Children's Books discussion

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Conversations: books & readers > Do you think kids should read for pleasure or prizes? Weigh in.

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message 1: by Nikk (new)

Nikk Robinson (NikkRobinson) | 5 comments "Why do teachers feel that they need to give out points and rewards for a simple act that is rewarding in itself?" That quote comes from a short article on The Guardian website. Do you think kids should read for the sheer pleasure of it or is it okay to incentivize them with points and prizes?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to weigh in here and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkBooks/status/...

The Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/childrens...


message 2: by Vavita (last edited Jun 29, 2016 04:15AM) (new)

Vavita I think it is necessary at the beginning. My son is 7 and, as a school requirement, he has to read aloud everyday for 15 minutes. Every time he completes a book, he gets a candy from the teacher.
During first grade, reading was difficult for him and he read for the candy.
Does he read for the candy now in second grade? No. He does not care about it. But he is happy when he gets one.
Sometimes he asks me to buy him 2 books. One for school, which he reads only for 15 minutes, for example Geburtstag im Heimattierpark and one for fun, with which he can spend sometimes a complete hour, like Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia
I do not think it is bad to have a incentive at the beginning. I think it is more important not to make reading a burden. At some point they discover the pleasure of reading on their own, specially if parents are readers too


message 3: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments I feel only a few children naturally take to reading without outside motivation. I am lucky enough to remember learning to read. I was self motivated to read, but even so, I remember how frustrating it was to read three words, run into a word I didn't know, struggle through it and read another few words. I would reach the end of the paragraph and have to read it all over again because the effort to read the words meant missing the point of the whole paragraph. You have to be a good reader to enjoy reading. I feel that rewards are appropriate to encourage children to read until reading is easy enough to be pleasurable.


message 4: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6686 comments Mod
Totally depends on the child.

Mine were surrounded by avid readers, read aloud to, given tight limits on screen time at home, given both carrot and stick at school... and do very little reading (and even less tv) now. They're just not as interested in books (or even magazines) as they are in real-life activities, online forum discussions, video-games, and podcast kinds of media.

It's not reading vs. wasting time ... it's reading vs. all sorts of other choices....

But, yes, as Vavita says, the most important thing is to make sure reading is not seen as a burden, as a chore, as an obligation to try to evade. (My three say they don't mind reading, but claim they can't find time to do so.)


message 5: by Janis (new)

Janis Cox (authorjaniscox) Children do what they see. If you read, they will want to. Read to them. Involve them in the story. Be interactive. Motivation to read should come from a desire to know more, to enjoy a good tale. I wouldn't give prizes. But if this works I guess it's okay. I would like them to read because they want to.


message 6: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6686 comments Mod
Janis wrote: "Children do what they see. If you read, they will want to...."

I wish. I was the perfect mommy this way, honest. And Dad was good, and grandparents... but no, it's not guaranteed. Some kids need more and other kinds of encouragement, and some just don't ever get into reading. I think we all have to be honest when we have discussions on this topic and admit that there's only so much that role models & caregivers can do.


message 7: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2566 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Janis wrote: "Children do what they see. If you read, they will want to...."

I wish. I was the perfect mommy this way, honest. And Dad was good, and grandparents... but no, it's not guaranteed. So..."


I agree with Cheryl. I read to both of my children when they were young (and I am a voracious reader myself). My son loves to read, but my daughter does not, except for some magazines. Sometimes, it just depends on the personality of the child. She is more like Cheryl's sons--would rather do other things.


message 8: by Catherine (last edited Jun 30, 2016 07:54AM) (new)

Catherine | 5 comments In response to the original query, "Why do teachers feel that they need to give out points and rewards for a simple act that is rewarding in itself?" As a classroom teacher, I know that we can enthusiastically spin a tale of confidence regarding charts, points, reading logs, and prizes. Be aware that this may be the teacher's personal belief, or it may be imposed by administration or a professional learning community within the school or school district. When I became a parent and later, a professional educator, I believed that creating a love for reading would be as simple as teaching the requisite skills and modeling the desired behavior. Oh, if only! Today's children are becoming readers in a world of infinite distractors as well as new and different presentations of reading materials. Guiding children to become avid readers has never been more complex. But with regard for the individual child, and a willingness for adults to encourage them in a variety of ways, the world of reading can be inhabited by our children. For some children it will mean reading the necessary material with success, while for others it will mean devouring books for pleasure.


message 9: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
I think it depends on the child, and if something gets children to read, why not, although personally, I would rather not see prizes that are candy/food based.

