for achieving a section. I think this sounds great as my son is quite competitive and is especially motivated by the idea of rewards….hence his outstanding result in the reading challenge! I think the idea of telling him he can redeem points earned for reading for things like a trip to the pool or timezone, or perhaps a new game or something similar, will be great at spurring him to do as well as he can. I hope that he voluntarily picks up books over the holidays and expresses an interest in visiting the local libraries to source books that help him complete categories. We are blessed to have an amazing local library system with five branches and unfortunately we haven’t utilised it as much as we should recently due to the fact that I wracked up a rather large fine when the branch I visited was closed for relocation when they extended our local shopping centre. The other branches were located in places I have to go specifically out of my way to and I ended up forgetting about a pile of books. Oops! I returned them all and now I need to pay off the fine that accumulated so that we can get back in to using it properly.
We do intend to try and get out and about a bit this long break. For the northern hemisphere readers, we are entering our summer break and kids don’t resume school until either the last week in January or the first week in February. One thing we’ve done already is bought zoo passes (we have three zoos in the state we can visit with them) for this purpose. I’ve also planned a few day trips to coastal areas but on our down days I think this will be a good way to keep him occupied. Recently my 5yo, who starts “big school” next year brought a book over to me and asked me to read it. I said that he could probably read this himself and he really doubted that he could but once we got going, he realised that he could in fact, read 90% of the book without needing my help. That was a big moment for him, as he is a bit self-doubter who never quite believes in himself, so I think adapting this challenge for his younger age will also help give him a huge amount of confidence in his reading ability before he starts school. He already has “homework” to do so to speak over the holidays for his Occupational Therapy, so hopefully reading will feel like something that doesn’t require much work. He has a wonderful imagination and I think he will really enjoy immersing himself in stories.
If anyone has any other ways that they foster/encourage a love of reading in their kids I’d love to hear them. I want my kids to enjoy themselves and not have it feel like a chore…..and I also want them to take breaks from the electronic devices that litter our house these days! I’ll be updating here on the blog how they are going with the challenge throughout the holidays and with their final results. Massive thanks to Tien for letting me use her template and piggyback on her challenge too!