Do you need a glass of water or...a time machine?

When Megan was in first grade, her class had a reading contest. There were all kinds of little doodads – stickers, pencils, and the like – for prizes at each level, like for 25 books, 50 books, etc. But the grand prize was a gold medal. You got the gold medal when you finished reading 120 books. Megan ended up reading more than 135 books. She was one of the top readers in the class, if not the top reader.

When Megan was in fifth grade, her teacher told me during parent-teacher conference that she was not paying attention in class and therefore not always completing her assignments. The reason?

“She’s always reading. More than once I’ve caught her reading a book hidden in her lap,” he said, making it sound like he’d found drugs on her or something. “She reads when she should be listening to the lesson.”

I wanted to say to him, “Maybe if you were a more interesting teacher, she’d feel inclined to listen.”

Then he went on for a while about a low math test score she had or something, but I didn't hear him because I was reading a book hidden in my lap.

Okay, not really, but I wish.

And thus we see the change in the educational establishment’s attitude toward reading in just a few short years. I think it would be nice if the world appreciated and encouraged reading like Megan’s first grade teacher did. Yes, reading is its own reward, and I think people who read regularly understand this. What I mean is, I think it would be nice if the world gave you stuff for reading like Megan’s first grade teacher did. In other words, I wouldn’t mind a gold medal, not if it were made of real gold. But I think that, if there were such a reading program sponsored by the world, and since this program would be for people who’ve already finished school, the rewards should be more practical, geared toward a real-world application. With this view in mind, here’s how I envision the program:

The Rules

1. You have to actually finish the book

2. Books you read during elementary and high school don’t count unless I say so

3. The following reading material also doesn’t count:

  • Self-help/beauty/diet books by celebrities
  • Harlequin/Silhouette/whatever books, those stupid paranormal romances about seductive werewolves or whatever, and anything by Nora Roberts
  • Picture books, unless you’re reading them to a child, and then you have to read 42 of them to count for one book
  • Magazines
  • Books on tape
  • The Celestine Prophecy

The Prizes

Naturally, the more books you read, the better the prizes. Also, since the US dollar isn’t doing so well right now, and since this would be a world-sponsored contest, payment in Euros should probably be an option. Anyway, here are the prizes:

1. For reading 100 books, you receive a chocolate mint and a certificate that says you’ve done no more than is expected of you.

2. For reading 500 books, you receive everything from the 100-book level plus a mint signed first edition of any book published since 2000, a pair of Thurber Dog bookends, a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice, and a $25 gift certificate to your favorite dessert shop.

3. For reading 1000 books, you receive everything from the 500-book level plus a mint signed first edition of any book published since 1900, a cool Floto briefcase/bookbag, a $250 gift certificate to a restaurant of your choice, and a crisp clean $100 bill.

4. For reading 5000 books, you receive everything from the 1000-book level plus a mint signed first edition of any book ever published, a $500 gift certificate to the department store of your choice, and a crisp clean $1000 bill.

5. For reading 10,000 books, you receive everything from the 5000-book level plus a mint so you can buy whatever first editions or desserts or dinners at a restaurant or whatever you want.

6. For reading 50,000 books, you receive everything from the 10,000-book level plus a time machine, so you can go back in time and buy all the mint first edition books you want, and get them signed in person.

Notice: Use of the time machine for changing the course of history is strictly forbidden, except if you want to make sure your daughter gets a different 5th grade teacher.


jared & megan said...

How do we know that if I had had a different 5th grade teacher that my future would not have been changed?? It very well could have, ya know. But probably not that much. I loooove those prizes!! We wants them, precious.

Shannie said...

well MY fifth grade teacher was very understanding of MY book-hidden-in-lap habits. He knew well what I was doing and just smiled and continued with the math lesson. Of course, I think he only caught me once, but I was his favorite, so if he caught me more than once he didn't say anything. And the books I was reading at the time was Harry Potter 3. So he might've been sympathetic since it just came out.
P.S. I love your idea for a reading contest. How long do you have? How about a free airplane pass thing so you can go all over the world and WRITE YOUR OWN BOOKS?? I think that's a good prize too.

Marlyse & Kenny said...

I did not know that about Megan! That is so funny,
I think that's awesome. You're prize ideas are great!

Brian & Veronica said...

you're hilarious. I don't think that can be said too many times. Tell me, if I read all those books will I be as funny as you?