Reading Logs Kill Love for Reading

When I was a kid, my nose was always in a book. I lived for the Scholastic Book order thing, so I could order more and more and more! Plus the cute puppy poster that came when you ordered three books.

books with girl reading

I remember my parents and even my grandparents forcing me to put my book du jour down so I could be present with my family at dinner, or at vacation, or during family events.

“Look up,” my mom would say, when we were in the car because she was worried I would get car sick from looking down the whole time. I learned at an early age just the amount of the check looks at the horizon I needed to keep my head and tummy clear and my interest wrapped in the book.

My love for reading continued for the rest of my life. There’s never a time when I’m reading nothing. Nowadays it’s usually on my phone or ipad. But I love books.

When my oldest, Isa, was in elementary school, she hardly ever did that. Now that she’s in 7th grade, and no longer a slave to the prescribed mandatory reading logs, she reads on her own just because she enjoys it. Her favorite day was getting a new library card over the summer. She devoured books as fast as she could check them out.

Gabi is now in third grade. And she has reached the same stage as Isa did. Where reading is a form of torture. And recording the book title and page numbers she reads each night for 20 minutes. That’s it. No more than that. She can’t wait to get through it and be done.

I firmly believe that the reading logs are evil. Not only does her log need to be completed and turned in on Fridays, but I have to sign it!

Now, that’s just ridiculous. They have something called AR which I’m not even sure what it stands for, but when they complete books, the students take a comprehension test and get points for completing them. When I was a kid it was called SRA.

So, I ask you, if they have to read books to take the test, why do they also have to do a reading log and why do I have to sign it? If a student isn’t doing the reading, it would be evident in their AR tests. If they are doing it, it would also be shown by the test. And in Gabi’s case, I’d be willing to bet that she would do better on her AR if she was left to her own pace of reading and deciding how long to read each night.

I know I’m not alone here.

The worst part is, last week, we forgot about the log and she didn’t have me sign it. So, she got detention for not turning it in with my signature. And had to stay in at recess. Guess what she did during detention… READ! So, not only is she mandated to read each evening but reading is also part of the penalty for not having it done? Way to reinforce the negativity she associates with reading.

So then, she lies. We ask her, did you finish your homework? Yes. Did you read? Yes. What book did you read? Um. …

She just wants to get through her reading so she can do other things. She doesn’t care to read and will go to the trouble to avoid it. That makes me sad.

It’s just backward thinking. It’s time schools did away with the parent signed logs.

Just let the kids get excited about reading again.

I need to start reading to her again. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Harry Potter. Harriet the Spy.

We’ll get through it. Like we did with Isa. And probably will with the twins. But I’m intending to counteract the log with the love. Reading should be a joy.


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Miss says:

    I think as parents, we should call the school out. Because you’re totally right. This is why mike hates to read and I hate that!!!

  2. mel says:

    This is exactly why Haley has always hated reading. It was homework or a chore, so when it came time to reading for leisure, she figured she had already done enough to meet school requirements. Frankly, arguing and nagging to get the reading done has also dipped into my own free time where I could be reading. Time for change.

  3. cindy w says:

    Catie’s class does reading logs differently – there’s no specific book they’re required to read or any length of time. They just add how many pages they’ve read of whatever book they’ve chosen, and for how long. No daily requirements. And it’s all online (so I enter the info for her). Instead of making her hate reading, it’s sparked some sort of competitive streak in her, and now she wants to read ALL the time. She tells me how so-and-so in her class is at whatever level, and she needs to read 4 more books so she can be at that level too. Considering how hard it’s been to get her interested in reading, it’s been amazingly positive for us.

    So, I guess like with a lot of things, it’s not the reading logs themselves that are bad, but how they’re handled by the teacher/school.

    The nightly requirement/signed sheet sounds like a pain, and I can see how it’d make it tedious for kids (and parents). Sorry you’re dealing with that.

    • Lexi says:

      Online would be so much easier. Her log is like that, just the title and what pages. It’s the mandatory signature that makes it seem forced. There’s no positive reinforcement. Maybe I need to do a chart of my own where she gets treats/trinkets for completing books. ugh. I don’t know what the answer is.

  4. Holly says:

    I really dislike how the public school system handles reading on the Elementary level. I taught Elementary school for 6 years (a year of 1st, 2 years of 5th and 3 years of 3rd) and I disagreed with how we, as teachers, were forced to teach reading. For one thing, all students have different learning styles. I hated AR (Accelerated Reader) because they were forced to do it, and most of the time, they would rush through books, just to take the tests. I don’t feel that the program promotes long-term learning, and I also don’t feel that it gives an accurate account of true comprehension. But, then again, it almost goes hand in hand with how they are sometimes being taught to take state tests. Also, I’m all about promoting reading different genres to broaden their options, but it can also warrant an adverse response. More times than not, if they read what they want to read, they are more likely to enjoy reading. They push AR so hard where I live and taught (Arkansas and Mississippi), and if I’m not mistaken (and I could be) it has something to do with particular funding that the schools receive if they meet certain criteria while utilizing the AR program. Ugh…I’m all for funding of schools, but sometimes the cost is at the expense of the kids.

    I’m absolutely with you on the reading logs as well. I also think if students had more freedom to flex their reading time, it would help encourage them too. Just like you said, if they were able to choose how long they read each night…or even, giving them the option to skip a night of mandatory reading, and read for fun, be it the back of the cereal box, or picture books to their younger siblings, or reading something just for fun that they choose. Sometimes the smallest amount of freedom can really make a big difference. AND…as far as parents signatures go…you’d think they would take into account too that, oh, I don’t know…parents are SUPER BUSY! Obviously, there are parents, like you and many others, that are very involved in their children’s education, but what about those students whose parents aren’t? Parents do so much already as it is…if they forget to sign it, then their child is punished for that? Ridiculous. How frustrating for parents and kiddos alike!

    Using reading in detention? That seems to me like they are using reading for punishment…talk about mixed signals! Of course you don’t want to read if you associate it with punishment. Rewarding her for meeting her weekly or monthly goals, may honestly help, as you said. If she doesn’t have defined goals, maybe y’all could create some short term, attainable goals for her to work on. That may get her reading and kind of take some of the negative pressure off. Setting her up for success at home, may throw a positive spin on reading for school. You have a great idea there!:)

    It’s things just like this, that pushed me towards a career change. I loved my kids and their parents, but not being able to teach children to how they learn best, because of the pressure to teach them how to take state mandated tests, was just too much.

    I am so sorry that you are having to continually go through this, and I hope she will eventually love to read. I know its absolutely frustrating. You are doing a great job, so keep doing what you are doing and hang in there!!

    • Lexi says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. AR is the dumbest thing. They can only test in their assigned level. So if they read a more difficult book, they don’t get credit or get to take the test. The whole thing is dumb. I’m just trying to nurture a love for reading the best I can and give her a break on these requirements. It’s all a mixed message. And puts insane pressure on an 8 year old.

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