Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Motivating children to read will take a different tack in some Davis County schools this year.
When the state contract expired with the long-standing Accelerated Reading (AR) program and was not renewed this year, more schools started looking for new ways to encourage their students to embrace books.
For Lois Green, media specialist at Syracuse Junior High, the switch happened last year. She said the change has been good.
“To be quite honest ... I checked out way more books the year we did away with it because the kids don’t like to be told what books to choose.”
In the AR program, students could select books from a list and, after reading them, answer questions to prove they had read and understood what they’d read.
When they passed the tests, they earned points.
At elementary schools, classes in which students had collectively built up points earned a reward such as a pizza party or a field trip, according to Belinda Kuck, assistant director of curriculum and instruction for Davis School District.
At the junior high level, points earned figured toward a final grade.
“We’re an advocate of reading as the reward,” said Kuck. “Research indicates that if the reward for reading is anything that’s not related to reading, motivation actually decreases.”
Reading for information is important and can help students be successful in school, but reading for pleasure or escape also has value, she said.
“It’s a different world we live in,” said Kuck. “Kids have lots and lots of distractions ... Where for some of us, reading was our activity of choice for pleasure, there are lots of other things our kids have as a choice for pleasure, and unfortunately for a lot of our kids independent reading is a checkmark. It’s a chore.”
Kathy Bundy, media specialist at Foxboro Elementary in North Salt Lake, thinks an interest in reading can start at home.
“They learn by example and if they are seeing reading at home, they will read,” said Bundy. “It’s an important time of family time and life – it has to become a habit.”
Parents can read with their children, look for answers in books, and help motivate them to read, she said.
“Reading shouldn’t be a chore,” said Kuck, “Reading should be something we love to do. Reading is in itself a reward.”