Reading is the Key!

Do you ever get stuck clicking around Amazon buying random stuff you may not really need but suddenly desire? Do you have a mountain of Amazon boxes in your kitchen waiting for each recycle day? Yeah, me neither! [cough]

Like today, among other things, I got a Misto Brushed Aluminum Olive Oil Sprayer for my roasted cauliflower & Brussels sprouts addiction and a set of 4 Le Creuset Silicone French Coasters for the Coastal Cottage. You never know what you might find!
But sometimes I stumble across something that sparks my creativity and I'm like - SO COOL!....Now what can I do with it? 

This was the case with a set of 100 antique looking keys I found that came with raffia cords & brown card stock tags....all for only $20.99. Officially, it's called: SL crafts Mixed 100pcs Skeleton Keys & 100 pcs Kraft Tags Antiqued Brass Bronze Charms Pendants Wedding favor 34mm-68mm I mean, 100 fancy keys, 100 custom cut out tags, and 100 raffia cords? Bargain!   The reason I'm sharing this is that I think it's totally replicatable in any School Library, ELA, or Reading Classroom.

Any I idea I ever share here on this blog is Creative Commons.  Meaning, feel free to Take, Use, & Share! 

Giving me the credit for the idea would be nice - attribution is the backbone of the CC license lifestyle, but if you don't [shrugs] what am I gonna do? Hunt you down? Pout in your general direction? Nahh... just maybe cry hot tears on a cool pillow. Or not! 

Srsly, at the very bottom of this post are graphics you can download & use! I'd love to see though if you come up with another slogan or design!

I Love Old & Fancy Keys!
About 10 years ago I got a custom sterling & sapphire G key on Etsy and then the extra large Tiffany key -- because, Tiffany. But I thought these cute antique style keys could be used both for a Reading Promotion Program as well as maybe a Teacher Librarian PD gift with the saying "Librarians are the Key to Information Mastery!" (See graphic above
Now, usually I share stuff AFTER I've done it - but we've been testing for SO long (since we came back from Winter Break) and for this project, I'm kinda halfway there and rather than waiting, I thought I'd share it with you now so you could get started if you wanted to!

But First, As Always - the KIDS! 
I needed a tie-in for the keys, a saying, or a motto! Reading is the Key to a Rich & Interesting Future! or....Reading is the Key to a Rich & Interesting Life! How to get this message onto the brown card tags? A custom stamp, that's how! So, I went to Etsy and searched and found Sugar Plum Stamps (with FREE Shipping!) to make a custom stamp with my saying.  And,'s where I live by "there's no shame in my game" I ordered the wrong size first. Yup. Paid $31 bucks of my own $ and when I got the stamp delivered a week or so later and tried it on the tag, it was too big! GAH! So, I contacted the stamp creator gave her the exact size of the tag and a link to the item (so she could double check me!) and ordered a second one. Whew! But the second one was....... perfect! It's OK, I'll find some other use for the larger one -- maybe on a bulletin board advertising the program! (Confession: I HATE making bulletin board displays!)

Shopping List: 
A ball of soft cotton Twine (so kids could wear their key around their neck if they wanted) a Twine dispenser (makes my little sweat shop of production just a little easier) the 100 keys, 1 x 2 inch custom stamp, and a new ink pad. All bought on Amazon or Etsy. 
I challenged my wonderful Library Media Assistant, Kathi Bell to find a Circulation Report that would generate a list of the kids who had read the most books and how many. I have one amazing kid, Miss Caroline who leads the pack and has read 46 books already this year! Then I would give out the keys to all the kids on that list who have read at least X amount of books. I'm choosing 15 books because I think all of my kids can achieve that. The kids who read more are
in the 20+, 30+, 40+ 50+ club and I'll put their names on that bulletin board for recognition. 

Maybe even Instagram pics of the kids with their keys. Here's my friend Mr. Ben who is one of my "frequent fliers" and avid readers. I consulted with these two as I was coming up with the idea, and I'm grateful for their input & ideas. 

So far, I have, I guess  about 50 kids who've read more than 25 books to get started and I'm hoping to use these keys to encourage kids to read more! 

I'll let you know how it goes and I'll update this blog post with more pictures. So far, my investment is about $60
bucks...($40 bucks of my own and some of that because I can't measure properly, doh!) not that much if it makes kids read more! I also hope this will help foster a love of reading, belonging, like they are part of a VIP reading club in our Library Media Center! 

And when I buy more keys, it will only be $21 dollars more and I'll already have the stamp and the string. 

Passport to Reading - Another Idea
I've also done a reading promotion with a passport where kiddos would get a stamp on a "Reading Passport" (laminated on one side only) for each TYPE of book they read. Fiction (or I've also done genres), Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel, Poetry, Science, Maker or Art book. Kids liked that a lot, but it was a bit of work.  

