'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 19 November 2022

Guest Post: Cherie Bell on $5 Book Reviews

One of our favourite guest contributors and mother of four, Cherie Bell gives us the low down on banking  better reading time for your kids. We simply love this idea to bits - read on ...

My kids don’t get pocket money.

I feel that if I give them money for no effort, they will waste it on junk food or junk toys. The Barefoot Investor suggests that kids need to have money to learn how to spend and save money while young, but I just can’t compute handing over cash without work. 

If I start doing that then it’s time to delegate to them responsibility for buying necessities like clothes and I’m not ready for that either.

I encourage them to earn money from me for doing additional household chores on top of the chores they are assigned. 

But I’m also not prepared to pay them for regular, essential contributions to the running of our family home such as taking out the rubbish or unpacking the dishwasher.

A number of years ago I was listening to a podcast where the guest was a self-made young millionaire (or billionaire? can’t quite remember). He talked about a parenting strategy his father had employed. The father’s theory was that as an adult in the real world you get paid comparatively little for doing household chores as there is no barrier to that type of job. Everyone should be able to clean a toilet, empty a rubbish bin, mop or vacuum a floor, wipe walls and windows, etc. So, he was not going to give his child money for doing chores they should be learning to do for themselves.

Instead, the father told the son (who was a teenager at this point) that he would pay him $20 for every book he read as reading, learning, thinking, understanding and educating oneself was of great value.

With this in mind, I have instituted something in my house called $5 Book Reviews. I’m trying to convey to my kids that learning, reading and writing can be economically beneficial. They can work, produce and create to earn money and have the opportunity to learn about saving and spending. I really hope they have more consideration when purchasing because they can equate the money into time they spent and effort they exerted and thus feel more ownership over the things they do buy.

Rules for the $5 Book Review

  • The book they read should not be too easy. They don’t have to read it by themselves, but the book review should be written without too much help. (Thus only kids who have learned to write can opt in to the scheme.)
  • They should use the template I have created for the book review where they list the publication details and categorise the book.
  • The length of the book review is dependent on the child’s grade level. Grade 1 = 1 paragraph, Grade 2 = 2 paragraphs, etc.
  • The child might use a prompt page which has a list of questions which can be used to get ideas for the book review. Not all questions are relevant to all books, and the child can write about something that is not covered on the prompt page.
  • There is no ceiling to the number of book reviews they can write. They can write one every day and they will earn $5 each time.

We had pretty good initial success with this scheme. My two older kids really embraced it and produced books reviews that earned precious cash. Win-win. Kids get money and parents sneakily teach them about the value of reading and writing and working for what you want.

We have been running this scheme for a few years now and it’s been fairly successful. Reviews have been written to fund pet guinea pigs and other parentally refused acquisitions. My tween now seems to think $5 for a 6-paragraph report is a bit cheap, so we might revise the scheme for high school next year.

If you feel like you want to give this a go with your kids, my book review templates are available as free PDF downloads here.

Cherie Bell is a mother of four unholy terrors wildings, a book reviewer, an aspiring librarian, a blogger, a volunteer, a netball coach, and a novice gardener. She can be found at Booking For 4, on Facebook and Instagram.