All summer we were going into our community with our Super Bus Summer Reading Program. It was designed to keep children's minds focused on learning during the long summer vacation.
Every two weeks we provided the children with a selection of books and they could choose one to read. The rule was that they had to bring it back before they would get another book. The program was greatly successful with many of the children receiving several books throughout the summer. Each time we arrived in their neighborhood the children came running.
Ty was a 12 year-old who had failed to be promoted to the next grade. His mother told me that he only missed passing by 2 points. Then she said, "They should have given him the 2 points." I asked, "Are you sure you'd want them to give it to him?"
Ty joined our summer reading program. I thought that if I could just get him to read, it would help him catch up. I made a deal with him. I handed him "Tom Sawyer" and said, "When you finish this we'll do something special." I told him about my favorite bike trail. I said, "We could go, it's about 10 miles long. It's really cool." He said, "I thought we might go out to eat. I really like Kentucky Fried Chicken." I said, "Sure I like KFC too."[
The next Super Bus Reading Day, he hurried to tell me all about the book. He told me about Tom and the slave, Jim. He told me how Tom helped Jim escape. Then he said, "But I'm not done, I'll read the rest tonight."
That has been several weeks ago. Every time I see him he tells me he's just about finished.
Summer's over. School has begun. I really would like to take Ty for some Kentucky Fried Chicken, but that would be like giving him the 2 points and passing him anyway.
Character is built when we face the consequences of our actions. Rewarding wrong behavior just encourages wrong behavior.
I sure would have enjoyed watching Ty eat KFC and listening to him
tell me about all of the Tom Sawyer book!