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The Bookworm is now open

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It’s saturday morning at our house and the children are busy.

“Mookie, get the abacus,” Jellybean calls across the house.

I’ve already got it.  Shh, I’m adding my minutes.”

How many do you have?”

Shh, I don’t know yet.  When’s browsing time?”

Daddy says it’s in ten minutes.  Are you adding The Boy’s too?”

He has two hours, which means a dollar and 20 cents, but maybe he has some more in his envelope.”

I wonder if they’re going to raise the prices this week,” wonders Jellyfish while she waits for the abacus.

I read 7 hours this week which means I have  four dollars and twenty cents.  If I read a little longer after browsing time, I can get two chapter books.

Okay, give me the abacus, please, so I can do mine.”

A few minutes later The Bookworm bookstore, conveniently located in the family schoolroom, is open for browsing.

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Mookie, Jellyfish, and The Boy practically hop into the room, anxious to see what new books have arrived.  A few minutes of studied silence, broken by a squeal or two and finally a shout.

“I’m getting this one!” they yell at the same time, though thankfully each holding a different book.

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Mr. Darcy announces the end of browsing time,”Okay, figure out how much more time you need to read this afternoon before the bookstore opens for business. Browsing time is over.”

After chores they  happily head off to read away the minutes they need to have enough money to buy their new books. Well, the 4 year old doesn’t actually do that, since his reading time is led by mom and dad.  Really, he gets out some cars.

A few hours later 3 contented children leave The Bookworm, looking forward to the week ahead, brand new books in hand.

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This is a little peek into Saturdays at our house this summer.  Last year we started an incentive to build upon the library’s summer reading program, and this year we’ve tweaked it to a rousing success.

Here’s a summary:

What: Our family summer reading program

When: throughout the summer months off from school

Who: our three older children (though Mr. Darcy and I wish someone would do this for us)

Why: This is our family’s answer to the question “How do we keep our kids engaged in reading and learning even during our time off school.”  Last year we did a similiar incentive except that they earned real money and we took them to Borders Books at the end of the summer.  Though full of excitement, this part of the incentive was miserable for all of us. After an hour of searching through huge bookshelves, they didn’t know what book they wanted and we had to say no to a lot of choices for either poor quality or poor content.  This summer we know they are choosing great books and the selection is displayed in a much easier format for them.

How: Each week the children record how many minutes they’ve read per day. At the end of the week they add up their minutes and for every minute they earn one Bookworm penny (play money). After browsing time, they can decide if they want to read a little more during the day to make sure they have enough for the desired books. Later in the afternoon they make their purchases and save any leftover change for next week’s store. Minutes start again at zero after the afternoon bookstore.

Where: We purchased a large number of chapter books, smaller chapter books, readers, and picture books and set them out for display in the schoolroom.

From my point of view this is a win-win situation. The children read willingly, their skills improve, they are rewarded with books (not candy or movies). They read those books, their skills grow further, and in turn they get more books. A pretty terrific cycle. And if it wouldn’t take us to the poorhouse, we’d continue the bookstore through the school year.

Note: The summer bookstore has also worked their math skills: figuring out the amount of minutes each day, adding the minutes for the week, and converting the minutes into dollars and cents.

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3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Allison July 26th, 2009 8:02 pm

    I love this!! Great idea!

  2. Shannon July 27th, 2009 10:00 am

    Fun idea and funny I should read this right now. A and I are just about to clean out her room, which includes the overflowing bookcase. I was planning to let her take them to McKay to sell. Would you want to browse through them first and buy some? We’d probably both come out ahead – less $$ for you and more for A. Let me know…

  3. Amy July 29th, 2009 9:43 pm

    great idea aimee. you are so creative. i love it!

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