At the local library yesterday (yes, there are still a few left and we are going to make the most of ours for as long as we have it) I noticed a lot of initiatives aimed at gamifying reading for children. From stamps for borrowing books to medals for reading over the summer. I understand that whoever came up with these ideas wants to encourage kids to read, and of course that is a great aim. However there is a danger.
These initiatives are all about motivating kids to read by providing some external reward (stickers, medals, name on a poster). Focusing on an external motivation can undermine intrinsic motivation. The best reward for reading is the pleasure of a good story. The best way to encourage kids to read is to understand what they like, what interests them and help them find stories that they will enjoy. You might have to try a lot of different things. Your kids may love the same books you loved, but they may not. Think about what type of play they enjoy, which stories they like you to read or even what they want to watch on TV. Yes it’s more effort than making a sticker chart but this is how you inspire a love of reading that lasts for life, long after the appeal of sticker charts has worn off.
Oh and of course you don’t have to buy tons of different books while you are learning what your child enjoys. THAT is what libraries are for.