When I was a kid, I participated in my local library’s summer reading program. Starting in June, I would fill out reading logs, each of which had room to list five books. Then I would read. For every completed log that I turned in, I earned “Book Bucks” that I could redeem for various prizes at the library. (I ended up eating a lot of free ice cream that way.) But, the pleasure of books notwithstanding, receiving food isn’t the only thing that inspires kids to read.
I found an article about one school that is experimenting with new ways to show kids how incredible books can be. The Britt David Magnet Academy in Columbus, Georgia recently celebrated the fact that its kindergarteners read a combined 1,000,000 words this school year by throwing them a “Millionaire Bash”. Like in my old summer reading program, the kids submitted logs of the books that they read throughout the year. Then last week they finally had the chance to enjoy meeting their goal.
They arrived to the Millionaire Bash in a shared limousine, wore their snazziest outfits, had the chance to walk a red carpet, and were cheered on by friends and family. (You can check out some of the adorable pictures of the event that Maurice Burton, a relative of one of the students, shared on his Twitter.)
Of course not all schools can afford to put on a party like this one, but it is still extraordinary to see how parents and teachers celebrate when young students read. Those early years of reading are extremely formative – a student who is behind in reading at the end of third grade will likely be behind in eighth grade as well – which makes programs like this one all the more important.
Maybe in addition to completing my own reading goals, I can think about the ways that I can support young readers in learning to love books as well. After all, as much as I would like for people to become spontaneous readers, sometimes kids need a little extra support. Why not do what we can to give it to them?