Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Reading Programs

Now I remember why we don't do these. We used to do the Summer Reading Program at the library and the Barnes & Noble one. We stopped years ago. The kids have asked to do them again every single year since then. So, this year, I said okay to the one at the library. We did not bother with the one for Barnes & Noble, because the book choices they offer as rewards are so limited. Here is how the Summer Reading Program at our library works:

I'll skip the stuff dealing with with the programs for pre-readers & adults & just focus on the ones that matter to us. Readers through age 12 are expected to read 15 books. After 5, they get a coupon for a free ice cream cone. After 10, for a free personal pizza from Pizza Hut. After the full 15, they get a  book, a cheap dollar store toy, a free pass to a water park we never go to, and a certificate of completion. Then, they can read 10 more an get one final prize, another cheap toy. You don't even have to read books to fill in all the entries. Children reading longer books can count every 100 pages as a book. Plus, they have activities related to the theme for the program (different theme each year), and those count, too. I have always required  the kids to count only full books that were at or above grade level, because of the low expectations the program has. This year, my son finished all 25 books, in 3 weeks. Every book he read was at or above his 'grade level' (3rd grade). The easiest books were Goosebumps & American Chillers. His list also included several 6th grade level books, and even some non-fiction books he read for school. So, it's not like he read just a bunch of too easy books. The Goosebumps & American Chillers are too easy for him, as his comfort level is 6th-8th grade books, but he still really enjoys those books.  He was hoping that they would let him do it again, but no such luck. They only allow each child to complete it once per summer.

The YA program only expects 10 books. Once you finish, you get a certificate of completion, a pass to the water park, a $5 coupon to a local fast food place, and entry into a drawing to win the Grand Prize (limo ride & movie for 4). You can complete it more than once, with each additional completion earning only an additional entry in the drawing. My daughter has already completed it, at least three times (I think she handed in the 4th last week, though I'm not sure).

This has reminded me why we don't bother with these programs. They are for motivating kids who are not motivated to read. They reward reading with junk food and cheap toys. I think this year was the first time the books offerings (for the children's program) had a book one of my kids wanted, and that's only because it included a Goosebumps. The YA doesn't even give a book as a reward. The expectations are way too low, especially for kids like mine. My son was rather proud of how quickly he completed his, but was upset he couldn't do it again. My daughter also seems proud of how many times she has completed hers. Unfortunately, that means they'll be asking to do it again next year. I really hope to convince them not to, since I just don't see it as being of value to them.