Reading: For What It’s Worth


Is there anything wrong with paying kids to read books?

Well, for one thing, the cost.

In an effort to tempt Miss7 away from Archie comics and ‘Spot What’ type books, and towards something with chapters, we’ve recently introduced a reward system. Naturally, we’ve had to include all the school age kids to make it fair – which Master9 and Miss10 are seeing as a real boon. We figure a couple of months and the habit will be ingrained enough for us to drop the incentive scheme.

And it’s working: Miss7 has earnt $12 this week alone. They’re only small books she’s reading, but we’ll insist on something more substantial in another week.

Still, it’s never enough, is it?

“I have an idea,” Miss7 told myself and Tracey yesterday. “How about instead of $2, you pay me what the book costs?”

She’d noticed the price in the books was originally $3.25 to $3.50 and she has her eyes on the entire sweet counter of the local store.

Even at $2 a book, not everyone is happy with how much money Miss7 has made.

“It’s not fair,” said Master9, taking this opportunity to throw in his two bits about the inequities of the current system. “She’s reading books with big typing and hardly any pages and I’m reading Harry Potter! I should get more money per book too.”

“We’re not paying any extra,” I told him. “And the solution is easy.” I tossed him the book Miss7 had just finished. “You just have to read a couple of the Baby Sitters Little Sister series like your sister.”

If the book had been made of cow patties and bound with hardened snot he wouldn’t have handled it with any more disgust than he managed at that moment. He tossed it back to me with contempt, which, given the conversation, I took to mean I wouldn’t read that if you paid me. As I’d suspected.

So I turned my attention back to the little entrepreneur with the big, expensive dreams. But Tracey was already onto it.

“Okay,” said Tracey.

“What?” I blanched.

But I should have known better. Tracey then took the $2 coin back off Miss7 and handed Miss7 a fifty cent piece instead.

An eyebrow shot up Miss7’s forehead and hovered there.

“What’s. This?” she wanted to know.

“That’s how much we paid for the book,” said Tracey. “We bought it at a garage sale.”

“And those last two books you read,” I added, “we borrowed from the library, so you owe us $4.”

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone that she said she was happy to continue with our current arrangement, and bounded off to grab another couple of books from the series to read in bed.

Meanwhile, once the conversation has a chance to sink in, we’re dreading Master9 will attempt to reopen negotiations. We paid full price for his book.

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“Raising a family on little more than laughs”

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