The idea of using a rewards system to encourage reluctant readers is nothing new. When trying to foster excitement over reading, parents and teachers will offer everything from gold stickers to free pizza. Read.Share.Give. is a program that puts a new twist on an old idea. By integrating technology, philanthropy, and education, Read.Share.Give. is making a big impact on early literacy learning across the nation.

How it works

Read.Share.Give. isn’t your typical reading reward program. While most programs ask children to read a book and reward them with an object or acknowledgment upon completion, Read.Share.Give. has created a more innovative system. Children begin by selecting a title and reading it alone or with an adult. They then locate the book’s Read.Share.Give. label, and enter its tracking number. Parents can even create a new label by visiting the program’s website. They then pass on the title to a friend, classmate, or family member who does the same. For each book that is read, a donation is made to early literacy programs. It’s a cyclical process that uses reading to boost literacy. Pretty neat, right?

Jonathan Liu, senior editor for wired.com’s popular blog GeekDad, recently interviewed David Roy, the director of community partnerships at Knowledge Universe, the organization responsible for the creation of Read.Share.Give. When asked if he thought the rising popularity of digital books would create a “challenge getting books into the hands of kids,” Roy shared some interesting thoughts on digital books and the future of children’s literature:

“Digital books can be a great way to learn – they’re interactive. Although digital books are becoming more and more prevalent, I think they’re unlikely to reach critical mass in children’s books. Such a large part of the experience of reading for children is their tactile development and fine motor skills. Even a baby chewing on a board book is part of the learning process. The challenge is that digital books make it more complicated to reach every child. Digital books are logistically easy, assuming kids have an e-reader. What about the kids who don’t have books at home? We know that in some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the country, there’s only one book available for every 300 children and roughly 31 million children live in a home where there isn’t enough income to cover basic needs, including access to books. While digital books present a challenge as far as ensuring kids have access to books, we’re undaunted and will continue our partnerships with various organizations to get books into children’s hands.”

Roy brings up an interesting point in discussing the relevancy of income disparity. So many current discussions over e-readers and digital books seem to ignore a very basic fact — that many children lack access to regular paper books, let alone their digital incarnations. Although many organizations are aimed at closing that gap, the work being done by Read.Share.Give. is an innovative system for working through income disparities to use technology to boost the literacy of children everywhere. If you’re interested in getting in on the action, grab a book and head over to kindercare.com for more information.