Should we provide rewards if parents read 1000 books aloud to their children ("Vivacious vocabulary," Jan. 2014)?
Read-alouds are very pleasant for both parents and children. The vast majority of children say that they enjoy being read to: 97% in Walker and Kuerbitz (1979), 95% in
Mason and Blanton (1971), and parents agree: Eighy-nine percent of mothers interviewed in Newson and Newson (cited in Wells, 1985) said their children liked to be read to.
Giving certificates, getting one's picture in the local newspaper, and other incentives could send the message that reading and hearing stories is not pleasant and that nobody would do it without a bribe. This could reduce the amount of reading aloud when the rewards are withdrawn (for research, see Kohn, 1999).
But I agree with author Lisa Kropp that we need to encourage reading aloud. The first step is to make sure families have books. The second is to make sure parents and other caretakers understand the benefits of read-alouds.
Kohn, A. (1999). Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, and Other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Mason, G., and W. Blanton. (1971). Story content for beginning reading instruction. Elementary English, 48, 793-796.
Walker, G., and I. Kuerbitz. (1979). Reading to preschoolers as an aid to successful beginning reading. Reading Improvement 16: 149-154.
Wells, G. (1985). Language Development in the Pre-School Years. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Original article: http://www.slj.com/2014/01/standards/early-learning/vivacious-vocabulary-turning-little-ones-into-strong-readers-first-steps/