Intrinsic Gimmicks by Brett Vogelsinger

Great post on group strategies for getting children to read (useful to teachers with a classroom of reluctant readers). The pizza challenge sounds similar to the Friends of Antigua Public Library’s annual summer programme with the public library where the participating kids are rewarded with a pizza party among other gifts. Last summer, the Cushion Club tried a reading Challenge. It didn’t take as well as we’d hoped after carefully putting together our reading list…maybe we’ll try it again… is there a local pizza joint that wants to partner with us?

Speaking of the Cushion Club, I visited for the first time in a long time and I have to again take my hat off to our chief volunteer (the patience of Job that one), but more and regular volunteers would help. He’d be able to break the kids up in to groups like we used to when I was a regular volunteer (instead of more of a there-in-spirit volunteer), for one, making less kids for one person to corral, so that the kids can be more focused and the reading activity more effective.

And it’s worth it because, seriously, a kid who’s never cracked a book for fun doesn’t know what he/she is missing. You can help correct that.

Interested in supporting the volunteerism of the Cushion Club, email

And teachers and others involved in encouraging children to read, check out the link. Good tips. Like the one about sneaky reading… which is largely what I do these days.

Nerdy Book Club

I’ll be honest: as a kid, pizza had a strange power over my mind. So when my elementary school participated in a reading incentive program that earned me little star stickers on a badge and those badges led to pizza, let me tell you, I could read like the wind, blasting through books in a way that made my teachers proud and my belly full of personal pan pizzas.  

The problem is that extrinsic motivators for reading are no more than shallow gimmicks. In my own experience, when the pizza stopped, so did the reading. OK, maybe that’s not entirely fair.  It’s not like I went on a reading strike, demanding more pizza.  It is just that the program didn’t extend into middle school, and I hit those vulnerable years when everything changes and the workload increases and reading habits falter.  Mine did.  I nearly stopped.

So now, as…

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