15-min. ideas, Crafts, Reading theory

Motivate with a reading reward chart

Kids love rewards.

If you’re having a tough time getting your child to read, try a reading reward chart.

Make a graph with a week’s worth of days. Your child puts a sticker on each day you read together. (Fifteen to 30 minutes is ideal.) Or, your chart can be for when your child reads alone, or when she reads a specific book for 15 minutes at a time, or for 15 minutes’ worth of writing – whatever you’re working on.

Some kids are motivated by the stickers, alone. Others need a reward – for every week that has four or more stickers, the child gets a small toy. It’s important to choose and, I think, buy the reward first.

The child will be more motivated when she knows what she’s playing for. (May I suggest – a book?) Put the reward on a shelf so she can see it, but not use it, until it’s been earned.

And of course, adjust the reward so it fits your child. The length of the reading sessions and the number needed for the reward should be whatever will work for your child. Using fun stickers often helps.

Encourage her to tell her grandparents, friends, teachers and everyone you can think of, that she’s doing a reading chart. Research shows that people are more likely to succeed when others know about their project.

Don’t go dollar-store on this one. The toys are too cheap and break too easily. Think Silly Putty, a bakugan, hockey cards, doll accessory or comic book. Ironically, dollar stores do have really good books like Caillou or maze/activity books. Pick up a handful and put ’em in your sock drawer until they’re earned.


  1. I’ve been meaning to create a unique reading rewards system in my special ed class but haven’t had the brainpower to come up with one yet…

    this is giving me some good ideas. i like the images. the calendar. the clear reward at the end.

    i’m all for intrinsic learning but even adults like and deserve concrete rewards now and then!

  2. Oh yes, I do love rewards myself.

    If you’re working with a class, how about taping three or four Hershey’s Kisses to each square? Instead of a sticker, they get to take one chocolate.

    Remind the kids how easily they can earn a reward right away – just by grabbing a book and reading for a few minutes!

    If you’d rather not use a food reward, you can always try the “jar of marbles.” Each time someone reads a book, they get to put a marble in a special jar (you make a bit of a ceremony out of the marble-putting). Once the marbles reach a certain line on the jar, the class gets a party!

    That also encourages them to work together to accomplish a common goal.

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