Punch Card Update

Okay, so after a few hours of brainstorming different ways to make the reading challenge program enticing but easy on my substitute librarian wallet, I realized that I’ve already done this before!  Last year, during my internship at a local middle school, I helped the media specialists there put on their March is Reading Month “Reading Madness” program, where students earn prizes based on the number of minutes they’d read or the number of times they voted in the school-wide Battle of the Books (they had to have read the books in order to vote). The media specialists used a small amount of money out of their book fair earnings to get giveaways like Scholastic bookmarks, pencils, eraser puzzles, etc., but most of the prizes used to encourage students were donated by the PTA and community partners like restaurants, ice cream shops, bowling alleys, and arcades.  It took a lot of leg work — figuring out which businesses would be receptive to our calls, playing phone tag numerous times before speaking to the right person, driving out to businesses to get the prizes, writing out the guidelines to how students earn prizes (we handed out smaller prizes for any students who turned in a certain number of minutes in a given week, and a weekly drawing for bigger prizes using raffle tickets students had earned for other activities), and finally, communicating the program details to the staff and students.

Like I said, it takes a little more planning, but the good news is I don’t have to launch the program right away.  I might wait ’til March is Reading Month, but if I get everything lined up I might announce it in February, to give students time to get started!




Reading Challenge Punch Card

Reading challenges for the new year have popped up everywhere on social media.  I thought I’d do something similar for the 3rd through 5th graders at the elementary school where I am working as a long term guest librarian (um, I meant “information literacy specialist”).  I thought a fun way for the kids to keep track of their readings is with a punch card (see below).  It also serves as a reminder of the different genres they need to cover.


This challenge is optional, but I want to encourage kids to take part in it.  When I asked a few students what might motivate them, of course most of them said they wanted prizes…but not dud ones like bookmarks or erasers (one said because that’d be a “waste of time”…which, I admit, broke my heart a little, because reading certainly shouldn’t be considered a “waste of time” just because there’s no extrinsic reward attached to it!).  Since as the guest ILS I actually have no budget for this, I am unsure how I’ll proceed.  I don’t mind putting in a little of my own money so the finishers can get a prize, but I can’t afford to give out that many “good” prizes either (again, seeing that I’m “just the sub”!).  This challenge will also have to be completed on an honors basis…I can see some kids SAYING they’d read something just so they can get their cards punched.  One possible way to prevent this from happening could be to have students fill out a short book review or make a book trailer for each of the book before I punch their card, but then I wonder if this would discourage them from doing it.  So, back to the drawing board for now.  I told the kids I’ll figure the details out by some time next week, so if you have run something similar at your library and it was a success, let me know how you got it done!  Remember, I’m at a school library and I have ZERO budget!