interview with author
Parenting
Dad Who Pays His Son $1 For Every Book Read Posts That He's Already Out $120, Divides The Internet On This Parenting Tactic (Interview With Author)
Dad David Woodland started a heated discussion online after he posted that he pays his oldest son to read books.
Dad Who Pays His Son $1 For Every Book Read Posts That He's Already Out $120, Divides The Internet On This Parenting Tactic (Interview With Author)
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Dad David Woodland started a heated discussion online after he posted that he pays his oldest son to read books. David gives his son 1 dollar for every book read and thinks that it’s a great investment. Meanwhile, his kid believes that he’s ripping his dad off by getting paid to read.

David’s post got a lot of attention online. He got nearly half a million likes on Twitter and made a large splash on Reddit where lots of people reposted his tweet. However, people were divided over whether or not what the dad is doing is right.

Some internet users fully supported David and thought that it’s a good way to get his son to develop positive habits. However, others were much more critical of David’s technique. Let’s see what both sides think, shall we, dear Pandas? Bored Panda also got a hold of David and chatted with him about the parenting tactic that he and his wife use, so be sure to read on!

"I don’t think anyone expects to go viral. Been tweeting for a decade and I’d say I have had much better tweets that got 5 likes. The first thing to clarify is that this system was my wife’s idea. So, shoutout to her and she deserves this much sought after, life-changing internet fame (spoiler: it isn’t life-changing at all)," David told us.

We wanted to get to grips with what David thought about all the criticism that his post received. According to the dad, the 'controversy' was around incentive structures in child development.

"Some think that if you reward some tasks, those tasks become chores that a kid will never be able to enjoy. It’s a fair take. In the instance of my son, I don’t worry about his pleasure of reading. He is bright and his vocabulary is exploding," David explained. "He sometimes shocks me with how smart and insightful he is. He has even mentioned we don’t have to pay him anymore, but we do anyway because it’s just a dollar. He doesn’t get an allowance, so outside of chores, this is possibly the only other way he can earn money on his own as an 8-year-old. He likes to save his money and is proud of the pile of money he has accumulated."

The dad said that he'd be willing to keep paying his son to read forever. "If the rate stays at only $1, I would fund it for life if it kept working! The benefits of reading a book can change people’s life. My favorite tweet that came from the thread was this: 'You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library,'" he said.

"It’s hard to overstate the impact of quality time and energy spent on a child. It can have a lifetime effect with exponential impact," David added. "If anyone is interested in hearing more of my thoughts on being a dad in the Silicon Valley, they can check out this recent podcast episode where I was a guest on the Rad Dad Show."

David’s post rubbed some people the wrong way and they explained why they think he’s doing more harm than good. Some said that the moment you stop paying someone for what they should be doing anyway, they’ll lose motivation.

Others pointed out that the point isn’t to read lots of books as quickly as possible but to really understand each one of them. While some Twitter users hinted that throwing money into the mix gets rid of the joy of learning and pointed out that the kid reading for money sounded a lot like a job.

And in case you were wondering how cheating is prevented, David told the internet that his son gladly shares lots and lots of details about the newest book that he read.

According to the New York Times, a whopping 60 percent of parents admitted to paying their kids to read. However, research tends to show that positive behavior ends when the rewards dry up. “If you pay kids to read you’ll get them to read. They’ll continue to read until you end the experiment, and then they’ll stop,” Edward Deci, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, explained.

In that case, non-material ‘bribes’ might be part of the answer. While in-depth discussions with parents about what the kids read or even starting up a book club might be another part of teaching kids to value reading for reading’s sake.

