Monday, August 11, 2008

To Prize or Not to Prize?

Do you guys know about CYS-Lib? It's an email listserv for people working with children in Colorado public libraries.

There's been a great conversation on it recently about whether or not libraries should hand out prizes (and if so, what kind, and how much should we spend) for kids who participate in summer reading programs.

This is a perennial discussion topic! There are those of us who feel that if we hand out prizes for reading then we aren't encouraging the right attitude--that reading should be its own reward.

But there are those of us who feel that while kids who are already readers will read regardless, kids who aren't "natural readers" or who struggle with reading really do respond to the challenge and reward of prizes for achievement.

There are others of us in the middle ground--okay with prizes, but looking to place them in a context that includes our "whole package" of programs, books, information, hangout spots, etc. and also looks to include other types of rewards. Some libraries make donations to charities for every hour or book kids read past their required reading, for instance.

What do you think about all this? Leave us a comment! Your Summer Reading Program Committee is listening!

If you'd like to sign up to receive the CYS-Lib emails, send an email to: Leave your subject line blank and in the message body, write the two-line message:
subscribe cys-lib

If you'd like to see what some of the discussion has been, let me know and I'll round them up to share.


Jill Corrente said...

I hope this isn't completely unpopular, but I'd like to see the cheapy prizes toned down a bit and more money/effort put into "celebrating" reading. A bigger end of the summer finale, maybe, and just coupons as weekly prizes? I'm dating myself, I'm sure, but what I remember of summer reading as a kid was my name up on a board--I got to put a star sticker next to my name for every book I read--and a huge finale. We had local celebrities handing out prizes to kids based on how much they had read (and that really amounted to a book and a McDonald's coupon, I think).

Dee said...

I agree with Jill in that I like the book prizes and coupons. Maybe one toy prize that is a little better quality. As a child (many, many years ago) I just saw my horse race across the board or got stars for reading. My home town this year actually had a program where the representative of the book company presented the free book to those who had completed the first one or two weeks of reading. Of course, that was a small town so would take forever to do that here. But they stressed the importance of the book prize and still had other prizes after that. We do so much with special programs, craft programs, etc. that are free throughout the summer. These are rewards for coming to the library also. As far as bringing in those kids who don't normally read I think that is a "parent" sell as well. Thanks for listening!

Melissa said...

As for me, I don't mind the prizes, though I'd love to look at what some of our other options might be besides small plastic stuff...I don't think they bring in kids who are total non-readers so much as serve as an incentive for kids who need a little nudge, and I'm totally okay with that idea.

As to the bulletin board ideas, while I like the idea of putting up a shape with the child's name on it, I'm hesitant to get into adding stickers per book or moving the shape on the board, because I'm conscious of the kids for whom each book is an achievement and would only get a few stickers all summer being made to look less awesome by the kids (like I was) who wind up with a shape crammed with stickers.

I like our system in that everyone is rewarded in the same way & we count days reading instead of books or pages.

cheryl said...

I think prizes are fun for all kids. Maybe instead of so many small prizes, we could give out 2 books per child along with coupons. The first book could be in the first couple of weeks and the second book at the end of SRP. We do offer many fun programs for the kids to attend and everyone loves to have a new book.

Elisabeth said...

I'm interested in exploring the option of not giving out prizes on a weekly basis and look at ways of rewarding based on time spent reading/being read to (making the goal attainable for all levels of readers). Also, I do appreciate the fact that having a summer reading theme is fun and it gives us a focus (I'm a theme-party kind of girl!) I wonder, though, if sometimes the theme constricts us, especially in terms of prizes. Maybe the toy prizes and theme don't need to be so closely related?

I like what you said about "celebrating" reading Jill. I agree!

Alyson said...
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