A New Web 2.0 Reading Incentive Program Gets Kids Reading In A Fun And Safe Online Community

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Reading Rewards, a new kids’ reading incentive program, is now available! This fun, safe and free website has many exciting features. By tracking their progress regularly, children earn points they can use to ‘buy’ fun rewards and play with their friends. Teacher tools include shared, online reading logs and targets, which are great reading incentives in the classroom.

Rewarding Reading

We just needed that little extra motivation to get the ball rolling, and turning their TV time into a reward was the key. Once they made reading a regular part of their routine, and found books they liked, the incentives, really, were no longer necessary.

Twelve months ago, Montreal mom Michelle Skamene was unhappy about the fact that her two boys, then aged 8 and 9, spent very little time reading. Video games and computers were too much competition for their books. She and her husband, Emmanuel Greciet, decided to put a system in place whereby their kids had to earn TV or game console time by reading: 1 minute TV time for every minute of reading. An IT consultant working in field of website design, Mrs. Skamene set up a program for them to log their reading and TV time to help everyone keep track.

When friends asked if they could use it for their own children, Mrs. Skamene expanded the website to allow parents to set up their own rewards for their kids, and included a number of mini-games and features that the children could activate by reading and reading alone. The kids loved it, and it worked! They are no longer the reluctant readers they once were. “The thing is to get them started. We just needed that little extra motivation to get the ball rolling, and turning their TV time into a reward was the key. Once they made reading a regular part of their routine, and found books they liked, the incentives, really, were no longer necessary.” says Mrs. Skamene, who also created a page to help kids choose the right books.

The basic concept is simple. Children log on to the site, and add information about their reading (what, when and how long for). An interface with Amazon.com’s databases makes this easy. Email notifications get sent to their parents, who must validate the entries via a simple click. This allows the children to earn points (“RR Miles”), which they can redeem for fun and sometimes-silly things on the site. Children also connect to their friends, thus being able to share valuable information about their reading. When they read, they can also play mini-games together in a Fun and Games section. All of this actually makes reading ‘cool’, and has been a great reading incentive in pilot groups so far. Access to the site had been restricted, but it is now finally open to the public.

Teachers can also join and set up groups, targets and rewards for their classes. When kids join the group, they all share centralized book lists, book reviews and reading logs. A great reading incentive in the classroom.

The result? A fun, safe, and free social network for kids built around reading and encouraging reading that also features tools for teachers and librarians. A Montreal-based site, it is available in both English and French.

Additional information can be found by visiting Reading Rewards at http://www.reading-rewards.com (or http://www.ptits-bouquineurs.com in French)

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Michelle Skamene
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