Would you read for pizza?

21 Dec
Recently reading Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard, this passage caught my attention:
We also know that rewards can have detrimental effects on children’s engagement in learning activities, and yet we continue to reward and punish children with grades. Schools today commonly use programs in which elementary school children “read for pizza” or other rewards (including money). Despite the advances in our understanding of how children learn (…)
It brings me back to elementary school. I probably only experienced the ‘read for pizza’ program once, at the tail end of my fifth grade year. Before, I had experienced the ‘read for books’ program about twice. The idea is, you write down on form how many chapters you’ve read from books, and when you fill up the form you get a pizza. My form was probably the quintessential over-achiever’s form. The moment I got the form, I filled half of it with the chapters of 3 books I was reading (even then, I read multiple books at once), and the next day, the form was filled. However, we were only allowed to turn in the form at the end of the week. However, I did not care for deep dish at all. I just liked the idea of giving my mom the pizza token and the feeling of contributing to the family.
The read for books program, now, was probably even less enticing. The books that were available were ‘junior’ versions of classics which I found stripped of much period idiosyncrasies (slang, context, seemingly useless cultural artifacts) and thus interest.
I understand the logic of encouraging children to read through the reward of pizza. I understand the logic of the possibility that, the more children read, the more they will fall in love with reading. I was very glad when the program started in my brother’s class. I had been hoping and hoping that he would become an avid reader too, but my mentoring of his reading had been sporadic at best. Especially since it cut in with my own reading time. It is quite unsatisfactory to share a book, for example.
However, I found it curious that it did not seem to make a lasting impact on my brother. For a while he was devoted to reading at nights, and filled out the pizza form diligently. However, once the program ended, so did his reading.
It was later on, when his peers started being interested in certain novels, that he wanted to see what it was about, and bought a few. And I would read them with him, sort of competitively. That his interest in reading seemed to pick up a bit.
So I am curious, readers out there: Has anyone ever started their reading career through pizza?

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