20 Library Reward Ideas Students 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! Before I share my different library reward ideas, I want 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. But for special goals or when a little extra motivation is needed extrinsic rewards work well. Here are some of my favorite library reward ideas that students love.

20 library ideas that students love

When Should I Use Library Rewards?

rewards are a part of your classroom management that will help incentivize students both individually and as a class

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 incentivize 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.

Easy Library 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 some of my most favorite library reward ideas. What gets it to the favorite list? It must be inexpensive, easy to implement, and pack a punch when it comes to motivation.

1. Makerspace

Grab crafting supplies like these to set up a makerspace.

When a class meets the goal, a Makerspace day is a wonderful reward. In a makerspace activity, students get to create, build and explore with different materials. This can be as easy as putting out a variety of crafting supplies or recyclable materials. Anything you have on hand is fair game! You can also have more of a focus by putting out playdough trays.

Some people prefer for a makerspace to be open-ended. Just build, create and “make.” Others like to have a starting point or challenge. Either way, kids love makerspace activities, which is what makes this a great reward.

2. Special Activities

I like having special activities reserved for students I want to incentivize. You increase the motivation factor when students get access to something that is not the norm. Some examples include a LEGO set, working on a puzzle, or time in the special reading chair. 

3. Stuffed Reading Buddies

Reading buddies using stuffed animals is one of the library rewards that is loved by students, especially the younger ones.

Kids of all ages love reading to a friend – real or not-so-real. Enter the power of stuffed animals as reading buddies. I love to collect literacy based character stuffed animals. If you are looking for some, make sure to follow Kohl’s department store. Their Kohl’s Cares section always has some great stuffed animals based on books for only $5!

If you don’t have a collection of reading buddies in the library, you can also allow a student or students to bring a stuffed animal to the library as a reward!

Having the opportunity to read with the stuffed friends is a great reward. If you allow kids to do this often, it may lose some appeal. In that case, getting to have “first choice” is a huge incentive!

4. No Shoes

Talk about an easy reward that kids go bananas over – let them take their shoes off! 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.

5. Extra Recess

Extra recess - loved by kids everywhere.

If your schedule allows, one always-loved classroom reward is extra recess! This is great for incentivizing the whole class and it comes with some extra benefits too. A little extra outdoor time and exercise will make for better focus and learning in the classroom.

Depending on your playground schedule, this might happen during library time or you might need to organize this extra recess time with the teacher. However it works out, you can’ go wrong with extra recess!

6. Checkout an Extra Book

If your library has a book limit, bend the rules a little bit here as an incentive. Let them check out one extra book as a reward for a job well done. I suggest doing this for only a few students to avoid checking out a ton of books at once. And. . . I wouldn’t offer this option for those habitual non-returners. While it is a great incentive we don’t want it to cause a financial hardship on a parent who has to pay book fines or replace lost books.

7. Flashlight Reading

Reading in the dark just might be the most favorite of all library rewards from a student perspective.

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!

I allow students to spread out on the floor and read in the dark. Once a class has earned this reward, it becomes the most requested reward.

All it takes is a class set of small flashlights or finger lights. I prefer the “old fashioned” lights over the new LED lights for this activity because the LED bulbs are just so bright. I’ve found that students really love the lights in different colors too! And. . . once you’ve got these on hand you will find other ways to use them too!

8. Read a Joke

If you are looking for a classroom reward idea for a chatty student or the class clown? 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

Kids love to work together to meet a class goal in order to earn a game day.

Kids love playing games, so any chance to earn a game day yields lots of excitement. I like to save game days for those hard-to-stay-focused 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 or use online gamification platforms, like Kahoot! or Blooket.

10. Scratch and Sniff

Scratch and Sniff stickers and bookmarks . . . the end all of all incentives – at least to a kid. Kids absolutely love these little rewards. I love them because they are so easy to have on hand and pull out at a moment’s notice.

Some kids love collecting stickers on a notebook or water bottle. Others just love having something they don’t get very often. And well. . . the addition of the special smell just takes it over the top!

11. Have Library Class Outside

If the weather is great why not take class outside.  Its a great reward for the students and you!

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

Outside time doesn’t have to mean play time either. Students can have reading time, complete an activity, or have their lesson.

I love this incentive for those beautiful fall and spring days when the weather is just perfect.

12. Special Coloring Utensils

Another great library reward idea is having a special set of markers, crayons, or colored pencils students can use. You can bring these out during your library activity or let students visit a special center and make a bookmark.  

Some of the favorites I have used include smelly markers and decorative pens with fun and silly embellishments on them.

13. Free Seating

Kids of all ages love to sit with their friends.  That's what makes this an easy choice out of all the library rewards.

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. It’s easy to see how this one makes the favorite list. It’s free, easy to implement and kids will do almost anything for a chance to sit where they want with who they want.

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 of “quiet” time when you complete your lesson or activity. It doesn’t actually have to be quiet, but talking should be focused on the activity at hand. Then, if the goal is met, allow for 2-3 minutes of chat time at the end of class.

15. Class Challenge

Students love breaking it up with a class challenge like this paper airplane challenge.

This fun class challenge is a great way to connect a little learning with your incentive. Since these take a little longer to complete, I often use this as an incentive for a larger goal. It might be a month-long goal of returning books or using good library manners, but something that you can track and remind them of along the way.

Some challenges I have used in the past include a paper airplane challenge and a library scavenger hunt. Looking at STEM challenges is a great way to find a class challenge to use as an incentive. Be sure to build in time to “test” the challenge.

16. 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 have a sing-along. There are so many options available and often times you can find a video that lines up with a book you’ve read or one that supports your library lesson. That’s a win-win for sure!

17. Library Helper

Having a student work as a library helper is a great reward that students love.

This classroom reward idea is loved by both shy and extroverted students. And. . . if you have a student that really needs an extra dose of support and encouragement, this is a great one. Allow the student to be a library helper. This might happen during their class library time or you might coordinate a special time with the classroom teacher.

Library helpers can help stack books, put out supplies for a new activity, hold the door for an incoming or outgoing class, or help scan books. Whatever you have them do, the ability to be your helper means a lot and they tend to take the job very seriously.

18. Treasure Chest

A classic reward idea is the treasure chest. You can fill this with dollar store items like bookmarks, plastic rings, fun pencils, and more. You can also ask for donations from parents or friends you know that have kids. A request for kid’s meal toys often brings in lots of great items for the treasure chest.

19. Library Music

This prize wheel is a great way to combine the library rewards in one place.

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. Kids and music go hand in hand so using this as a reward is a no-brainer.

For an added incentive you can pick one or more students who get to choose the song or songs that get played. It’s like two incentives in one!

20. Wheel of Rewards

If you can’t decide on the right reward for a class or student, have them spin a wheel! Think Wheel of Fortune meets County Fair. Whether you make a wheel or grab one like this, you can add multiple rewards and let Lady Luck be the reward chooser.

I like to pick a special student to be the wheel spinner because that’s an incentive within itself!

Put the Library Reward Ideas into Action

I hope that you have found some library reward ideas that you can use. I suggest picking a few and starting with those. It’s always good to have a few individual and a few whole class library rewards in your classroom management toolbox. That way you can pull them out as needed.

If you want more tips on classroom management for your library, check out these posts:

Save these Library Reward Ideas

Pin this to your favorite library Pinterest board and save these library reward ideas so you can come back the next time you need fresh, new reward ideas.

Looking for reward ideas for your school library? This blog post details 20 library rewards and incentives that students love.  From individual to class rewards these can be an important part of your classroom management.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *