If you are a parent of a school age child, I think you will agree that there are joys and sorrows associated with summer vacation. It seems to be that one of my greatest summer stresses is that about 3-4 weeks in, I become quite certain that all my kid’s brains are turning to mush. Suddenly, it becomes “too hot” to play outside and everyone is spending all their free time in front of screens. Our local library hosts a simple reading challenge, but my older kids just aren’t enticed by the rewards. That’s why I created our own Kid’s Summer Read-A-Thon.

Create Your Own Kid’s Summer Read-A-Thon

A Read-A-Thon doesn’t have to take place during the summer. We actually have week-long Read-A-Thons over Christmas break and during Fall and Spring break as well.

Why have a Read-A-Thon?

One goal that I have for my children is that they will become life-long learners. The easiest way to help them achieve this is to foster in them a love of reading. Some of my kids caught the reading bug early, but for a few…well, they still desire a little extra incentive.

We give desirable prizes during our Read-A-Thons, so our kids become very focused on obtaining those prizes. Not only do they turn down screen time (YES!), but they also bicker less. And I never hear “I’m bored” during a Read-A-Thon week. I’m not kidding, if a good prize is on the line, they will even finish their chores quickly so that they can get back to reading!

Create Your Own Summer Read-A-Thon

Creating Your Read-A-Thon

Basically, you will just need to do 3 things to create your Kid’s Summer Read-A-Thon.

1. Decide on the details, choosing desirable incentives. You will first want to pick a start and end date. You can choose for your Read-A-Thon to last the entire Summer or just one week.

Next, you will need to choose your rules and incentives. Instead of rewarding students for number of books read, we like to reward them for number of pages read. This actually encourages our kids to choose books with more pages, instead of skipping over the “big books”. It also allows for our kids to compete with each other…don’t worry, sibling competition can be healthy as long as everyone keeps it encouraging! My beginning reader might be reading an easy chapter book with only 50 words per page, while my teen might be reading a 200-word-per-page book. By making sure they are each reading age appropriate books, we level out playing field by scoring according to ‘number of pages read’.

We like to give rewards in the following ways.

-We give a small reward for every 200 pages read. Personally, we like to give $1. Money is a huge incentive to our kids. We do not give allowance and we do not pay for everyday chores. It is only on a rare occasion that we will pay our kids for doing a special job around the house. We were actually pretty shocked at how many pages our kids read during our first Read-A-Thon, so we quickly decided that we needed to put a cap on the amount each child could earn. We have a lot of kids, so we decided to cap it at $10 per kid. If our child reads 2,000 pages they earn the full $10. Alternatively, you could give $2 per 200 pages allowing your kid to earn $20 by reading 2,000 pages. If you don’t want to give money, you could also choose a special treat, 30 minutes of screen time, a trip to the park, etc. for every 200 pages.

We also give a special reward to the Top Readers. Those who read the most or those who complete 2,000 pages, get to go out with mom and dad. My husband and I have a weekly date night that the kids never get to go on. For whatever reason, our kids have decided that it is the ultimate treat to be included on our date nights. We keep it simple and usually just go to dinner and a movie. You will want to choose a special incentive that is unique to your child. Maybe you will buy them a toy they’ve been wanting if they read 2,000 pages. Or plan a fun day to the zoo or amusement park. Just make sure that it is enticing and they you really celebrate the accomplishment of reading so much!

Our kids have recently been asking for one of these bean bag chairs and I’m considering purchasing one for our top Read-A-Thon winner.

I think it would make a great prize considering I wouldn’t mind curling up in it with a good book! 

 2. Create a chart. Use a large poster board to chart each child’s Read-A-Thon progress or give each child their own chart. I’ve made this easy for you by creating a Free Read-A-Thon printable.

Kids Read-A-Thon Free Printable

Fill out the simple form below and you’ll receive the Read-A-Thon printable by email. Then, print one for each child.

3. Finally, go to the library. You’ll need books for your Read-A-Thon and lots of them! Before your library trip, discuss the rules and rewards of your Read-A-Thon with your kids. Encourage them to pick out more books than they think they can finish. They will probably be surprised at how much they enjoying reading once they start and how many pages they can complete!

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