Should you bribe your children to read?


By Carole Howard  | PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff

A New York Times article by KJ Dell’Antonia looks at the pros and cons of bribing your children to read.

Everyone agrees that it’s essential that all children be encouraged to read. When reading is difficult for them, so is almost everything else. As kids get to be better readers, every subject from math to history becomes more accessible — and practice is the only way to get there.

So, how do you make that happen?

Many parents fall back on bribery, paying per book, minute or page in currencies ranging from toys to screen time to cash. But many studies show that paying kids to do things they once enjoyed for free can backfire; many kids stop reading when the rewards dry up, while those who aren’t rewarded carry on reading just for fun.

But some experts actually agree that rewards can be useful, especially for younger learners who may benefit from a jump start or a short-term intervention. The rewards don’t have to be money or things. 

Dr. Rahil Briggs, director of pediatric behavioral health at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, said, “It could be that it’s a special treat to go to the library with Dad and that alone time is part of what’s rewarding about it.”

Dr. Edward L. Deci, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester agrees, saying nonmaterial rewards may be the most effective. An excursion with a parent to the library, or a special time reading together and discussing books, convey the importance of reading because your valuable time has become the currency. 

“Money may be motivating,” concluded Dell’Antonia, “but so is living in a home where books and reading are part of family life.” 

As Dr. Briggs noted, reading together, choosing books, talking about words and stories, even going to the library, is a lot harder than taking a dollar out of our wallets. And probably more valuable in the long run.

Your library offers lots of opportunities for you to make reading rewarding for your youngsters. We hope you’ll bring them to one or more of the many library programs created especially for various young age groups by Josie, our early literacy librarian. You’ll find them listed every week in this “Library News” column.

Two library closures

Your library will be closed on Monday, Feb. 21, for Presidents’ Day and Friday, Feb. 25, for staff education.

Deadline tomorrow for T-shirt contest

We’re looking for creative help in designing a T-shirt for this year’s Summer Reading Program — but tomorrow, Feb. 18, is the deadline for submissions. The theme is “oceans of possibilities.” Pick up a flyer at the library or go online to our website at for details. 

The winner will receive a free T-shirt with their design. The winning T-shirt will be worn by staff during the Summer Reading Program and a limited number will be available for purchase. This contest is open to all ages. 

Teen advisory board virtual this month

Next Wednesday, Feb. 23, the teen advisory board will meet from 4 to 5 p.m. on Google Meet. Sixth- through 12th-graders are invited to bring your fun and innovative ideas to help us plan teen programs. 

Baby brain gym

Next Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 2:30 to 3 p.m., families with babies to toddlers aged 3 and under are invited to bring them to the library for hands-on sensory activities designed just for them to help their brains grow. This is an important session when you consider that their brains at that age are forming millions of connections each second.

Spanish conversation

Next Thursday, Feb. 24, from 6 to 7 p.m., we will gather in person at the library to practice speaking and listening skills together. Note the new day and time. There is no minimum skill level required to attend. 

As an alternative, you can learn Spanish and many other languages using the Transparent Language Learning database available at:

ESL classes

Our English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are temporarily suspended while we hire and train a replacement instructor. We’re hoping they’ll resume by March 1, if not before. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Clases de inglés como segundo idioma

Nuestras clases de inglés como segundo idioma (ESL) están suspendidas temporalmente mientras contratamos y capacitamos a un instructor de reemplazo. Esperamos que las clases se reanuden para el 1 de marzo. Nos disculpamos por cualquier inconveniente.

Dungeons and Dragons 

Join us every other Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. for our in-person Dungeons and Dragons game free for teens and young adults. The next one is Tuesday, Feb. 22. 

S.T.E.A.M. enrichment kits

Participants in this free enrichment program for youngsters aged 5 and up receive a kit guiding you through science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) projects. The kits are available all month, but registration is required by calling your library at (970) 264-2209. 

Family storytimes

Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m., join us for free in-person children’s stories, games and plenty of reasons to get up and move. The Feb. 23 storytime will feature guest Kathy Carter with great stories and learning fun. 

Discovery Time takes place Saturday, Feb. 19, on Facebook at 2:30 p.m.

Tech Time 

Free in-person slots are available from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Brad will help you resolve issues with your computer, smartphone, tablet and other electronic devices. 

Adult education 

Our free PALS (Pagosa Adult Learning Services) sessions take place on Thursdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m., when Mark helps with high school equivalency, GED, college prep, financial aid, tutoring and more.