Would you ever pay your child to read books, dear Pandas? What do you think of David and his wife's parenting tactic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Comments (118)
Rae Black
Let's try a new plan: stfu if you don't agree. Different tactics work for different family settings. Hey, guess what? Just because someone doesn't think like you doesn't make them stupid. Dad gets a gold star just for trying something that will benefit his children.
Ola
When I was young for every book I read I got a movie ticket. Now 20 years later I have a degree in literature and couple thousand books at home. I turned out just fine.
Troux
LOL @ research paper claiming that incentives make people less likely to do the task. Yeah I stopped showing up for work when I got my first paycheck, and then I gave up gardening once the tomatoes started blooming. /sarcasm... I presume these are mostly childless adults that are saying "they should just be doing it out of the love for reading/because they are supposed to." Meanwhile, most people probably haven't read 120 books in their lifetime, let alone within a year like this kid did! Aside from reading, this teaches the value of EARNING money. That kid will think about how many books he will have to read if he wants to buy ___.
lenka
An appreciation for reading, whether derived from extrinsic or intrinsic motivation, is valuable gift. The kid feels like he is ripping his dad off, so he is clearly happy with the arrangement. Sounds to me this family has found a win-win arrangement. Good on 'em. Parenting is bloody hard!
slackjack
I'd read my kid a book until it got to the exiting part and then say "I have to go - got something to do." I gave him the book and he finished it. He's an adult now and always has his nose in a book.
Tivoli
When I was 10y, I wasn't allowed to go see lotr because it was too violent. When we saw the book in one of the shelves while cleaning, my mother laughingly said if I read it, we would go together. It took my reading skills to a new level, not to mention a movie I loved because of it. Now I prefer to read the book before I see a movie/TV show. No regrets!
Foxxy (The Original)
We have a deal with our daughter and for every grade above a C she got $50 BUT anything below a C she lost $50 so she had a possibility of earning $500 at the end of the year. This is not something we do every year, this was last year and she ended up with $250. We did this because her whole school life she has struggled academically and not because she isn’t smart, it is because she hasn’t been applying herself, forgetting homework, not completing projects etc so this was an incentive for her to actually do her work and take her education seriously. Grades aren’t everything and isn’t something we focus a lot on to a certain degree, we just don’t want her to fall too far behind and struggle in the future with exams, higher education, employment etc.
Leo H
I think its wonderful because there is no active push for boys to read. So they easily fall behind girls when it comes to language skills in school. Plus the female brain is better suited for processing language to begin with. Your doing your boys a disservice if your not getting them to read
CzechPanda
intrinsic motivation my ass... it get's the job done so it's a win win situation from where I stand... by the time he will stop paying him the kid will already be so smart he would know better... intrinsically
T.J. Barber
My parents used to let me stay up late if i was drawing. Like if i was still drawing at bedtime, I'd get another half hour as long as i continued to draw. Ended up getting a degree in fine art with an emphasis in graphic design, and I'm fully employed as a senior interactive designer now in my 30s. I still look back at the late bedtime as a huge start. It was my parents being excited about what i enjoyed in a tangible way, not just ssying "oo that's nice" but adding some real tangible weight to it. Staying up after bedtime was huge, i would have paid to do that at 8 years old.
Stille20
This is why you don't need to post your business all over social media. There are plenty of arguments to be made on both sides, but do you really trust people who just state their gut reaction like it is fact, even if they think they heard a thing on NPR last week or have a cousin's nephew's sister that did the same thing.
Jo Choto
I think it depends on the kid. Some kids might be all about the money. Some kids might genuinely enjoy the challenge of reading books to earn money. Some kids just hate to read and won't do it for any amount of money!
Lara Mig
My parents would have gone bankrupt following that strategy with me when I was a kid.
Karin Jansen
Gosh, here comes the parenting police again.. It's a win-win by the looks of it. Either the kid already loves to read and is taught that it is a valuable thing to do so and that you can sometimes get paid doing something you love, or the kid hates to read and has an incentive to still do so, so he'll get better at it. Such bull shit about 'killing the motivation' . Personally, I work cause I need money. I wash my clothes to not smell bad. I went to school cause my parents told me so. I did chores to get an allowance. Life is made up out of external motivation. Nothing wrong with that.
Shamiran Y
My mom used to pay me to eat liver. I never told her I enjoyed it. I still love liver, still love my mom. If a father wants to pay his child to read, let him. It could be much, much worse. Opinions & assholes - everyone has one.
Kath Leen
my relatives give me money whenever i show them a perfect score on quizzes and exams when i was young. i then save them to buy toys. when i grew a little older, i realized that i am not doing it just for money and toys. its actually making me feel good when i get good grades.
Michael Capriola Jr.
Whatever works I suppose. I've heard that parents will give their kids money if the grades are good. The Old School method was, you'd get a proud-parental-smile and a pat on the back if the grades were go, and have privileges revoked if they were bad. The idea was, "Your job classification is Student, and whatever your job is you are supposed to give it your utmost."
bryguy