Your Turn! 
What do you think? Like the idea? What have you done to promote reading? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter! Thank you for reading, dear friends! Hope you have a great week. I'm excited that we're now finished MAP Winter testing! 


This was the final version of my stamp, minus my branding name - which is all good. I was just trying to be fancy - if I had to sacrifice something for the readability of the stamp, that was the first thing to go! FEEL FREE TO STEAL....err USE THIS!! (Download Many Sizes
This is how it looks on the card tag - Super Thanks to Adriana Bennett of Sugar Plum Stamps for creating this mock up so I would know how it would look! 

Be kind to each other. Push the positive. Change the world. 
Pay it forward. Keep Praying for good.
Thanks, friends! ~Gwyneth


  1. Love it! Do you mind if we use the same motto?

    1. I'd be honored! That's why I post this stuff, to inspire and help out! Feel free to download the graphic at the bottom of the blog post & use it! Cheers!

  2. This is such a great way to promote reading and literacy! I so love your blog!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  3. I like the reading passport idea. Can you elaborate on how you knew they actually read the book and what incentive did you offer?

    1. Hello Unknown~ You know, it shows how much I'm so excited for a REAL comment (rather than the usual SPAM for classes in Mumbai, Mozambigue, or Mobile that I get from spammers and bots) that I'll answer an anonymous comment! Because, you know, how do I know it's "real" because if they cared that much for the answer, why can't they even leave a name, right? Some great questions I've even called on the phone or emailed to answer in more detail that I wanted to write. Ok......enough of that. Sorry if that sounded snarky,

      How do I know?....Here's how I know. They turned in the book. If a kid really wanted SCAM me to get whatever kind of faux brass key, stuffed animal, sticker or prize...have at it.
      And when I did the Passport thing with the stamps, there really wasn't really a prize, just the the satisfaction of having every square stamped. I can't even remember if I gave it back to the kiddo or displayed it up on the board. But knowing how bad I am about changing my one bulletin board in the library, I'm pretty sure I just gave it to the kid with a big high five and a whooping "Great job sweetie, well done!" Because, what's really reason I'm doing this? To get the kid in the door. OR to get the kid to read more. OR to encourage the kid to read a different or varied type or genre of book.

      At least they're visiting the library. Because, really...isn't that what we want? Occasionally, I'll flip open the book an pick out a character's name and ask a random question, but really -- I don't care. (OK, I'm kind of lying, I think I did that like once in 20+ years) But yeah, go ahead and SCAM me kids! Come and get my prizes, just come to the library & check out a book. It's all good. For every prize I'm scammed out of, I'm sure there are dozens of kiddos avidly reading the books. Because that was me. I was that kid. I was the kid that came to get a book every morning and every afternoon. I was the kid that had the hiding the book inside the desk trick down pat. I was RARELY caught. Ok, I was caught a couple times but I always did it.

      Then, my 1970's style school went OPEN CLASSROOM and for a kid like me, I thrived. I hurried up, did all my work as fast and as well as I could, so I could get that free time to curl up in the library or classroom corner and just READ.

      When I switched to public schools and got identified as a TAG kid, one of the BEST things was that I didn't have to do as much boring stoopid stuff and could kind of craft my own learning plan. That's why I'm such a big fan of PBL and UDL as a teacher librarian. OK, enough about me. GAH.

      WOW...this turned out to be kind of a long rant. I hope it comes across ok, because I guess I'm kind of passionate about this topic.

      When it comes to reading promotion, I want to do fun things to encourage kids to read that doesn't cost a lot of money, doesn't take a lot of time to manage or organize (yeah, I'm kind of lazy that way) and that has that special something -- that fun kind spark of engagement that will encourage the kiddos to give it a whirl.

      What do you do to promote reading? What features do you find that makes a great and easy to do reading promotion? And what's your name, hon? ;-) Either way, hope that helped!


  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Michael! But really, it's the kids who are impressive!

  5. Gwyneth I'm loving the key idea - given I'm in Oz not sure how our grades & ages correspond - just wondering how old the kiddos are - I'm kind of thinking this might be something to try with my 2021 Year 7s incoming - they would be aged 12 - most turning 13 during next year. I think still young enough to think this was a bit fun :-)

    1. Hi Los! Thank you so much for your kind comment! Any chance did we meet when I was speaking with Joyce Valenza in Australia? We went to Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth. That was such a splendid experience!

      Ok, back to your comment. My kids are ages 10-14 -- grades 6, 7, and 8. I think this idea would work for kids of all ages! You wouldn't have to post their pics outside the school - just give them full props within the school. You can also do this virtually with curbside book pick up or eBook check out data! Anyway to give positive attention to your key readers and inspire other readers to join in on the fun!


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