Let's talk reading rewards for a minute. I believe the greatest reward for reading is in the story itself. That's why it's so important to find books with which our children identify!
The second best reward is one that reinforces reading. Offering an experience related to a book is a spectacular way to reinforce reading! Maybe it's making corn husk dolls after reading Little House on the Prairie. Maybe it's visiting a farm after reading Charlotte's Web. Maybe it's making homemade Butterbeer after reading Harry Potter.
This summer, we wanted our 11-year old son, who is a very reluctant reader, to venture into the Harry Potter series. (True confession: I've actually never read the series. I'm not much of a fantasy reader, and I rarely get into anything that's hyped. But HP is a cultural icon and my husband guaranteed me that our son would enjoy it.)
We let him listen to the first two Harry Potter books on Audible. This helped him to latch on to the story and characters more easily, because the reader does the work of decoding words and speaking fluently. When he wanted to read the third book, we pulled out the paperback. Dad read the first couple of chapters aloud, then we turned the book over to our son.
As part of his daily responsibilities, he's required to read for 45 minutes. We announced that we would reward him after he had read 30 consecutive days. He chose to make homemade Butterbeer, which was a huge success. The recipe is below. It was quick and easy with a huge impact. Don't skip the dry ice! The fog as it evaporates creates the coolest effect that feels really magical. It would make a fantastic centerpiece to a special meal or party.
2 liters A&W Cream Soda, chilled
1/4 t. butter extract
1/4 t. caramel extract OR 2 T. Walden Farms caramel syrup
1/2 lb. dry ice
Whipped cream (spray can)
Caramel ice cream topping
Stir together soda, butter extract, and caramel extract in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add dry ice. Watch and enjoy!
To serve, pour or ladle Butterbeer into glasses or jars. Top with a generous swirl of whipped cream. Drizzle caramel topping over the whipped cream.