Ideas and Inspiration for Reading Fundraiser Rewards

students reading books to raise money
Masthead Waves

Boost participation among kids of all ages by putting the fun into your next reading fundraiser. Not only will your event be a memorable experience for all, but creative, cost-effective prizes will help increase enthusiasm and engage students. The positive competition and recognition that prizes generate can help drive the success of your next reading fundraiser. Keep reading to get our top recommendations for both individual and group top achievers.

Body Image 1_Reading Fundraiser Prizes_ Ideas and Inspiration

Motivate Students to Read and Raise Money

By involving all students, readathons are more equitable and inclusive than traditional fundraising options. Plus, they offer a way for the school to raise much-needed funds while promoting literacy at the same time. Challenging students to read incites friendly competition, and the addition of rewards and prizes keeps it fun! Incentives don’t need to be expensive or elaborate, either. Prizes should be cost-effective to maximize the amount of money raised.

Planning Tips for Prizes and Rewards

When planning your next reading fundraiser, it's important to consider the prizes you offer. While teachers and donors may be satisfied with the reward of seeing students develop a love of reading, readers themselves may need a little extra motivation to meet their fundraising goals. As you decide on prizes, keep these key details in mind.

  1. Know your audience: Tailor prizes to student interests and age groups.
  2. Seek out inclusive opportunities: Ensure prizes motivate a wide range of students, including high achievers and enthusiastic participants.
  3. Involve the community: Engage local businesses or community leaders for prize donations or support.
  4. Celebrate effort, not just results: Recognize all participation plus your biggest achievers.
  5. Mix and match prizes: Create prizes that reward both minutes logged and the number of donations received.

Check out these eight tips for organizing your next reading fundraiser. 

Create a Mix That Rewards Reading and Donations

Offer various benchmarks and milestones to motivate continued student reading during the fundraiser. Incorporating prizes throughout a reading fundraiser can help propel students along the way and incentivize them to stay engaged. The table below illustrates how you can effectively mix prizes to motivate students.


Body Image 3_Reading Fundraiser Prizes_ Ideas and InspirationNote that these activity and donation levels are averages. Your school’s student and parent participation rates may look different!


Prizes can be awarded based on either reading minutes or the number of donations received. Alternatively, you can offer both options for the same award. For instance, students can either read 500 minutes or receive 10 donations to earn the opportunity to attend the afternoon movie with other reading achievers from different classes.


Body Image 2_Reading Fundraiser Prizes_ Ideas and Inspiration

Recognize Top Participants

Encourage friendly competition among students and consider reserving special prizes for the top readers of the readathon and those with the most donations. Students will be excited to participate as they work toward a one-of-a-kind reward. 

  • Principal for a Day: Allow the winner to assist with daily announcements, help with routine administrative tasks, or shadow a tour of the classrooms. 
  • Librarian’s Assistant for a Day: The student can help create new displays, choose the titles for read-alouds, and help scan and check out books.
  • Lunch With a Favorite Teacher: An opportunity to have lunch at school with a teacher or staff member of their choice. The topic of conversation? Their favorite books!
  • Bookstore Gift Certificate: A gift certificate donated by local bookstores or funded by the PTA.

Incentivize Classrooms With a Group Activity

Promoting friendly competition between classrooms and teachers helps increase enthusiasm as well. Not only will students feel compelled to read the most minutes or receive the most donations, but classes can unite as they work together to reach a common goal.

  • Extra Recess: Additional playtime during school hours.
  • Board Game Party: Students can bring their favorite board or card games and play for a designated period.
  • Pizza Party: Who doesn’t love pizza? Tap into a local pizzeria to see if they will help sponsor.
  • Movie Party: Allow the class to vote on a movie to watch during class time.
  • Ice Cream Party: Offer a few flavors with all the fixings. Popsicles and other frozen treats are additional options.
  • Outdoor Storytime Picnic: Head outdoors with the winning group to enjoy reading their favorite books or having storytime with a teacher or guest reader.

Encourage Hitting Milestone Targets

To ensure all students feel included and motivated, offer prizes that any student who has reached a particular milestone can redeem. These smaller prizes can provide the encouragement they need to keep reading. Smaller successes lead to more significant achievements.

  • Homework Pass: A pass allowing students to skip one homework assignment.
  • Placement on the Reader Champions List: Recognition on a special list displayed prominently in the school.
  • Printed Certificates: Personalized certificates of achievement for reading or donation milestones.
  • Special Library Privileges: Winners get first access to select a book during library time or extended borrowing limits.
  • Bookmarks: Colorful or uniquely designed bookmarks, possibly even student-designed.
  • Reading Badges, Stickers, and Pins: Fun and collectible; these can be themed around different books or reading levels.
  • Notepad and Pencil Set: Small notepads with pencils for jotting down thoughts or book lists.
  • Reading Timer: Small timers to encourage timed reading sessions.
  • Themed Erasers or Rulers: Fun and functional school supplies with reading or book-related designs.
  • School Mascot Stuffie: Stuffies representing your school’s mascot, like a cougar or a fox.
  • Reading Light: A helpful accessory for any avid reader!
  • Graphic Novel or Comic Book Bundle: A set of popular graphic novels or comic books.
  • School Swag (T-Shirt or Hoodie): Who doesn’t love a free t-shirt? 
  • Journal and Pen Set: A journal with colorful pens for writing or doodling.
  • Book Series Box Set: Continue the reading momentum and send them home with the whole series!
  • Pick a Book: The winner gets to select a book from a preselected collection at the library.

Celebrate School-Wide Achievement

Reward classes or other large groups, like grade levels, who read a certain number of minutes or receive a certain number of donations. All students can participate in these fun activities together.

  • Silly String Gauntlet: Participate in a silly string gauntlet with your school principal.
  • Movie Afternoon: Attend a movie screening in the school auditorium with popcorn and snacks.
  • Kids vs Teachers Soccer Game: Play a friendly soccer match between students and teachers during school hours.
  • Magician or Science Show: Arrange for a local pro to stop by during class time. Local libraries may be able to help connect you with one.
  • Take Your Parents to Lunch Day: Invite parents or caregivers to have lunch at school (in the cafeteria) with students on a specific day.

Learn how a Tennessee elementary school doubled its fundraising efforts with Beanstack.

Inspire Your School to Read and Raise Funds

These are just a few ideas to get you started! We hope they inspire you to create a fun mix of prizes for your school’s next reading fundraiser. Need more ideas? Our team is happy to help. Contact your client success manager if your school is already a Beanstack user. Not yet a Beanstack client? Contact our team to learn how we can help streamline your next reading fundraiser.

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