I have a younger family member who doesn’t enjoy reading. Books are like kryptonite to him. It’s really unfortunate because I absolutely love reading and have tried to share some of my favorite books with him, but he prefers screens: TV, video games, and browsing the internet. I really wish he had had access to a place like Vibe – the teen club on Disney Cruise Line – during his formative years to get him away from those screens.
Anyway, it got me thinking about incentives that were offered to me during my childhood to get me to read books. Mind you, I loved reading from the time I was three years old, so I didn’t really need any incentives. But I still thought it was pretty awesome that my local Six Flags offered free tickets to the park for children who had completed 50 hours of reading over a period of two months, as monitored by a responsible adult. I got to go on my very first looping roller coaster, the Great American Scream Machine, as a result of completing my 50 hours of reading.
I was thinking Disney should get in on this action to encourage kids to step away from their screens for a bit. Disney’s “Magic of Storytelling” program provides books to children in need, so kudos to Disney for getting some books into little hands across the country. But my proposal suggests taking this a step further and getting children to READ those book. Disney could offer free Parks tickets to kids who completed 50 hours or more of reading in a two month period, just like the Six Flags program I remember from my childhood.
Is a Disney Reading Club going to generate revenue for Disney? Probably not, unless you consider that perhaps parents who otherwise would not have planned a Disney vacation might be adding it to their agenda. I’m also not pretending to be so naive to think that all adults are “responsible,” and will maintain 100% honesty in signing off on their child’s reading hours, especially if they stand to gain a savings of $100+ for a one-day Disney Parks ticket.
Still, there’s some value in the additional goodwill towards Disney it would create, as Disney could help take part in shaping future generations of readers. In fact, we could incentivize many different actions that children have a hard time doing on their own – whether it be reading books, eating vegetables, or getting exercise – in this manner.