The RBHS media center is challenging students to read a “latte” this February. For every book they check out from the library, students get their name added to a drawing to win a $5 gift card for the Grind Coffee House. The library staff will draw a name every week.
Media specialist Jill Varns and counselor Rachel Reed came across the idea on Facebook and thought it was neat. They reached out to the Grind and received a donation of four gift cards. The challenge started on Monday, Feb. 4 and is already a success.
“It’s trying to start people talking about [reading], so that people come in and check out what we have to offer,” Varns said. “A lot of people say that young people don’t read much anymore, well, we have a jar that proves that’s not the case.”
Junior Maddie Marrero is already an avid reader. As an AP student and varsity softball player, she uses reading as an escape from the stresses of school. She thinks the library’s efforts will help others discover a similar passion for reading.
“My whole life I’ve been obsessed with all sorts of different stories. I used to imagine myself in every book I read,” Marrero said. “I think it’s really cool how the library is doing the coffee drawing thing. A lot of people go to the library everyday, but never check out a book, so providing that extra incentive to read is really great.”
English teacher Nicole Clemens admits that the way in which educators teach reading in schools deters students from it. In her classes, she attempts to combat this by allowing time for reading during school.
“We have done a great job as educators destroying kids’ love of reading by things like testing after every chapter,” Clemens said. “I think that as an English teacher I have the ability and the job to say ‘hey, we are going to take time and we are going to read for 20 minutes because reading is important and building that habit is important. And for the love of God I need you to want to read something after high school.”
While there are plenty of students who are already library regulars, the goal for this program is to rope in more readers. On any given day, only about one percent of the student body comes in to check out a book. Clemens acknowledges that it is a little sad that students must be incentivized to read, but also sees the initiative as a “kick in the pants” for students and teachers alike to prioritize reading.
“I think anything that we can do to spur kids to read is important,” Clemens said. “I think that even just getting kids in the library and getting a book in their hand is an important first step. And for some kids, they’re not going to open that book, but getting that book in their hand is an important first step in creating a reader where there wasn’t one previously.”
What do you think? Is rewarding kids for reading a positive motivator or a bribe? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.