Bribing Reluctant Readers – The Scavenger Hunt Method

Here in Oregon, our quarantine circle closes tighter and tighter around us. Now the smoky air has taken even our socially distant play dates and jaunts into the woods, though honestly we just feel grateful our house isn’t a pile of ashes and rubble, like so many right now.

As our kids struggle to enjoy life within the confines of our walls, I’ve been struggling to find ways to insert fun in the day.

Which is why the discovery of this book in my spice drawer was so fortuitous.

A little background –

As I’ve said before, I don’t have reluctant readers. I have had a reluctant writer, however, and I think the method we used to make writing fun translates well to readers.

Katie Clemons’s journal for mothers and sons (she has one for daughters, too, and a gender-neutral gratitude book) is simple and lighthearted, encourages drawing (not just writing!), and each entry is varied to keep interest levels high. The idea is to pass the book back and forth, reading your mom’s or son’s entry and then filling your own.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Ha. My son would roll his eyes if I said I wanted to journal with him.”

I know mine would have. (More writing???)

But when I introduced the journal I said, “I’m going to write an entry in this book and hide it somewhere in the house. Whenever you find it, read what I wrote and then write an entry yourself and hide it somewhere for me, and so on.”

He was thrilled.

I’ve found the book tucked in with my yoga mat, in my cookbooks, in my bedside basket. He has found it in his LEGO bin, sock drawer, under his pillow.

We only hit a snag when he hid it in my desk drawer, where coupons go to die. I finally found it when binge-watching The Home Edit’s new Netflix show inspired me to tackle that beast. We were both so excited (it had been months and we’d forgotten about it), and when I found it in my spice drawer, peeking out between the ginger and oregano, I laughed out loud.

We need more of those delighted giggle moments right now, don’t we?

So maybe you don’t hide this journal (though I highly recommend it). Maybe you hide a chapter book and whenever it’s discovered you drop everything and read a chapter with your child right then. Or if dropping everything on a moment’s notice isn’t possible, you place two bookmarks inside, one for parent, one for child, and you read until you catch up to each other’s bookmarks. Or maybe it’s actually a book bag and you tuck a different picture book inside each time. You have lots of options. The hunt is the thing. Be creative! (But learn from us and avoid the black hole junk drawers.)

And, in case none of that gets your kid excited about reading or writing, I recommend tying a chocolate bar to the cover. It pairs well with any book.

Happy hunting!

3 thoughts on “Bribing Reluctant Readers – The Scavenger Hunt Method

  1. I could not love this idea anymore! I may have to try it with Cosmo – he can draw me his very interesting pictures and I can write to him.


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