How do you get kids these days to read more books? Like a real substantial amount of books? Want to know how I got my homeschool kids to start reading more? By more, I mean lots more. Check out the homeschool reading challenge.
It is a well-studied subject that those kids who read more are typically more successful not only in other subjects in school but also in life.
It is also a very common fact that most kids (these days) will more likely read when they have to. Then use their free time for other things like video games, watching tv, and other less educational things.
My kids were no different. They read when required but no more. I wanted to find a way to make reading an activity they did for pleasure and not just because “mom said so“.
So last year we started on a homeschool reading challenge to see how many books they could each read in a full calendar year.
My oldest two each set a goal of how many books they wanted to read in a year. The 9-year-old (my oldest daughter) set a goal of 40 books, my 12-year-old son set a goal of “just more than his sister” for the 2020 reading challenge.
So it is clear that there was a competitive side to this from the start, but to amp that up we offered them a $50 gift card to a cool little oddities store they had heard about but never seen and had very much so wanted to go to.
So the challenge was set, the fierce sibling competitiveness was clearly established, and we started with a bang.
Homeschool Reading Challenge
After the challenge was set and the goals established they were both off to the races with this one. Every time one was reading and the other one noticed they would also start to read.
Then soon they thought they could have an advantage over the other one if they read secretly in their room, so soon they were sneaking off to read (hey if sneaking to read is the worst sneaking they do then this mom is happy).
Soon after the sneaking started so did the watching for the other sibling like a hawk. If my son would ask “Where is Aspen”, and if I replied, “I don’t know I haven’t seen her in a little while”. He would run up the stairs taking 3 at a time, and I’d hear “I caught you”.
This routine became more comical from a parent’s perspective. However, it did not stop there.
As summer approached they both decided to start using their sleeping habits against each other. My son, who is a night owl, and finds it hard to go to sleep would stay up late reading, thinking he was pulling one over on his sleeping sister. All while my daughter knew she naturally wakes up before her brother, would set an alarm to wake her up way early just to read
So by the half-way mark in the year my daughter had read her year-long goal of 40 books only days after her 10th birthday. While her brother was only slightly behind her.
Reading Challenge Tips
To keep this challenge going I knew I would have to keep them in good books. The library seemed like an obvious answer that was until “the 2020 virus” shut down the world and our little library with it.
Where to finds lots of books
- local libraries
- free book drop off boxes or trades (usually nears parks)
- second-hand stores
I personally use Thrift Books a lot. Great books for just a few dollars are easy to find, and you earn points that get you free books overtime. This is especially a great way to collect all those classic books.
The proper motivation is the best way to get that over the top drive that really helps set this challenge in motion. That motivation will work differently for everyone. So find great ways that motivate your kids.
A $50 gift certificate to an oddity store in Oklahoma was a driving force for my kids, but that may not work for you. Maybe its a new bike, a trip to a fancy restaurant, a favorite field trip or even a giant chocolate bar (thats our 2021 challenge).
The point is find a unique way to light your challenge on fire.
As our challenge continued there were ups and downs in the year. The oldest fell somewhat behind (his sister) while he went to his dad’s for summer visitation.
However, in the end, my daughter ended the year with 70 books read which was 30 more than her goal and about 8 times what she read the year before. And my son ended the year with 57 books which was somewhere like 5 times what he read the year before.
Since both kids went so over and above on their reading they were both surprised and were rewarded with a gift card in their own amount of books read.
As a parent, my pleasure has been seeing how much they have actually bloomed in their reading and how much they actually really enjoy it now. They don’t just read because ‘mom said so’. The extra bonus, my oldest is now spending his spare time writing his own book. Maybe I’ll have a budding young writer on my hands.
Reading is important because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. —Tomie dePaola
My kids like most would read when they were told to, but never more. This homeschool reading challenge was how I took them from average readers to extreme readers in just one year. If reading is the basis of learning then reading can pave the road to anywhere they want to go ♡♡♡
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Beth is a mother of 5 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.