My grandmother practiced multiplication tables with me, by reading as a reward a very famous classic German children's series to me every time I had mastered a table or done well. I loved to read and math was a pain (still is), but because at that time, this particular series was still a bit too difficult for me to read on my own (I was seven) but a favourite, the anticipation of another chapter or two read to me, made me practice my multiplication tables with more than grudging acceptance.


message 10: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6686 comments Mod
Your comment prompted a question in my mind. Isn't arithmetic a pretty important life skill? Assuming agreement, why don't we fret that children shouldn't fall in love with multiplication tables and fractions and compound interest just because they have good role models?

It's ok to despise math and not understand how much banks and actuaries are impacting our lives, but it's not ok to dislike reading novels?

Just something for all of us to think about.


message 11: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments I was an avid reader in my teenage years, but gave up reading in my twenties and only have come back to it in my thirties. I think the important thing is to be sure that children can read well. Whether or not they read for entertainment later is not as important. if you have to give rewards to successfully teach a vital life skill like reading or math, then do it. Love of reading is not a guarantee. I loved reading and I grew up in a family where I was the only reader. I had a decade or so where I may have read only two books. Sometimes life is just too busy. My twenties were too busy for reading.


message 12: by Vavita (new)

Vavita Jennifer wrote: "I was an avid reader in my teenage years, but gave up reading in my twenties and only have come back to it in my thirties. I think the important thing is to be sure that children can read well. Whe..."

My experience exactly. Totally agree


message 13: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Your comment prompted a question in my mind. Isn't arithmetic a pretty important life skill? Assuming agreement, why don't we fret that children shouldn't fall in love with multiplication tables an..."

I agree, but today's teachers often do not think that learning the multiplication tables by rote is even acceptable.


message 14: by Vavita (new)

Vavita Manybooks wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "Your comment prompted a question in my mind. Isn't arithmetic a pretty important life skill? Assuming agreement, why don't we fret that children shouldn't fall in love with multiplic..."

Yeah, I was surprised about that. I learned by memory. My son learned the multiplication in a different way (to make sure that he really understood what it was about) and only after 5 months, they told him to learned the tables by memory.
I don't see the point. I always knew what it was about and didn't have any issues memorizing, understand and all at the same time.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Vavita wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "Your comment prompted a question in my mind. Isn't arithmetic a pretty important life skill? Assuming agreement, why don't we fret that children shouldn't fall in l..."

When I started school in Germany in the 70s (we moved to Canada in 1976), we were "taught" math with colourful rods and cones. It definitely did not work for me, so I doubly appreciated my grandmother drilling the tables with me.


message 16: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2566 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Your comment prompted a question in my mind. Isn't arithmetic a pretty important life skill? Assuming agreement, why don't we fret that children shouldn't fall in love with multiplication tables an..."

I agree that arithmetic is pretty important, even though I was never particularly good at it. I use a calculator for most arithmetic functions. Avid readers do not necessarily read novels--my dad was an avid reader of political books, political magazines, and newspapers. I don't remember him ever reading a novel.


message 17: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6686 comments Mod
That's exactly what I mean, Beverly. Thank you for saying it more clearly.

From what I recall when I was in teacher training, and when my kids were in grade school, the teachers focused on loving fiction. Not non-fiction, not math, not even science. If a kid wasn't into reading fiction, s/he needed to be motivated with competitions and candy....


message 18: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Williams | 4 comments Not all reading is a pleasure so I little incentive wouldn't hurt. For example a Roald Dahl book would be hopefully pleasureable and one where you wouldn't need to "bribe" the child. If it was a study book "applied maths for 10 year olds" then a little reward doesn't hurt if it works I suppose?


message 19: by Jennifer (last edited Jul 18, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments J.C. wrote: "Not all reading is a pleasure so I little incentive wouldn't hurt. For example a Roald Dahl book would be hopefully pleasureable and one where you wouldn't need to "bribe" the child. If it was a st..."

You would hope so, but, I recommend Dahl all the time at my local library and can't get any takers. I know that most of us are attached to Dahl and the original illustrations, however, today's children do not find the covers or illustrations appealing.

As much as I hate myself for saying it, Dahl's books need a glamour makeover to appeal to today's children. Either that or bribery to get kids to try them even though they don't like the cover or illustrations.


message 20: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Williams | 4 comments Awe thats sad, I love (Sir) Quentin Blake - would love one of his original drawings.


message 21: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "J.C. wrote: "Not all reading is a pleasure so I little incentive wouldn't hurt. For example a Roald Dahl book would be hopefully pleasureable and one where you wouldn't need to "bribe" the child. I..."

