One of the greatest challenge I have with regards to improving my children’s Chinese standard is to get them to read Chinese books. #3 gives me the least problem in this area because he actually will read Chinese books sometimes when the fancy strikes. Even then, he is still not reading enough to make an impact on his Chinese standard.
Recently I have this idea of giving them a 100 Day Reading Challenge. Now that the mid-year exam is over, and their Chinese results are rather below expectation, it was a timely opportunity for me to push my challenge out to them.
How It Works
The objective of this challenge is purely to cultivate the habit of reading Chinese books. Hopefully, with the habit comes love, but I try not to expect too much.
Each boy decides for himself how long he wants to read a day. 5 mins, 10 minutes, something reasonable but I am not setting the target for them. #3 decided that he would read 20 minutes and #2 decided he would read 30 minutes (I think he felt he couldn’t do less than his younger brother, so a little sibling pressure may work in your favour. Ask the younger one first!)
The challenge is to read for that set amount of time every day for 100 days continuously, without a break. At the end of the 100 Day Challenge, there will be a reward, which we have not actually discussed yet.
There are basically no rules to this challenge apart from reading for 100 days continuously. They can choose to read any Chinese book they want. If the older ones want to read picture books (绘本), it is fine as well. But I did point out that they should try a variety of books and not stick to just one type. Right now, they have not given me strange problems like reading the same book over and over again. But if that happens, I will just have to make adjustments to the rules along the way.
The reason why I use a duration as measure rather than number of books is because if I say ‘read a book a day’, the kid can get away with picking easy, thin books all the time. Now that they have to read for a certain amount of time, if they finished a book in 5 minutes, they just have to get another one and read on until the time is up.
Since they are the ones setting the time limit themselves, they cannot complain about it. In fact, so far, they have gone beyond the time they set when they get engrossed in the stories.
I created a 100 Day Reading Chart to help them track their progress. In fact, I created three versions to share : one for boy, one for girl, and one with animals.
At the top of the chart, you see a statement of commitment :
今天是 year 年 month 月 date 日。在接下来的100天，我， name of child ， 每天要阅读 minutes 分钟。
I added some encouragements throughout the chart, specifically at Day 10, Day 25 (1/4 mark), Day 50 (half way mark) and Day 75 (3/4 mark). I think to follow through to Day 10 is in itself quite commendable, so there should be a little encouragement there. If you are planning on rewarding your child, you may want to consider rewarding him at these ‘milestones’ on top of the final reward at the end of the 100 days.