Goodbye Reading Logs
There are some weeks when one topic seems to surround me. Last week the topic was required reading and reading logs. The joy and the despair. The love and the hate. The necessity and the ‘wait, it is really a necessity?’.
I have always disliked the idea of reading logs for my girls. I acknowledge that they are the boost that some children need to read daily at home. That said, though, I have always argued that logs are the right method for a super small percentage of children. The avid reader does not need them and in fact can become frustrated by them. And they can be bad news for the developing reading adding another layer of challenge to an already challenging task. I have certainly never heard a parent credit their child’s new found love of the reading to their nightly reading log.
For the first few weeks of school, Katherine was required to read for 30 minutes and then log the book title and number of pages read. This fall, Katherine is dancing and playing soccer a ton (a post for another day!), so she is pretty tired when homework time rolls around. Before this week, we had found a schedule that worked. School, activities, dinner, homework, shower, read tucked in bed under the covers for 30 minutes before lights out. We always read before bed, either out loud or independently, so this plan was working easily within our schedule. Katherine would read when she would normally read and then we would complete her reading log in the morning before school.
This week though Katherine’s required reading requirement changed. In addition to the 30 minutes and pages logged, she also had to write a 3 sentence re-telling of what she had read. We tried two things. We stuck with our schedule from the prior weeks and logged in the morning. That didn’t quite work. Then we tried writing the three sentences in bed and that didn’t quite work either.
My ‘reading log week’ continued when I talked with a friend who was having a problem similar to ours. Then two really interesting blog posts landed in my in box on the very same topic. First The Reading Log Revolt and then Losing the Love of Reading.
I truly believe both as a parent and as a reading specialist that reading logs are not the way to go. What is then? Unfortunately, our school has not done away with reading logs. Fortunately though our principal has instituted two really smart ways to encourage a love of reading and to grow a community of readers.
Enter ‘The Book of the Month’ and ‘One Book, One School’.
Our principal instituted the Book of the Month a few years ago. Each classroom teacher is given a picture book each month and the book is read and discussed within the classroom. All the students in the school have heard and discussed the same book so there is room for school wide discussion on any number of topics related to the book. Genius, right? Authentic reading and discussion. Accessible to all the readers in the school.
And then this year, it got even better. Last week, every single child, teacher and staff member was given a copy of the same book. The World According to Humphrey. The children brought the books home with a letter, encouraging families to read the book together. Two chapters per week. And then there are school wide and community wide discussions about the same book. Genius again. Authentic reading and discussion that encourages reading out loud at home.
So can we throw away our reading logs? I actually think we can. I think we can find authentic and smart ways to get our kids reading without them. What do you all think? I see a campaign in our future. Who’s going to join me?
We’re still before all of this, but I’m with you! I’m just someone who has always devoured books, log or no long. I enjoyed summer reading. I enjoyed reading for school. I still enjoy when scarlet brings home books and I plan to enjoy when she can read to me!
I’m with you Tamara!
Whew! I hear you on this one. We had reading logs up until last year. The only thing my 3rd grader has to do now is just write down the name of the book in his planner that he plans on reading that night. I don’t usually check what he writes down and not sure the teacher does either. I wonder if I am going to get called out by the teacher! 🙂 I think reading logs make sense in theory but it ends up making it a chore.
Totally Hallie- logs really do make reading become a chore. I think your teacher’s compromise seems genius. My guess is she only checks certain kids…
I love reading your blog on stuff like this — it gives me a glimpse into my future. I would love to hear a post about how you’re managing with all the activities that your daughter is in. It seems like it would be overwhelming.
Totally overwhelming Sarah! We are in the process of having lots of family discussion about how we are going to prioritize. My oldest daughter seems to only love school and soccer so her time is easy to manage. My youngest loves everything and with ‘everything’ becoming so serious and so time consuming so quickly, it is certainly becoming a challenge to say the least!
