Reading Incentive Programs9:27 PM
A free personal pizza…a tub of Whole Foods ice cream…a box of doughnuts…a backpack—if I offered all these items to you for free, you would probably assume that I was kidding. But these are just a few example items that grade-school kids can get by…community service? Charitable donations? Paying money? Nope. Reading.
Many libraries, including my own local Redmond Regional library, offer reading incentive programs, often funded by philanthropic arms of companies such as Pizza Hut. You get a sheet on which “reading coaches”—parents, teachers, or guardians—sign their initials and the date to prove that you have read at least 20 minutes.There’s nothing wrong with the libraries that set up the reading incentive programs; understandably, the libraries want to get more people (especially the new generation) to read. What makes me angry is that kids do need incentives to read. The Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) website listed a few common complaints kids have about reading: “It's boring[…] I don't have the time[…] It's too hard […] It's not important […] It's no fun.” When kids complain about the food on their plates, we tell them that there are starving children in Africa. How are books different? Many people across the world do not have the chance to access reading material. We need to impress upon kids that the ability to read, and the presence of books, is a privilege and a great opportunity for them to learn.
One of the reasons kids may not embrace reading as much any more is that they have many other forms of recreation to distract them, from texting on cell phones to video games and sporting events. However, a big part of life is prioritizing. We need to compare the value of, say, Kung Fu Chaos, an ultra-violent “brawler game” (Xbox.com) to The Grapes of Wrath, an American classic that eloquently depicts the struggles of Depression-era people. Which one do you think sounds better?