Summer Reading Program: Incentives and List

interesting book

Our family loves to read, but one thing that is lacking in our reading repertoire is a good dose of classic literature. Do you have the same problem? Every summer I have instituted some sort of reading program.  My boys have always loved this, and would often be lost for hours in a grand adventure or thrilling mystery.

To encourage summer reading in your house, set up a cute book nook area for your kids with a basket chock full of some of the books on their list. How about a gift card to your favorite book shop to help them kick things off? Set up comfy spots in every room with oversized pillows or inexpensive backrests. No reading program is complete without incentives! Here’s some that have worked for me:


1. Money. I paid a penny for each page read, and after they turned in a brief (one page/100 word) book report they could collect their earnings. Throw in a buck if they list and define ten to twenty unfamiliar words from the book.

Kids at beach

2. Privileges. Short on cash? Give something else that will boost their reading enthusiasm: stay up late, have a sleepover with friends, have a day off, earn more screen time…

chocolate ice cream









3. Treats. Movie night with popcorn, mini-golf, favorite dinner, home spa or make-over for girls. Foot massage machine was unbelievably popular. I wonder if we still have that in the basement?  Individualized coupons, date night with daddy or mom, afternoon tea, no chore day…so many options.

thousand dollar picture

4. Praise.  Never cease to tell your children how proud you are of what they have accomplished.  Enthusiastically cheer them on.  Leave them little notes of encouragement.  This will motivate them way more than any other incentive, I guarantee it.


Reading list for advanced readers (12+)


Hamlet Shakespeare*,
Romeo and Juliet
Count of Monte Cristo*
Tales of Mystery and Imagination
Across Five Aprils
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
Treasure Island
The Hound of the Baskervilles
A Boy’s War 
Calico Captive
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl*
Number the Stars
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips
The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day
How Green Was My Valley*
In His Steps
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1)
The Two Towers (LOTR Book 2) 
The Return of the King (LOTR Book 3) 
The Miracle Worker
The Moonstone*
An American Plague J
Lincoln: A Photo-biography
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Onion John
The Last of the Mohicans*(or other selections) 
Gulliver’s Travels* Swift, Jonathon (314 pages)
And Then There Were None
Watership Down*
Profiles in Courage*
Hunchback of Notre-Dame* Hugo, Victor 
Les Misérables*
The Once and Future King*
To Kill a Mockingbird*
King Solomon’s Mines*
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles)
Old Yeller
Gentle Ben 

gary mockingbird

If they read an hour or more a day, I estimate they will accumulate about $100 each. But whatever the pay off, they will be prepping themselves for higher learning, and gain a priceless addition to their education.

Happy Reading, and I welcome your comments and additional titles or incentive suggestions. ~Kathy


2 Replies to “Summer Reading Program: Incentives and List”

  1. Those are some great books. And a great reading program! My mom would let us earn rides at amusement parks for the number of books we read. I only have a newborn, but I’m excited to do these kinds of things when she is older.

  2. The guys just might use some of the money they earn at the amusement park! (I’m encouraging them to save too.) We finished week one, and between the three of them, they earned just under $10. Not a bad start!

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