Incentives for Reading

The statistics below paint a graphic picture of the importance of literacy.

Two thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of 4th grade end up in jail or on welfare…and 37% of fourth graders cannot read at the basic level.

Statistics from: Begin to Read Literacy Statistics & Pennsylvania Department of Education. Read more on this Pivot Point at the Huffington Post.

Why reading 20 minutes a day is important

Students who read 20 minutes a day from Kindergarten through 6th grade score in the 90th percentile on tests, as the graphic below from edudemic illustrates.

Basically, reading makes you a Smartie!

There are many more benefits of reading too: It’s good for your brain, reduces stress, income is higher, and you even live longer. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry Truman. “5 ways reading makes you a better leader” at

The value of incentives and rewards for reading (or anything) can be debated. However, providing feedback on progress and explaining why reading is important can be beneficial. Here are some ideas for a simple incentive program to encourage reading and playing phonics games to increase literacy skills.

DOWNLOAD Bookmarks

READ bookmarks: each day that you read 20 minutes, color or punch a star on the READ bookmark. 5 stars = 1 gold (chocolate or token) coin. 1 full bookmark (4 gold coins – 20 days of 20 minutes of reading) = 1 book buck.

PLAY bookmarks to earn Extra Credit: Each day that you play a phonics game, color or punch a star on the PLAY bookmark. 1 full bookmark (20 stars/20 days) = 1 gold (chocolate or token) coin.

Please note that many online phonics games require Flash and may not work well on some tablets and smartphones. It can be helpful to download the Puffin browser. Free online phonics games are collected in one place here at Symbaloo.

Bookbucks from

A bulletin board like this one with student names and how many bookbucks have been earned might encourage more reading too. Another option is a thermometer chart to track class progress posting the total number of minutes read within a time period. Set a goal and have a class party when it is reached.

How about modifying this idea from Crayons & Cuties in Kindergarten to celebrate learning 100 sight words?

Candy Rewards that Teach!


Post a list of prizes and how many Book Bucks they cost. Here are some ideas for prizes:

  • Non-candy: READ Pencils, READ bracelets, Notepads, Magnetic bookmarks, Alphabetimals coloring book, Target bargains like these Dr. Seuss bags, Library card socks…more ideas are at my Library & Books Pinterest Board.
  • Super Reader – anything with a Superman theme: can coosies, socks, etc.
  • Books: Feed Me Words, books by Brian P Cleary, or any you choose.
  • Literacy Games for about $15: Boggle Jr, Word Spin, Bananagrams

The statistics show that improved literacy skills lead to a better life. Learn more about how to create a phonics kit for teaching reading.


I enjoy finding great information, combining it in new ways, and packaging it creatively. I'm highly interested in the areas of goal setting, time management, and skills to improve life.

Posted in phonics

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