It's a great idea! Those that say when the incentive is gone so will the task, that may be true for things you do not like to do, such as chores, but an incentive for something you enjoy can be extra motivation. Similar to the person that commented on their parents paying them to get A's which increased their GPA. Incentives don't have to be negative, and it may work a lot better than barking at your child they need to read more.
Ben Smith
It's an absolutely wonderful idea. Good for the parents and good for the kid!!
kurisutofu
I used to read so much that I would have ruined my parents. My record was 27 fantasy books in a month. And not the short ones. My dream would be to get paid to read books ... I had to stop reading that much if I wanted to have a social life or follow my other interests.
Tiffany Marie
I think its fine.. Its better then yelling, screaming, being spit on and grounding your kid constantly.. For me I was living in terror that grew into massive complex PTSD & BPD and can't function as an adult. There are worse ways to teach your kids reading then giving them $1 a book. Have them save 25 Cents of that dollar and teach them about "savings" while your at it. Being awarded for hard work is what you should be doing, gives a since of pleasure while doing something you kinda don't want to do. Gives you something to look forward too. It's healthy! ... Your kid could grow up to do drugs trying to find that reward euphoria feeling instead to deal with life. .. I'm pretty sure $1 a book is rather "smart".
Mimi M
A loving, involved dad. A kid who is reading. My, my - what a debate!
guy greej
I have never read a book until I had to for school grade. Imediately fell in love with reading. These guys sound like the pay you in exposure type that are starving the youths. Learn to charge money for chores yet. Nothing in life is free yes. learn early.
Luna Lovegood
It's important to remember that everyone's brain works differently. For some kids, getting paid to read/ do other things helps them develop a lifelong habit and for others it won't help. Know what works for your kid! If it works, great! You found a good way to motivate your child! If not, okay. Find something else that works better. In my opinion, the biggest reason kids don't want to read is that they are constantly getting told to read and what to read. Schools and parents are constantly saying "read this!" and reading can get to feel like a chore. If kids are allowed to find what kind of books they like and encouraged in a way that doesn't feel like they are being forced to read, they will read!
Caroline Driver
Given that girls are still way more likely to read books than boys, (and I do speak from experience of working in a book shop), anything that encourages them is good, and, as the dad said, his son loves reading books now, he even said you don't need to pay me now. It may die off when he hits his teens, that just happens
RaroaRaroa
I met a lady the other day who pays her grandsom $5 if he scores a try in rugby. He's 6. When he asked if it counted if he passed the ball to the kid who did score, he was told no. Way to teach a kid to hog the ball and not be a team player!
Bill
Who read the books for Pizza Hut?
Mindy Keys
Man, people will find something to bitch about in any case won't they? I am totally stealing this idea for my step boys. Right or wrong, if I c an get them to put down a device and pick up a book, I will cough up the cash, no problem!
Colin Mochrie At Its Finest
I doubt he will be an adult who will only read if paid. Or will find a way to get paid to read. Also, we don't work for free-so everyone who says that rewarding kids with incentives will lead to entitlement and greed, etc, try working for free. For them it is work of it does not happen naturally also, Pavlov's dog theory- get them conditioned to do it and find a way to limit the rewards later whether it is cold turkey or slowly lessening.
Roland Kreslin
Well.... I work. I get paid. I have money for things. Kod reads. Get paid. Has money for things. Plus he reads better, he knows more, he develop probably a fable for reading, he don't hang on the phone and Instagram his brain away, he dont spend so much time at video games and TV... So let's talk better about the bad things he don't do because he is busy with reading and earning money and knowledge.
jtrisn1
I wish my mother paid me to read as a child. I would have taken her entire paycheck lom
Viv Hart
As a retired librarian and children's librarian, any sort of incentive to get kids reading, is worthwhile. They eventually get hooked! I had all sorts of competitions in my library, to get kids reading, sadly techno gadgets are more popular these days.
Bacony
If that was me, you'd be bankrupt by now.
Alexei Arntzen
That's gross. Why do you feel the need to teach a child greed so early? Try harder as a parent.
Rosesinmyhair
My sister did the 2nd one. Worked a treat..The year 6 and 7 boys had to go to bed at 8.30pm but could read in bed for an hour, Occasionally mum would bring them hot Milo. The year 3 and prep had to do bed at 730pm but could read in bed till they fell asleep (often just before 8pm?) All the kids are great readers ✌
Dale Overturf
Good job Dad, f*ck what a bunch of keyboard parents say on the interwebs.
Steve Cruz
A lot of parents give their kids money to stop them from begging. I think this is great! It also instills the habit of turning to books -- instead of TV or video games -- that can become an addiction. Be sure to add money-handling techniques, such as budgeting, choosing and analyzing and supporting a charity, and savings.
Karen Lyon
I live and teach in the Silicon Valley. This irritates the hell out of me, but it doesn't shock me. Parents here want their kid to "succeed", and in the drive for that they can totally lose perspective. I don't think this man has bad intentions, I just don't think he really understands how kids think and develop.
joi
I think it's impossible to keep a true reader from reading everything that isn't nailed down. The activity is so pleasurable. I think bribing your kid to read brings in a whole host of issues about becoming a savvy consumer that I personally don't want for my child.
joi
People do what works for them. Who am I to judge? Non-binary first-born taught themself to read at age 2 out of boredom with a mom who did medical transcription all transcribed all day except during the afternoon walk to the park. We didn't choose to raise our kids with tv. Screens didn't exist. My kids played with nature stuff, some hand-made dolls, and invented stuff with craft supplies. They didn't have allowances. We didn't feel our kids needed early training in being consumers. First-born was thrilled when they got their first libary card and went twice a mionth to stock up.
