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Ideas to Motivate Students to Complete a Summer Reading Assignment

By Percila Jackson

Here are some ideas to incentive summer reading completion that teachers can use to encourage their students. Recognition, giving an exam on the reading, giving extra credit, or giving prizes are some ideas for incentives that are covered.

It can be difficult to get students to complete a summer reading assignment. School is over and the last thing most students want to do over the summer is read a book or do homework. The following are some ideas of summer reading incentives that can be used to motivate students to complete those assignments.


Summer reading 

A good incentive is to formally recognize those who complete their summer reading assignment when the school year begins. During the first week of class, those students who did their reading can have their names announced in the front of the class and the class can be asked to applaud them. Another idea is to give them a certificate of some sort or a grade slip for the assignment with an "A" on it.

Or, you could create a bulletin board with the projects they made or worksheets they filled out based on the books they read over the summer. Having it displayed gives them more of an incentive to do the project and have read the book!


A good summer reading incentive is to give prizes to those students who completed the reading assignment. Some good prizes that can be used are snacks, free coupons or gift certificates, and stationary. If using food, give a small piece of wrapped candy or a cookie to the students who complete the assignment. If using coupons, use coupons for a free meal or free admission to a movie or theme park. If using stationary as a prize, give out free decorated pens, stickers, or pencils to the students who did their reading.

Another fun prize is a homework pass. You can give each of your students who complete their readings a homework pass. They can then use it if they ever forget to do their homework or if they choose to skip an assignment. Make sure you explicitly tell them which assignments they cannot use their homework pass on.

Extra Credit

Extra credit can also be used as an incentive. In order to implement this incentive, on the first day of class give every student who completed their summer reading assignment extra credit in the class. The amount of extra credit can be anywhere from a few points extra credit to equal to getting an A on a major assignment. The students who did their summer reading will start the school year off with a surplus of points that can act as a cushion for them if they happen to do badly on an assignment later in the year.

Give a Test on the Reading Assignment

A very effective incentive, and perhaps also a very unpopular one among students, is to give a test in the beginning of the school year in order to test the student's knowledge of the summer reading assignment. This test can be simple and basic and just test the basic facts of the book or reading that was assigned. Another type of test is an essay exam. If using an essay exam, ask an in depth question about the summer reading material and have the students turn in a one to five page essay answering the question near the beginning of the school year.

Remind students that summer reading can be fun. Students have the entire summer to complete the reading assignment and it should not be too difficult. Using summer reading incentives such as giving extra credit, giving prizes, and recognizing those who complete their summer reading will motivate students to do their reading.