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A Fun Reading Challenge Blackboard {Reader Idea}

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Maybe you’ve seen an idea on a blog or Pinterest, wanted to use it, but it just didn’t seem to work for your family. Step-by-step directions are always nice, but there are times when finding a way to adapt an idea will make it more appealing to you and your family.

{And adapting is okay!}

Recently, Vanessa shared an idea on Instagram that she had adapted from the reading challenge charts I had shared in years past. I asked her to share her entire project with you all in a guest post, so keep reading and see what she put together!



“Mommy, can I please read one more chapter before bed?” These were the words of my girls last week after starting our new 2014 Winter Reading Challenge. Isn’t that super exciting? I know for me it is! Since the winter of 2012, I have adapted the (seasonal) reading challenge with my kids. It has encouraged and driven them to read beyond my expectations.

reading challenge blackboard

One of my newest projects was a blackboard for our reading corner. I purchased a 2’ x 4’ blackboard (and a handful of nails) from Home Depot for $9.97, these liquid chalk markers from Amazon, and I was on my way to create an amazing corner for our schoolroom.  After my hubby drilled it into the wall, it was all ready for me and I couldn’t help but think of all the ideas I could do with our new blackboard.

After  a couple hours of thought and creative thinking, I came up with a sketch and made it a reality. My inspiration came from Jolanthe’s reading challenge, Pinterest, and my home state of New York which had a blizzard a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t snow here in Southeast Georgia… thank God!

Incentives for Reading


Once my kids complete their challenges, I reward them with something that will encourage them to come back for more. In the past the rewards were:

  • $10 towards a Target purchase
  • trips to Dunkin’ Donuts
  • sweets from a local bakery
  • frozen yogurt
  • my kids all time favorite, pizza from Pizza Hut

Every year I sign up for the Book It! Program through Pizza Hut, and they provide me with a booklets of free pizzas for the entire school year. As the teacher I make the decision on reading program and set the goals whether it be “x” amount of books or “x” amount of minutes in a month or season to redeem pizzas.

I’m already thinking forward and excited about summertime! I looooove summer reading! Usually I mix it up a bit and create fun reading challenges like reading under a tree, in your bathing suit, with a hat on, in the bathtub, on the kitchen floor… my kids love that kind of stuff!

You can view the original Reading Challenge Charts here. Thanks so much to Vanessa for sharing her idea with us all. Be sure to visit her on Instagram and get a peek at all their family’s homeschool fun!

imageMy name is Vanessa, and I am a homeschooling Mom to 4 amazing treasures ages 8, 7, 6 and 3. Homeschooling has been an adventure beyond words – especially since we have moved about 5 times in the last 2 years. I love the homeschooling community! I’m so grateful to all who contribute because even the slightest post whether on a blog or social media can encourage any family to press on towards the bright future ahead. My passion is to motivate and encourage others to fulfill their purpose in this calling -homeschooling.

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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  1. This totally made me want to have a blackboard in my school space! Sammy’s reading is taking off so I need to start setting goals for him as well!

  2. Krista Guerrero says

    I can see that the purpose here is to get kids excited about reading, but I totally disagree with giving kids rewards for doing so. Reading is the reward. Being able to be transported to different places and eras is the reward. Hearing beautifully crafted words is the reward. Getting swept away by a great story is the reward. Did I mention that reading is the reward?

    What happens when there is no reward? The system has proven to fall apart. This can lead to a whole other discussion about the system of rewards in general. I do not give my kids rewards for reading or for chores. My kids do not receive an allowance for being citizens of this family and helping it run smoothly. These are expectations for all family members.

    While I do appreciate things that get kids excited about reading, rewards that are completely unrelated are likely to fail. How about rewards such as getting a new book of their choice after reading a certain number of books? How about a trip to the bookstore or an outing to the library? How about watching a movie or going to see a play based on a book that they read? My concern is who will motivate them to read when they are older? Reading aloud is something we do every day in my home. We share great books together. Besides reading together, the kids are required to read on their own for 20 minutes a day. This is part of their school day that gets checked off upon completion. If I started to offer them rewards for reading they would think I went mad.

    We love reading! We keep a notebook with our favorite quotes from the books we are reading. The kids either copy these or are given them as a dictation. We mark our favorite lines from books and often quote them for fun. We get swept up in the stories we read and pretend to be the characters we read about. This is our reward. We go to the library and check out 50 books and come home and sit on the floor and read for an hour. This is what makes kids readers – not giving them food and other items that have no relation to what they are doing.