In-person gaming

Enjoy free all-ages video gaming on the Xbox 360 Kinect on Fridays from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. 

Writing challenge 

A new all-ages writing challenge was posted Feb. 14 on the library’s Facebook page. We hope you will challenge your creativity by participating in this free all-ages activity.

Library hours

Most of our programs are happening in person. Also, our hours have returned to pre-COVID levels — and even more on weekdays:

• Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the library is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

• Tuesdays and Thursdays, the library is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

• Saturdays, the library is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

 As well, curbside service continues. Phone (970) 264-2209 when you are in the parking lot so staff can bring the items out for you. If you put a hold on something, please wait for your usual alert (email, phone call or text) before coming to pick it up. 

Activities calendars

To be sure you don’t miss any of the free library activities available to you and your family, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the events calendar each month. There are three versions — children, teens and adults.


“Chasing History” by Carl Bernstein is a memoir of this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist famous for his work on Watergate which tells of his early years as a reporter. “How We Can Win” by Kimberly Jones looks at the effects of systemic racism and reveals how her formative years in Chicago created her lifelong devotion to justice. “My Money My Way” by Kumiko Love details how a poor single woman in debt changed her life and became known as “The Budget Mom.”

Books on CD

“Invisible” by Danielle Steel features a gifted young woman who grew up in an isolated family environment. “End of Days” by Brad Taylor is a Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill thriller. “The Horsewoman” by James Patterson and Mike Lupice is a romantic thriller featuring mother and daughter riders. “Quick Silver” by Dean Koontz is a sci-fi story featuring a man abandoned at 3 days old on an Arizona desert highway. “The Library” by historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur Der Weduwen traces the history of extraordinary libraries and collectors over the centuries. “Fear No Evil” by James Patterson is an Alex Cross thriller. “Criminal Mischief” by Stuart Woods is a Stone Barrington mystery.


“Dune” is the new version of this epic sci-fi film. “Dear Evan Hansen” about an isolated teen is the film made based on the award-winning Broadway musical hit. “Blue Bayou,” an R-rated story of a Korean man about to be separated from his family and deported, is inspired by true events. “Born in the Rockies” is a two-part Nature mini-series about Rocky Mountain wildlife.

Mysteries and thrillers 

“Shadow Ridge” by M.E. Browning centers on an Internet stalker in a small Colorado town. “Devil House” by John Darnielle follows a true crime writer whose research into two notorious murders leads him to a place he never expected. 

Spanish-language novels

“Malibu Renace” (“Malibu Rising”) by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the story of a family’s secrets that takes place at an end-of-summer party. “El Regreso” (“The Return”) by Nicholas Sparks is a romance features a Navy doctor injured in Afghanistan. “Aqui Estuvimos” (“We Were Here”) by Matt de la Pena follows the journey of self-discovery by a boy trying to get back to Mexico.

Other novels

“The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan follows a woman who may be sent to a state-run institution to teach her to be a perfect mother. “A Small World” by Jonathan Evison chronicles 170 years of American history from the varied characters’ points of view. “Other People’s Pets” by R.L. Maizes features a woman who robs homes while caring for their pets. “King of Battle and Blood” by Adrian X. Isolde is romantic fantasy. “Fiona and Jane” by Jean Chen Ho traces the lives of two Taiwanese American women.

Downloadable e-books and audiobooks 

We have a wide variety of downloadable e-books and audio books for all ages — children, tweens, teens and adults — in cloudLibrary. The items in cloudLibrary are purchased separately from physical items, so the books available are different — and it continues to use the consortium’s contributions as well as those that we bought. Select AspenCat Union Catalog when setting up cloudLibrary for use. Email or phone us at (970) 264-2209 if you need our help setting up this service on your device. 


Many thanks to Janice Clinkenbeard and Elaine Lundergan for their generous monetary donations, and to Rosalea Connor, Alice Farley and our anonymous donors for their materials donations. 

Please put your materials donations into the drop box at the library — not at City Market, which is reserved for returns. 

Library foundation

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library Foundation to support and enhance your library by raising funds for information resources, programs, services and facilities. Mail checks to P.O. Box 2045, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 or call Cindi Galabota at (970) 264-2209. 

Quotable quote

“I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your life’s questions is often in someone else’s face. Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces. People’s faces will tell you amazing things. Like if they are angry or nauseous, or asleep.” — Advice to the Harvard graduating class of 2011 from Amy Poehler, American actress, comedian, writer, producer and director.


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at