I am in one of those points in life when my personal and professional life are completely intertwined. The reading I do for “work” is so directly related to my own children that I often step back and think how lucky I am to be passionate about something that is truly important for my own children.
I recenlty read the fascinating and wonderfully titled book Readicide by Kelly Gallagher.
In this book, the author argues that well intentioned teachers in a quest toward better reading performance are actually killing the love of reading in children. I picked up this book after learning that my daughter, an avid reader, would need to complete a reading log each night as part of her second grade homework. She is required to read for 20 minutes, write down the title of the book and then ask me to sign off on the log.
I get it. I understand that children need to read. After all, I make a living helping to grow families of readers. I must say I worry though when I hear my daughter say, “Do I have to read tonight?” It’s the words ‘have to’ that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up straight. No, you don’t have I want to shout at the top of my lungs. You don’t have to because you already want to…
As I walked into my daughter’s room this morning, I found myself wishing that I could turn the scene into her teacher as a pass for the rest of the year’s reading homework.
She had been teaching a class full of imaginary students a detailed lesson on genre. If you look closely at the picture you can read the following (with some liberties taken to spell check) written on her easel:
Biography- Meet the Obamas
Realistic Fiction- Fancy Nancy
Pattern- Harriet You’ll Drive me Wild
She had read and discussed each of these books with her pretend class before heading off to her real class this morning.
Now is this really a child who needs to fill out a reading log?
And on the flip side, does the child who would look at my daughter’s easel and think she was a bit nuts need to fill out a reading log either? Will filling out a reading log make a reluctant reader a lover of reading? What is the answer to the reading log discussion? If I knew, I would have met my goal of finally creating a nation full of book lovers. Stay tuned…
The lesson on the easel is spectacular! I don’t know what the answer to the reading log question is either. I wrestle with it myself, as a reading teacher and mom. Clearly, reading logs are designed to instigate regular reading time in households, practice oral reading skills, which of course is all wonderful, and also to hone the organizational skill of logging, but it does not take into account households (such as yours and mine) that are already immersed in literature. Surely she should be permitted to count her morning reading as loggable? My fourth grader, whenever possible, bases her homework writing assignment on the reading she has done in the morning (which is substantial)–we just do not have any time to do it any other way with all the math work to be done! I also think Readicide hits the nail on the head–my daughters both love to read, and do so for much longer than 20 minutes at a pop, but when each started second grade, they cried at the “horror” of reading for 20 minutes!! Yikes!! My answer to the log is mommy knows best!! Everyone in this house has their nose in a book at any given time, and no one is getting turned off to reading on my watch!! And I really believe that any teacher worth their salt would totally agree!!
No, I don’t think a reading log will make a reluctant reader love reading. In fact, just like your avid reader, it might be a complete turn off . As a former teacher, I can understand the intention behind the assignment but I wish common sense would prevail!! It’s assignments like these that make me start considering home school.