As long as the actual content is not changed (nothing worse than reading a book obviously set in the 70s and 80s that has been superficially changed to now include emails and cell phones, it just reads strangely and uncomfortably).


message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael Fitzgerald | 367 comments Quentin Blake wasn't the original illustrator for the classic early Dahl books. He came in with The Enormous Crocodile in 1978. Later he was asked to reillustrate all the older books (like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, James & the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Danny, Champion of the World). I know that Blake was Dahl's own preferred choice, but for some reason that uniformity doesn't thrill me - maybe it's the stylistic sameness of his illustrations. I like variety. Also, Blake is all over the place with different authors, and I like him so much with J. P. Martin's The Complete Uncle series that I kind of wish he didn't spread it around.

In terms of makeovers, James & the Giant Peach has been redone post-Blake by Lane Smith. Maybe that appeals to kids, but for me, the original (U.S.) illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert are the best. Most, if not all, are seen here:

http://myvintagebookcollectioninblogform.blogspot.com/2013/02/james-and-giant-peach-illustrated-by.html

Instead of a "glamour makeover" I lean toward the bribery. Somehow the incentive of a golden ticket seems just right in this case. But I worry that too many of today's kids are far beyond the excesses of Mike Teavee.


message 23: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6686 comments Mod
Oh, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, yes. Your link sent me straight to http://myvintagebookcollectioninblogf... - about 1/2way down the page are her illustrations for Edward Lear's the Scroobious Pip. Golly.

But would today's children appreciate those? Well. Think of it this way. We won't know if we never try. To get a child to eat an unfamiliar food, put just one bite on their plate and don't make a fuss if they don't want more. Maybe they'll be more interested next time. Same with books. Check out their chosen pile of accessible crap, but sneak one richer, more complex work in the pile, too.


message 24: by Maria (new)

Maria Matthews | 7 comments I would love to believe that they would read for pleasure but in today's world many kids are bribed by parents to do the correct thing so in a sense, I think the teachers are simply following that trend. In my house I read every night to them from an early age and I think it became a habit for them to read.


message 25: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Planck (httpwwwandrewplanckcom) If they have to be bribed then they experience no pleasure in their reading. It's just something to get through as quickly as possible so they can get back to texting.


message 26: by Maria (new)

Maria Matthews | 7 comments I agree with Andrew but what we tend to forget is that we should allow them a choice of book to read. My son only began to have an interest in reading when he discovered the large number of natural history books in the library adult section at the age of 5, up until then reading was a chore but when we began to take these books out for him his reading ability improved.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Maria wrote: "I agree with Andrew but what we tend to forget is that we should allow them a choice of book to read. My son only began to have an interest in reading when he discovered the large number of natural..."

I think having more choices for reading is essential.


message 28: by Helen (new)

Helen Velikans (helenvelikans) | 1 comments In our home we all read for pleasure. I think modelling is very important in this arena, if children see their parents reading and enjoying the activity, they are more likely to do so themselves. This is particularly important for boys. When they see their fathers/significant male role models reading, it makes a world of difference to their attitudes as well as their understanding of the importance of reading in their lives and education. Where parents/extended family members read with children, the effect is dramatic and lays a strong foundation for future educational success.


message 29: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2566 comments Mod
Helen wrote: "In our home we all read for pleasure. I think modelling is very important in this arena, if children see their parents reading and enjoying the activity, they are more likely to do so themselves. T..."

This approach only worked partially in my home. I not only read to both my children (boy and girl), but they also saw me reading my own books. My son grew up to be an avid reader, but my daughter did not. I could never figure out why she did not pick up my love of reading or my son's love of reading.


message 30: by A.K. (new)

A.K. Klemm | 3 comments As a child, I remember doing both - and enjoying the act and result of both. Reading for pleasure is wonderful and a natural thing for a kid to do when they see others do it, when they are read to often, and when they truly begin to see for themselves all the worlds there are to visit within the pages of a book. But offering incentives and prizes can be a fun motivator too. I loved doing summer reading programs and the AR program at school. I'm a very type A, list oriented human in general, I found pleasure in tackling lists and points as long as I can remember. It broadened my horizons, encouraged me to pick up things I wouldn't have otherwise. My kiddo loves to be read to, and is slowly learning to love to read herself (she's only five, so it's a bit of work for her right now)... But we keep books going that she *must* sit and listen to me read, and then ones she has chosen for me to read for her. The reward for sitting through the required reading without interruptions is the pleasure of listening to the fun book she chose. Sometimes we participate in reading programs with lists and logs, sometimes we don't. I let her decide if she wants to. But we read all the time. It's a way of life and she's never known a home without books in it.


message 31: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Lister | 4 comments The problem is whether the reward itself helps. Some years ago educational researchers experimented with various tasks and rewards and found that although a reward for completing a task may have an initial effect (added impetus) it actually diminished the intrinsic value or pleasure of the task and meant that those rewarded became less motivated and pesistent so a reward for reading may actually be counter-productive.
Incidentally, of my two children home educated (now adult), the daughter learned to read easily , the son found it more difficult. At one point (about 6 years old) we had to make him read to us several times a day - but no reward! However both were avid readers well into their teenage years. Now however my son is still passionate about books but my daughter "only reads on holiday" and says she is too busy living.


message 32: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 27, 2016 08:27AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Rosemary wrote: "The problem is whether the reward itself helps. Some years ago educational researchers experimented with various tasks and rewards and found that although a reward for completing a task may have an..."

