28 Reading Incentives That Really Work

A little motivation helps!

Keep your students motivated to hit their weekly and monthly reading goals by offering a little motivation or reward. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

1. Hand out bookmarks. Bookmarks reinforce a love for reading and you can find lots of free templates on Pinterest.
SOURCE: Dawn Nicole Designs

2. Make time for game time. Save 15 or 20 minutes every week for your students to have game time in the classroom. Bring in new board games each week, and anyone who meets their reading goal for the week gets to play.

3. Have a popcorn party. Cheap, healthy, and delicious. Need we say more?
Pop Open a Good Book | 25 Reading Incentives That Really Work
SOURCE: Pinterest

4. Listen to audiobooks. Have your students vote on the audiobook they want, and when they hit their reading goal, let them have time to listen to it every day.
SOURCE: Moore Fun in First Grade


5. Allow chewing gum for a day. Gum is usually off limits in the classroom, so it’s an especially appealing reward for kids.
Reading Gumballs | 25 Reading Incentives That Really Work
SOURCE: One Ordinary Day

6. Hike outside.
 Stretching your legs is a wonderful counterpart to time spent reading. Celebrate a reading milestone by taking a walk around your school building or neighborhood.


7. Create a classroom lending library. This is an excellent way to reward reading with more reading. Ask students, parenting, and friends for book donations appropriate for your grade level. Once students reach certain reading goals, they can go to the lending library (or the “readbox” in this genius example) to choose another book.

SOURCE: Marci Coombs

8. Make smoothies. A make your own smoothie bar is a healthy, delicious way to celebrate meeting a reading milestone!smoothies


9. Put together a classroom treasure chest. Stickers, tattoos, and pencils are always popular treasure choice filler. You can ask parents for donations, too.

SOURCE: Surfing to Success

10. Watch book trailers on YouTube. When kids finish a book, invite them to browse YouTube book trailers to look for their next read.
Book Trailers | 28 Reading Incentives That Really Work

11. Offer homework passes. Try giving kids a day off of homework when they meet a reading goal. More time for reading!
SOURCE: Brain Waves Instruction

12. Start a new read-aloud book. Let your class vote on your next read-aloud as a reward for their progress.

13. Give your class tickets. A lot of teachers use a class store as a behavior management system, but you can also use it for reading. Give students tickets for books that they read, and then they can cash them in for prizes (such as inexpensive Book Fair titles).


14. Have lunch with the teacher. You can do this as an individual award for a really big goal or you could also do it as a small group award. Let students eat lunch in the classroom with you, or join them at their table in the lunchroom.


15. Have lunch with a friend. Once students meet a certain goal, designate a day where they can invite a family member or friend to join them for lunch.

16. Create a data wall. Data walls can be controversial, but for some students public recognition is the ticket. We also like data walls that focus on progress of the overall group, rather than individual students, like the Fluency Graph below.
Our Fluency Graph
SOURCE: Teaching With Simplicity

17. Listen to an online read aloud. The websites Storyline Online and Just Books Read Aloud offer tons of wonderful picture books read aloud—a great reward for meeting a reading goal.

18. Have special show and tell time. Use this as a reading incentive for all your students. Once they reach a personal goal, they can bring something in from home and tell their classmates about it.

19. Watch a movie based on a book. Choose a book that has been made into a movie, and then once your students read it (or you read it as a class), you can all watch the movie version together.

20. Declare it pajama day. A movie is great, but if you combine it with pajama day, that makes it even better.

21. Give them extra gym time. Again, physical activity is a great counterpart to reading.

22. Make custom book bags. Your students will love creating their own customized book bag. You can find many ideas out there on Pinterest, but one of our favorites is the chalkboard paint bag.


SOURCE: No Time for Flash Cards

23. Create a book buddy bin. Reading is always more fun when you have a buddy to share it with, especially when they are soft and cuddly.
SOURCE: First Grade Blue Skies

24. Throw a dance party. Okay, not everyone has to dance, but kids will love putting together a playlist to listen to for the afternoon. Make it a group activity where students nominate songs, and then everyone votes. They can listen to them while working on homework at the end of the day.

25. Make root beer floats. Have a root beer float party in honor of your readers, and then invite them to do some related how-to writing!
Root Beer Floats | 25 Reading Incentives That Really Work
SOURCE: Journey To Josie

26. Have class outside. As the weather starts to warm up, offer to do your next reading lesson outside if students meet their reading goals.



27. Do apple tasting in the classroom. Buy several different apple varieties, and let your students have a healthy snack while also voting for their favorites.
Apple Taste Test | 25 Reading Incentives That Really WorkSOURCE: Inner Child Fun

28. Offer to dress up. Now this one should be the top award. Set a really high goal, and if your students meet it, offer to do dress up however they choose. Maybe you have to dress like a banana for the day. Or perhaps they get to spray you with Silly String. Make it a good one!
SOURCE: I Want to Be a Super Teacher