Cherie Bell on $5 Book Reviews

Cherie Bell, one of our favorite guest contributors and mother of four, gives us insight on how to set aside better reading time for your children. We just love this idea-she keeps reading her…

My children do not receive pocket money.

I feel like if I give them money without effort, they will waste it on junk food or junk toys. The Barefoot Investor suggests that kids need money to learn how to spend and save money when they’re young, but I can’t figure out cash handing out without work.

If I start doing that, it’s time to hand over the responsibility of buying necessities like clothes to them, and I’m not ready for that either.

I encourage you to earn money from me for doing extra housework on top of your assigned chores.

But I’m also not willing to pay them for regular, essential contributions to running our family home, like taking out the trash or unpacking the dishwasher.

A few years ago I was listening to a podcast in which the guest was a young self-made millionaire (or billionaire? I don’t quite remember). He talked about a parenting strategy that his father had used. The father’s theory was that as an adult in the real world, you get paid relatively little to do housework, since there are no barriers to that kind of work. Everyone should be able to clean a toilet, empty a garbage can, mop or vacuum a floor, clean walls and windows, etc. So, he wasn’t going to give his son money for doing chores they should be learning to do themselves.

Instead, the father told the son (who was a teenager at the time) that he would pay him $20 for each 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 am trying to convey to my children that learning, reading and writing can be financially beneficial. They can work, produce and create to earn money and have the opportunity to learn how to save and spend. I really hope they take more consideration when buying because they can match the money with the time they spent and the effort they exerted and therefore feel more ownership of the things they buy.

Rules for the $5 Book Review

  • The book they read should not be too easy. They don’t have to read it on their own, but the book review should be written without too much help. (Therefore, only children who have learned to write can opt for the scheme.)
  • They should use the template I’ve created for the book review where they list publication details and rate the book.
  • The length of the book review depends on the child’s grade level. Grade 1 = 1 paragraph, Grade 2 = 2 paragraphs, etc.
  • The child can use a prompt page that has a list of questions that can be used to get ideas for the book review. Not all questions are relevant to all books, and the child may write about something that is not covered on the directions page.
  • There is no limit to the number of book reviews you 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 oldest sons really embraced it and produced book reviews that made precious money. win-win Children get money and parents secretly teach them the value of reading and writing and working for what they want.

We have been running this scheme for a few years now and it has been quite successful. Reviews have been written to fund guinea pigs as pets and other purchases rejected by parents. My preteen son now seems to think that $5 for a 6 paragraph report is a bit cheap, so we might revise the outline for high school next year.

If you feel like trying it with your kids, my book review templates are available as free PDF downloads here.

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

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