Funny, I consider books and reading as living.

I think a reward, or perhaps praise (like a gold star) might work initially, but probably should be used sparingly once the child has learned to read or rather learned to appreciate reading. I never had any issues with reading and/or enjoying books, but if I had received a bit of encouragement and the like with regard to math, perhaps I would have both a better attitude to and appreciation of math and science based on math, not to mention better and retainable skills (labeling me as inherently and willfully lazy just because I had great marks in language and literature courses and both struggled with and even could not easily comprehend mathematics was NOT very proactive in any way).


message 33: by Vavita (new)

Vavita It also depends on the personality. Not everybody enjoys reading, just like not everybody enjoys dancing, or exercising, etc.
I solve algebra problems for fun. My son also plays "doing homework" once his real homework is done. I cannot complain if he likes doing math more than reading. He likes just not that much and if he has the option to choose reading or solving math problems, it will NOT be reading


message 34: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 27, 2016 11:03AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Vavita wrote: "It also depends on the personality. Not everybody enjoys reading, just like not everybody enjoys dancing, or exercising, etc.
I solve algebra problems for fun. My son also plays "doing homework" o..."


Exactly, everyone is different. I hate math, but that is mostly because I have never been good at it, and have always had trouble with even basic math concepts.

The main point for me though is that teachers, parents etc. need check, to make sure that a student who does not enjoy reading really simply does not enjoy reading all that much and does not have a reading based learning disability affecting his or her reading and word processing skills (and possible enjoyment of reading and words) and that a student who does not like math all that much, really just does not like math and does not have a math based learning disability affecting math skills, comprehension and the possible enjoyment of mathematics. I went through school and university absolutely despising math, and more than likely with unrecognised non verbal learning disabilities (spatially and mathematically), but this was simply not recognised at that time, mostly because it was a relatively recent field, but also because I had extremely high marks in certain academic courses and the rather low marks in science and the very low marks in math were just assumed to be due to me "not trying hard enough" (read being willfully lazy according to my math teachers and parents).


message 35: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 28, 2016 05:59AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "I was an avid reader in my teenage years, but gave up reading in my twenties and only have come back to it in my thirties. I think the important thing is to be sure that children can read well. Whe..."

I actually had to read tons of books in my 20s, all for university, all basically dense literary or academic tomes. Thus while I was constantly reading, actually having time to read for pleasure was rather rare.


message 36: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) (jenisnotabooksnob) | 170 comments Manybooks wrote: "I actually had to read tons of books in my 20s, all for university, all basically dense literary or academic tomes. Thus while I was constantly reading, actually having time to read for pleasure was rather rare. "

Ah yes, I always forget that a lot of people are in college in their 20's. I had to wait until my 30's to go and was so excited to finally get to go that I just absorbed those text books. (Long story, parents thought college unnecessary, made too much money so no scholarships for me and they didn't want to kick in any money they'd rather buy another boat and vacation home. Had to wait until I was old enough for their income not to count to finally go to college.)


message 37: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I actually had to read tons of books in my 20s, all for university, all basically dense literary or academic tomes. Thus while I was constantly reading, actually having time to re..."

That really really bugs me how and that parents who are well-off can really scuttle person's college and university dreams. It is now easier to get scholarships even if that is the case, but in many instances you actually have to disassociate yourself from your parents, which is also a bit of a Hobson's choice or can be.

I heard of a Korean girl whose parents were extremely wealthy who ended up not being able to attend university because her father refused to pay for daughters to attend institutions of higher learning and another who had to drop out and make money because her rich parents quit supporting her when she decided that she was not interested in studying medicine but wanted to study history and languages instead.


message 38: by Vavita (new)

Vavita I cannot even phantom stories like that! My mother had to get to credits to get me through college. She stopped paying them 10 years after I graduated.


message 39: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 28, 2016 10:09AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8493 comments Mod
Vavita wrote: "I cannot even phantom stories like that! My mother had to get to credits to get me through college. She stopped paying them 10 years after I graduated."

I know, horrible! And with families that are wealthy and refuse to support their children's university wishes (often daughters), until very recently, the daughters could not even get (as Jennifer has pointed out) student loans or scholarships as their parents were deemed (and they themselves were deemed) to be too wealthy.


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