Mine’s in first grade as you know. The “recommendation” is 15-20 minutes of reading a day — to herself, to us, or to be read to. There was some initial log that was more complex at the beginning of the year, but it recently shifted to a form where it’s just the title of the book and she colors in one of three faces to signify whether she didn’t like, liked, or so-so. I don’t mind this particular form because it gets her to think about what kind of books she likes vs. doesn’t. But what does bother me is that we do so much more reading than what is recommended anyway, and so I feel like this log is the kind of thing that is really meant for families that do not do any kind of regular reading in the home (which I know has a multitude of socioeconomic reasons why). And I’ll be honest: it bugs me that I/we have to fill out this form to compensate for that. Her teacher (who also happens to be a reading specialist) should be able to gauge which children are clearly not reading at home and work from there with those children. Ack! I hope these logs do not become worse as the years go on or I shall be with you in the crusade!
Totally! I think part of why the logs drive me so crazy is that both of my girls will regularly say, “But I just want to read!” In other words, I just want to read for pleasure- I hate all the note taking that I have to do too. If we had all the time in the world, the girls could do both- their reading for logging and their reading for pleasure- but I’m afraid that is just not realistic these days… A conundrum for sure!
Stacey, this is an excellent topic and discussion worthy of more time and discussion. I think I’ve written it here before, but I have 3 sons who are 3 different kinds of readers. My oldest is now in 10th grade, and loves to read. He no longer has reading logs, but his literature class talks about the books they’re reading in literature circles. He reads for pleasure if he has a book beside his bed that he’s interested in reading. Boys are tricky readers, I think, so I’m always reading with an eye out for what might interest him.
My 8th grader is part of a class philosophy I hadn’t encountered before–his teacher says she’d like them to leave middle school still wanting to read. She doesn’t believe in forcing them to read, especially with reading logs, but she does want them to read something, preferably every night. The ways she gets them to read is by giving assignments about every week that are creative in teasing out how they feel about what they read. They alternate between written assignments and giving a short oral presentation, one recent one involving describing something in the narrative they’d read which made them laugh. I think it’s a creative way to help them learn to think about what they’ve read, and motivate them to read for something they want to share.
My 6th grader is part of a creative reading strategy, too. His team of teachers operate with the students earning “money” for doing the positive things they’re expected to do. They each have checking accounts and in order to get into the end of semester party , or seasonal party, etc., they have to have a certain balance in their account. Money can be earned in many ways, and one of them is reading. They have tickets, and for every 20 minutes read, the parent signs, and they turn the tickets in for money in their checking account. As far as I know, it’s pretty difficult to earn enough to get into the party, so students feel motivated to earn their money in as many ways they can. I think this is a good alternative to reading logs, though I do know they keep track of what they read, as well. It’s just minus the pressure.
I’m completely with you, Stacey, on education, books, and ways to motivate our children to love to read books. How successful we are in that endeavor is the foundation for the future of our country, and the world. Thanks for the great food for thought! Can’t wait to hear more on what you do going forward! xo
Jennifer- Thank you so much for taking the time to write this lengthy reply. There are so many important ideas and great concrete suggestions here. I am taking notes for sure!!
Writing logs drive me crazy, because I never remembered to fill them out! Fortunately, our school has done away with them. But now, my children don’t seem as disciplined as they once were about their reading:(.
Allie- That’s the struggle isn’t it? The logs do get some kids reading…
I did the same thing as an administrator. I loved our whole school community focus on a book. Great post!
So glad to hear about another school participating in a whole school book. I think it is such a wonderful idea!
So glad we don’t have a mandatory reading log! (And oh, man, that summary would be torture for my son. He’s an avid reader, but 3 sentences is like pulling teeth.) The kids in his school have to fill up one 25 book reading log for the year, and they CAN fill up as many as they want. I’ve stopped trying to keep track of all he’s reading, and he is still reading like mad. 🙂
Alysa, It sounds like your school is doing something really smart with reading logs. Love it! And I agree- three sentences can be like pulling teeth!
I HATE reading logs and I always have… as a kid, I didn’t like them and as a parent, I still don’t.
Susan- I am so with you! I sure wish I could come up with a really great alternative!