These holidays I have been thinking of what I can launch week one of our new academic year in the form of a reading incentive program (I do also want to use a better word than program) to encourage the most children to read the most books, the most widely, right across all year levels.
There are a number of mass reading programs I am aware of and all have their positive and negative points, some are commercial and some are run by agencies - government, associations, teachers. I want something where I do not have to outlay money to purchase, I want it to appeal to all ages (K-9), I want the students to be encouraged to step out of their comfort zone to read an author they have not read before. I would prefer it not to be competitive (although maybe house points could be incorporated) and I want it to be able to fit with our current "new library" limited collection.
I have come up with something I think will work, that is easy to manage and easy to communicate to the teachers so they will also get on board and encourage the children to read. Before what I reveal what 'It' is I want to discuss the other reading programs I have been exposed to.
Premiers Reading Challenge : this Program was initiated by the NSW Premier some years back and given the support of many teachers and teacher librarians. A list of titles is created for each age group, and according to the different age group, the students read from 20 - 40 books from this list plus free choice books, and keep a log (online for the older ones). There is a cut off date, and all children who complete the challenge receive a certificate. All of the other Australian States have come up with their own lists - which are excellent for ideas on what to include in a school library collection by the way.
I like this program because it is not competitive, the certificate is a recognition of what the students achieved rather than an extrinsic reward, the lists include fiction and non fiction, there is a huge list of titles for students to choose from which is updated each year, most of the support work is done with regard to lists, logs etc., and, it caters for a wide range of students. If I was in Australia I would adopt this program into my school, however being an international school our collection is international and due to its limitations, we would not be able to offer a great selection of the books on the list, so we can't adopt any of the PRC's in their current form and I simply do not have the time to compile such expansive lists on my own based on our collection.
Last year we participated in the HK Battle of the Books. This is where a number of students read 20 books that have been selected by a BoB committee (made up of teachers and Librarians) and they are quizzed on the contents in a competition against other schools. We have a team of about 10 students from years 5-6 who are really keen to continue with the program next year, so we will continue, but I am not that fussed about it due to the competitive nature, it really only caters for the better readers, and the limited number of books the students read for the Battle. To do the battle well, you need about 3-5 copies of each title - so that is up to 80 titles that are sacrificed for BoB titles due to budget restraints - and considering the number of students who actually participate I do not feel justified doing this.
So what is my plan? "The Discovery College Fiction Fomentation" or something catchier.... The idea is similar to the PRC but not quite. The students will select a number of books according to their year levels based on a list of authors we already have in the library. They will keep a log of the books they read, and they can only read one title from each of the authors listed. There will be a long list of authors for year 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-9. It would go for term 1 only (January - April), each student who completes the challenge would receive an achievement certificate and house points, those who don't complete will still be awarded house points according to their efforts and a participation certificate. It will focus on fiction for this first year just to keep it simple.
I do think the students appreciate having some form of guidance as where they should start being challenged. They tend to use the requirements of the challenge as a scaffold to help them move forward in their reading. Otherwise they tend to stick with the same old, same old. For those who are not avid readers, this might be just the nudge they need to explore the options that await them.
What I hope to achieve through this challenge -
* By using authors instead of specific titles, the students will learn the names behind their favourite books,
* There is usually a variety of reading levels within each authors repetoire, so students should be able to choose something at their own level and still meet the "age guidelines" rather than having to look like dumbing down if they are not so proficient at reading.
* The students will be exposed to authors they may not have thought of trying
* After the challenge is over, they may be more brave in choosing different authors,
* After the challenge is over, they may want go back and try some more titles of the authors in the challenge.
* They will learn how to use the new LMS through having to look up the author they wish to try next,
* They will encourage their friends to read some of the titles they have read for the challenge.
* We will have as many children as possible participate in reading the titles of these authors throughout the school,
* The teachers will come on board and encourage participation, promoting the challenge for reading in quiet reading times.
I am still working on the plan of attack, the guidelines and the format for the log, but I will share when I complete it.
Meanwhile, here are some links to already established reading incentive programs that are worth examining to see if you could use some of the ideas. And, some articles on reading incentive schemes I have managed to find in this quest are at the bottom.
Readers Cup at St Josephs Hunters Hill - video
NSW Premiers Challenge
Victorian Premiers Challenge
South Australian Premiers Challenge
Queensland Premiers Challenge
WA Summer Reading Challenge
America's Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books
Read around Australia
Reading Programs at Birchwood School
Get caught Reading
Read across America
A Closer Look at Reading Incentive Programs
Read...for the Fun of It! A Compilation of Reading Incentive Programs.
This PDF file is 76 pages long, a bit dated (1987) but chock full of ideas that are simple and have been used with students already and proven to be useful in encouraging reading.
A search on Eric using "reading incentive" brought up quite a few hits of full text articles.
Sizzling Summer reading Programs for young adults Excerpts from a book found on Google Books - also worth doing a search using "reading incentive".
What have you done that has worked well? I do think some of the best programs are those that are home grown for the needs of YOUR students and library rather than relying on the commercial entities "one size fits all". Do share through the comments.