I was excited when it was announced at storytime a couple of months ago that they offered a Summer Reading Program. Admittedly, I had really become lazy since the move & the quantity of books we were reading weekly was just nothing like it had been previous to the move. We all needed some incentive, myself included.
I picked a relatively small number for Sister-girl, 21, because I only wanted to genuinely list new books where I felt as though she was "listening" or giving me some amount of her attention. She is frequently around when Rooney and I are reading together and I know she benefits from that as well. Taking into account weeks we would be traveling and off of our normal home schedule, I set a goal of 70 for Rooney. He's turning 4 this month and when I said "70" out loud I thought, "seriously, that is rediculous." The math just added up though - broken down weekly is was 10-12 new books a week.
As for incentive, I had never really needed incentive for Rooney but he was new to the idea of setting a goal....especially one with such a large number attached to it! When we talked about it, he honestly just acted like he wasn't interested! I was shocked! I explained what a goal was and how at the end you got a reward for reaching your goal. That's when he shouted out "a forklifter!!" It is still funny to me! I wasn't even sure I could find a toy forklift. Reliable Amazon quickly answered that question and for a price tag of about $16, I was happy to make a deal and firm up this goal.
Week after week we visited the library, choosing books that fit the kiddos interest. Dogs, trains, farms, food (well, they are little foodies in all honesty!), dinosaurs, otters, cowboys, friends, family. Every week there would be at least two books that I would say "how did I not know about this AWESOME book?!" It was contagious, with even my Lifetime Love and I discussing what great "finds" we were discovering with the children.
I knew the benefit up front: more quiet, focused family time. Well, at least that was what I was thinking. The benefits were truly so much more than I had imagined though! Seventy "new" books being introduced to a soon to be four year old, in less than two months.... his vocabulary completely blossomed! The verbal changes have been so positively overwhelming!
Our goals were to be completed by last Friday and even this Momma felt rather accomplished when it was time to turn our reading list in!
There were plenty of treats & incentives provided by the local library too! All the kiddos reaching their goals were given backpacks full of "coupons" good for items around town...a burger, cookie dough, cinnamon sticks...and of course a new toothbrush & toothpaste to remedy all those free sweet treats! Perhaps best of all was that each child was able to pick a book to take home from a designated "stack." Not just good books...great books! It would have been impossible for me to choose, so the kiddos happily picked their own.
I'm pretty certain Sister-girl just picked the largest book she could fit in her hands, and it came as no surprise that my Rooney chose a Little Bear book - he just might be Little Bear's biggest fan ;)
((Excuse Rooney's "seriously Mom, another picture?" look!!))
The forklifter? Well, I decided that in order for it to be truly a life lesson that he had to complete the goal fully and then get it, and since we had agreed he could order it from Amazon I stuck to my guns and didn't let him order it until he turned his list in. Sure, I could have told him a few days before that he would be done soon and we could go ahead and get it ordered, but this just seemed like a good life lesson. He really made me proud. All summer, he made me proud, but perhaps super proud when we ordered that forklifter and he waited for it to be delivered!
Sister-girl is quite the cheerleader....she was so super excited for him! Next year she will be old enough to join in on the "goal setting" lesson. I really should have photographed her with her new toothbrush - she loves a toothbrush! ((It's the small things to her!))
And yes....when we turned in our reading list, we promptly checked out about fifteen more "new" books. We're addicted to this goodness!