True story: Friend’s young daughters were being introduced to their first library cards this summer. Upon entering what could have been a very intimidating institution, they encountered a reading promotion (Oh horrors. Marketing to such innocents.)
“For every 10 books you read this summer, get a chance to Win an iPad! Another chance for every 10 books.” (Or as it was so clearly and succinctly explained to me, “First, you’ve got to read 10 books. Then you get a ticket in the bowl. Every time you read 10 more, you get more tickets. But just because your ticket is on the bowl, it doesn’t mean you GET the iPad. It’s only a chance to get it cause other people have tickets in the bowl. BUT if I keep reading, I am gonna have the most tickets in the bowl and I’m gonna get the iPad.” — Anna D.)
According to mom, kids have been happily occupied reading books all summer! (At latest count, older sis, Anna, is up to 70 and counting and younger sis, Lila, is easily over her minimum threshold of 10)
Talk about human nature at play. Sure they were excited to get their “reading cards.” But it became that much more motivating when there was a prize at the end. And the quest for that prize has kept the motivation going… EVEN after understanding that everyone who read the 10 books didn’t get an iPad.
Remains to be seen: Will the behavior continue when the “carrot” is gone? (or will Mom have to keep “incenting” the action?) Will the adult “I could never win” disenchantment begin to set in at only 6, or will they stay “believers” in the prize at the end for longer? The never-ending promotional quandary showcased in ones so “unjaded.”
I am curious to follow this and see what happens. And I hope one of them does win the iPad. But how exciting would it be if they were rewarded anyway, just for being so into reading! Hmmmm. Uh oh. Mom, does AK have to buy iPads now instead of jellybeans?