Library Reward Ideas Students Will Love

It’s likely you’ve found yourself wondering at some point how you can motivate students. Maybe you want to encourage positive behaviors or help struggling students meet a goal.  In these cases, offering extrinsic motivation may help! One way is to brainstorm library reward ideas.

Before I share my different library reward ideas, I was to make it clear that rewarding students isn’t the only way to motivate them. I also advise against simply throwing around awards, especially for expected behavior.

When Should I Use Library Rewards?

Library rewards can be used in various instances, but here are two I use most often in my library. First, there are class incentives. I may have a particular group that struggles to stay on task or clean up the library. If they meet the set goal, the whole class earns a reward.

I also incentive individual students. This works well for students with behavior struggles or learning struggles. This external reward shows them that I recognize their hard work and gives them something to aim for.

Reward Ideas

While food is always a fun incentive, it can get expensive and messy, and there is always the concern for allergies. I recommend choosing non-food based rewards (plus, they don’t expire, so you can use them throughout the school year).

Here are a few ideas –

1. Makerspace

If you have a free choice day, giving students access to a makerspace or free choice center is an easy incentive. You can invite students to this center when you see them working hard in other free choice activities.

2. Special Items

I like having special items reserved for students I want to incentivize. This might be a lego set, puzzle, or reading chair. 

3. Stuffed Animal

Allow a student or students to bring a stuffed animal to the library as a reward! You can also have a stuffed animal you allow students to hold and play with as a reward.

4. Extra Recess

If your schedule allows, one classroom reward idea is extra recess! This is great for incentivizing the whole class. You might be able to organize this extra recess time with the teacher.

5. Flashlight Reading

When I have a class that’s doing really well, I love incorporating a flashlight reading day. Turn down the lights in the library and give students small flashlights to use while independently reading. They love it!

6. No Shoes

This classroom reward idea is probably a favorite of my students. No shoes, no problem! The whole class or particular students can take their shoes off for the duration of the class period.

7. Checkout an Extra Book

– It’s likely that your library has a book limit. But, you can bend the rules a little bit here as an incentive. I suggest doing this for only a few students to avoid checking out a ton of books at once.

8. Read a Joke

If you are looking for a classroom reward idea for a chatty student, this is the perfect incentive. If they can meet the goal for the day, allow them to read a joke out loud at the end of the class period.

9. Game Day

I always save game days right before holidays or on weird schedule days when things seem extra chaotic. It’s a great incentive that keeps students busy and engaged. You can bring out the board games and even use online gamification platforms, like Kahoot! or Blooket.

10. Library is Outside

Nothing is better than spending a nice day outside. Take your class outside for the entirety of their library time or incentive the entire class to meet a goal (complete their station in 20 minutes) in order to get a certain amount of time outside.

11. Scratch and Sniff

What kid doesn’t love a scratch and sniff bookmark or sticker? This is a really easy incentive to whip out in the moment when you see a student going above and beyond.

12. Special Coloring Utensils

Another classroom reward idea is having a special set of markers, crayons, or colored pencils students can use. You can bring these out during centers or as an early finisher activity. 

13. Free Seating

I’m convinced nothing makes my students more excited than free seating. This whole class reward idea will have you students full of anticipation at the chance to sit next to their best friend.

14. Chat Time

If you have a chatty group, this classroom reward idea is for you! Instead of constantly asking for attention, let students know when they can talk. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, then allow for 2-3 minutes of chat time!

15. YouTube Video

When I have a class do really well, a quick way to reward them is with a YouTube video (student-friendly, of course!). You can play a Pixar Short, Go Noodle, or a sing-along.

16. Class Challenge

Incentive the class with a fun challenge. For example, you can have students make paper airplanes and test them. Or do a library scavenger hunt.

17. Teacher’s Helper

This classroom reward idea is loved by both shy and extroverted students. Offer the incentive of being the teacher’s helper for the day. They can pass out items, hold the door, lead the line, and so on.

18. Wheel of Rewards

If you can’t decide on the right reward for a class or student, have them spin a wheel! I like to pick a special student to be the wheel spinner because that’s an incentive within itself!

19. Treasure Chest

A classic classroom reward idea is the treasure chest. You can fill this with dollar store items like bookmarks, plastic rings, fun pencils, and more.

20. Library Music

If you want to reward the whole class, consider library music. You can play instrumentals as students read and work, or a more fun, kid-friendly song as you pack up at the end of class.

I hope these library reward ideas are useful! If you want more tips on classroom management for your library, check out this blog post here.

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