Mark Twain once said “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them”. As a 1st grade teacher I know one of the most important jobs I have is to help kids learn HOW to read. However, I know my job is not complete unless I have also instilled a  desire to WANT to read. Motivation is a huge component of learning how to read. While the  National Reading Panel identified five essential pillars of reading instruction: phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, I believe (as do many others), that the 6th (overlooked) pillar is motivation.

The NIFTY FIFTY BOOK CLUB is designed to increase the amount of time kids read at home, improve parent partnerships and most importantly, encourage kids to discover the joy of reading. This at-home reading program has been a HUGE success with 1st graders at my school. I introduced it at the end of September and by the end of December ALL but 3 out of 45 first graders had become NIFTY FIFTY Reading Club members! Several students reached the DOUBLE DIAMOND level (250 books) and most had reached the GOLD level (150 books). I have promoted the club by offering three popular rewards; lunch with the teacher (most students choose this!), read to the principal or choose a free book. I also mention the club and its newest members every week in our communication note as well as in our bi-monthly newsletter. I have NEVER had this much at-home reading happening in all of my 20+ years of teaching! I should mention I also send home “just-right” books in a bag with kids every Wednesday and Friday (this is in addition to library books which also go home on a regular basis).

Popular children’s author Rosemary Wells points out that ensuring children do not become “at-risk” but rather “privileged” readers, costs just 20 minutes a day, a parent’s lap and a library card. Wells also states that “Reading to your little one is just like putting gold coins in the bank. It will pay you back tenfold. Your daughter will learn, and imagine, and be strong in herself. Your son will thrive, and give back your love forever.” What more could a parent or teacher want for their children and students? Visit for a copy of the “Read to Your Bunny” and “Children at Risk” speeches. 

Click here to check out my "Nifty Fifty Reading Club" packet!

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