Using Reading Contests to Encourage Independent Reading

Using Reading Contests to Encourage Independent Reading

The more a child practices reading, the better they will become.  However, many children will not choose to read in their free time.  A reading contest is a great way to encourage them to read outside school!

What are Reading Contests?

Reading contests are fun competitions designed to encourage children to read on their own.  They track their individual reading activity for a certain length of time with the goal of winning a prize.

Ideas for Running a Successful Reading Contest

  • Choose a limited amount of time: A reading contest will be most useful when held for anywhere from two weeks to a month.  This allows the children plenty of time to read without allowing them to tire of the contest.
  • Explain the rules and the prizes on the first day:  Children will want to know exactly what they need to do to win the prize. They also will read more if they know exactly what they are working towards.
  • Make the prizes fun:  Make sure your prizes are things your children are interested in.  It could be candy, small toys, or even homework passes as long as they want what you are offering.  (It usually works best to offer small prizes to each child for meeting his individual goal.)
  • Decide on a goal for each child:  Each child should have a goal he is working towards during the contest.  The goal could be a reading a certain number of books or pages, or it could just be reading for a certain length of time each day.  Make sure the goal is a realistic one for each child.

Fun reading contest themes

One of the things the students enjoy most is seeing how many pages or books they have read be displayed.  Simply hang a starting image for each child.  The child will then add smaller pieces for each book that they read. (If you choose to have them read a number of pages or for a specific length of time, they would hang a small piece each day that they complete their reading.) Get children interested from the beginning by choosing a fun theme for your reading contest.  Here are some ideas that your child will love:

  • Fall: stacks of pumpkins, apples on apple trees, fall leaves on a bare tree,
  • Winter: Christmas lights on a fir tree, snowflakes on a window
  • Spring: flowers in a garden, bees on a beehive, raindrops under an umbrella
  • Anytime: clouds behind a rocketship, hats on a child’s head, bananas for a monkey

Reading contests are a fun way to encourage independent reading. How do you keep reading fun for your children?

Photo by GoodNCrazy

Elementary Reading Curriculum at Smart Tutor

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