Jason Doakes
So... incentives are bad in the long run, they say, but 120 bucks is 120 books, how many books does an average person read in a lifetime? Even if this kid stops reading books today, I believe he outread/outlearned a lot of us. And BTW, I was never paid for doing chores, I just had to do them, once I was living alone, I stopped doing them regularly. I have no clue about psychology, just adding data to the mix.
Mister Señor
I would pay my teenage son $10 a book if I could get him to read. He has never read a book on his own even though we make him read every day. He can't imagine a book being enjoyable in any way. My next tactic is to get a book on tape that I think he'll like and have him read along with me at night.
Hanis K
People are backlashing parents who pays his kids to read (which the kid enjoy it by reading a lot) while the same backlashing people also got paid to go to work? Will you go to work if you dont get your pay? Different parent different parenting style. Not one style suite all
Timmy
How do they actually know the kid read the books?
Sancho Cruz
It's a good idea. How many adults can say they've read 120 books?? It's a dollar .going to be earning dollars for the rest of his life get used to it. Not making him a snob should be glad mom and dad has the money. Not turning it around and taking it back when they're in a tight situation. Kids need to earn money.I have my son 2 has a bank account already then theirs my oldest son wife baby mama were she makes her 15 ur old my grandson work and pay rent doesn't see a dollar.. 2 sides yo .works for the family that can afford it doesn't for the broke. Mean to say but true. My youngest 2 gets a S.S.I.check From his dad and it goes until account I don't charge him turn down service nor rent somecantgra
DanieLegz
Why not? Let them 'learn to earn' their pocket money.
Izzy_
It's not any different than what libraries do: reward kids for signing up for their summer reading program and get prizes for each book they read.
Izzy_
Regardless if you agree or disagree in paying the child to read, it's already a win as reading is beneficial.
Brendan
There's no way I'd try this with my boy! "Son, you better be reading up there."..."Yeah, Dad, I'm totally reading right now" *chucks book onto the floor and looks online at ways to get around the parental safety lock on the WiFi*
Heather Pobicki
I guess the book it program Pizza Hut had was a terrible idea, bribing children to do things they should have already done. Kudos to this father...I might start this up with my kids to earn their next trip to Kalahari. I know I read a book a day growing up, I would love them to have the same experience.
Azure Adams
Let's see some peer reviewed studies that are evidence based then listen to anyone's opinion
Chutney Hawkes
I can't see the problem. A Dollar a time for the kid to improve his vocabulary & his literacy as well as expanding his mind and imagination seems pretty good value to me.
SirPatTheCat
Honestly I think this is really good. I read a lot in elementary and really enjoyed it, but once I started middle school I got really drained and didn't feel like reading anymore. It wasn't that I didn't have time, I just could not sit down and really get into a book because I felt so drained from school and schoolwork. Idk I feel like this would've helped me continue reading because instead of feeling like I was forcing myself to read just because, it would be more like I wanted to so I could earn money but maybe along the way I would be able to get into the book and gain something from it.
iblowsheep
Hey being rewarded for doing something is generally looked upon as a good thing. So what if the reward is cash?
K Witmer
I gave my daughter M&Ms when I was potty training her. It worked and there were no lasting effects. I also bribed her w little rewards for good behavior. She never once had a tantrum and she's grown up to be an intelligent empathetic kind women that works hard. She sees a therapist for anxiety but I also have it so it's learned or inherited from me.
Monty Glue
My father had a great idea to encourage reading. He cut the plug off the TV set. My family "watched" the moon landing on an AM radio in the kitchen. But due to a lack of TV, I usually read two books a day, cover to cover. It helped I liked non fiction, fiction, technical documents and it made my school life easy. Work was also pretty easy as I had knowledge in so many different fields.
Toka Western
How do you make sure he actually read them?
Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
One person above said they have their kids earn tv time. This is no different. 160 pages is a good size book for a kid . I bet he enjoys reading. I had read hundreds of books before I but high school. I had every Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and Twins, fear street and tons more. I bet he had the reading bug.
J JAM
Child services should remove the children from this unfit household! Lmao - man people aren't even looking for valid reasons to be outraged anymore. Anything will do these days...
wet doge
I remember my mother said she would pay me $1 for every nail I grew out (i bit my nails)... so I grew them all out then she lied and said she never said that. I'll never forget, but I did stop chewing my nails.
WilvanderHeijden
As always there are the whiners that immediately are capable of linking a reward a kid gets for doing something to heavy mental trauma. We did chores for our neighbors when I was a kid for a quarter to get some extra money. None of us have landed in a mental institution, but most of us understood the value of money at a young age. The work I did back then also thought me some skills that come in handy today, like painting, doing repairs and gardening.
dave arterr
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Daria Z
Lol. He'd go broke with me as a child :D Cannot say anything here as I'm not a parent. But instinctively, getting paid by anyone for what you have to do anyway feels wrong.
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