    I mean no disrespect whatsoever. I do hope that this might encourage some more solid ways to get kids to love reading. My kids are between the ages of 6 and 18 and they all LOVE to read. Perhaps what we have done might help others. God bless all you home schoolers. :)

    • Krista,

      While I understand what you are saying, I know that other families may be in different situations. We read daily in our home: at bedtimes, during the afternoon/evening as a family, and for school {x amount of chapters or a set time}. It is a regular occurrence. Our older two girls have a HUGE love for reading and if anything, they will read voraciously during challenges – and they are fabulous readers at other times as well. We also have a reluctant reader in our home. These challenges are not a year-round event, just a short time frame that motivates everyone and kick starts something bigger – time set aside for reading and a further enjoyment of reading.

      This past week we joined a reading challenge with our local library {and yes, they reward kids too}. In the time span of four days, our kids had logged in an unbelievable amount of reading time between paperback books and audiobooks. Our 9 year old {who doesn’t like to read independently}, checked out a stack of 10 books from the library, just to earn a silly pin, hat, and a book. He also has the chance to enter a Lego raffle {because we also like to build scenes from books with Legos}. It’s been great to see him realize he CAN read independently and want to spend time on his own with a book.

      Some kids may respond well to no incentives, but others may work harder and in the process realize how much they love reading or even realize that they are GOOD readers, despite the encouragement from their parents/teachers that they already are! That was the case with our second daughter {and hopefully our son}, and it was just a simple 2 week challenge that had it ‘click’ with her.

      And if it works for a family, well, it’s great that they can do it. Different families can choose different incentives that work for them, and that may involve special outings. In the past, our family has purchased books, had special dates with our kids to celebrate their reading accomplishments, and done a wide variety of things, including having silly little prizes on hand. Keep in mind that all families are different, so some may need to try different things to help them out.

      The bottom line is – get kids reading. We’ve always read to our children, but some families may not be in the same situation. I can honestly say that these short ‘challenges’ in our family have also seen our kids reading to each other, especially when a younger one can’t read independently. In a typical week they may do that here and there, but these last few days have seen them cuddling up together to help each other out – and THAT is something fabulous.

      As a child, I participated in reward programs with our library and am still a HUGE reader today, even though there are no incentives other than the pleasure of reading a fabulous book. Again, while it may not have worked for others, it was something fun and exciting for me and something I still remember. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts!

    • p.s. I also meant to add – their schooltime reading doesn’t count as a part of any challenge we work on together. Just reading that is above and beyond what is required. :)

    • Vanessa Anderson says

      I appreciate feedback and recognize that there is always room for improvement as I’m no perfect Mama. My kids love bookstores and we also make weekly trips to the library & take out 50 books at a time. Then, we come home to a readingfest. As Jolanthe said we are all so different and what might work for one family or even child doesn’t always necessarily work for another. You have some good ideas! Thanks!

    • Krista Guerrero says

      Vanessa and Jolanthe,

      I would like to tell you I am sorry for shooting down your idea about the reading challenge. I acted rashly and I am sorry. There are different methods for different people and I did not respond to you as a sister in Christ. Please forgive me. I have had a few days to think about my response and I wish I had written it differently.

      The point I was hoping to make is that rewards for getting kids to read should be related to reading such as earning more books or watching a movie of a book that was read and so forth. The fact is, too few kids are reading because they like it. We have a big job in front of us and different methods will inspire different people. Having our children interact with great literature and be excited about it is awesome. I wish you all the best in your journey to raise kids who love to read.

    • Krista,

      Thanks so much for your reply and apology. Truly girl – that speaks volumes. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment and hope that I {in turn} didn’t come across rashly to you either. :) Have a great day – and thanks again for reading and taking time to share your thoughts with us. That is much appreciated!


    • Krista Guerrero says


      I appreciate your response. I follow a few other homeschool blogs, and I can tell you are really a quality person. You have a beautiful heart. I can feel your sincerity. I emailed bloggers in the past, including you, about doing a review of one of our products, and you were the only one who took the time to reply. That meant a lot to me.

      So, I’m sorry I got worked up in my first comment. I do that sometimes. I just LOVE reading with all my heart and want others to love it that much as well.

      I just left the library and my 7 year old had three HUGE bags of picture books that she wanted to check out. A woman behind us commented on our stack and wanted to know who would read them all. She was shocked when I pointed to my daughter. She commented about how her daughter is not a good reader and doesn’t like to read. It was sad. The little girl was right there hearing her mom confirm that she is not a reader. I offered some suggestions of great books and the mom shook her head and said, “She won’t read them. I don’t know why she is even checking out these books.”

      I left feeling sad for that little girl. What a struggle she has ahead of her if even her mom doesn’t believe in her. And then the librarian was telling me about the pipeline from doing bad in school to ending up in prison. So, our job is to get these kids in our charges excited to read.

      God bless you and your crew,

  3. Very inspiring. Love it!

  4. Liquid chalk markers?! That is a dream come true! And I love this reading challenge idea :0)

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