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?