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The Very Best Way to Get Kids to Read: Cake

While culturally we frown upon bribery -- in fact, in many states it is a serious crime -- as parents we are free to use whatever tools are available to us to build those "meaningful experiences" with our children.
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Strawberry cake on a plate.
Strawberry cake on a plate.

Many parents endorse the notion that giving their children "experiences" is a way to build meaningful memories into their childhoods. I'm all for that. We don't spend a lot of money on our kids, in part because there's not a lot to draw from. My spouse and I are both self-employed; fewer clients means fewer dollars. The silver lining of this black, financial cloud is that my spouse and I are free to spend more time with our children.

Well, when you spend a lot of time with your kids, you need to use all the tools in the box. A recent favorite?

Bribery.

In an effort to squeeze the last little bit of time out of the most recent school vacation, I announced that we would have "Family Reading Time" on the evening before school started back up. I was asked what we would be reading, to which I responded, "We are not reading the same book. You can, individually, read whatever you want, but it should be for pleasure."

The six of each picked a book, and we sat together for an hour and a half, quietly reading in one another's company.

Now, you're probably wondering how this came together without complaints or whining.

Cake.

Homemade cake with coconut frosting is a bonafide incentive to get children (ranging in age from 8 to 15) to sit and spend some quiet "together time" with their parents.

We used bribery. Yep, good old fashioned tit for tat.

For those of you who haven't tried this, it works. It works great. Some folks use jars with coins or charts with stickers; it's the same idea except cake tastes better than dimes and gold stars.

While culturally we frown upon bribery -- in fact, in many states it is a serious crime -- as parents we are free to use whatever tools are available to us to build those "meaningful experiences" with our children.

Next Sunday, we'll be gathering for in the living room with our books again. I think I'll have to up my game: chocolate cake with peanut frosting might be in order.