22 October 2010

Life Long Love of Reading

I like books. I like to read books. I’ve been reading books to my daughter since she came home from the hospital. I read to her every night before bed. Every single night. When she started learning how to read, I’d make her read a page or three to me, and then I’d finish reading the book to her. Now that she can read pretty well on her own, she reads the easy books to herself, and I read the longer harder books, a chapter or two a night, every night.

Towards the end of first grade, the teacher sent home a reading log. It was a simple form – fill in the date and the title of the book, return the form when it was filled in. No pressure, no needless detail.

But now she’s in second grade, and the reading log is now the READING LOG. It’s a comb-bound book with a plastic cover that lives in a special red nylon book bag. Every day, four books come home for her daily “read 15-20 minutes” homework assignment.

They are to fill out their reading logs for books read in school and at home – which means on a twice-daily basis – with an onerous amount of information: date – home or school – book title – reading level – start time – end time – pages read – parent initial.

It’s asinine. Not the assignment to read 15-20 minutes a day, but the damned log entries.

What is the point of the start time & stop time? Does it matter that she reads from 5:15 to 5:30 as opposed to 7:30 to 7:45? If she starts reading a library book on the way home, and gets off the bus with her nose in said book, then what? If she writes that she read “all” the pages in the book, what information does that convey to the teacher? If there aren’t any page numbers, how does she reflect the number of pages read? If four books come home, but it takes 20 minutes to read one, does she have to read the rest of them?

This endless list making turns reading into a chore, and inspires one to fudge because who can remember what time she started in on Poppleton. Busy work is not going to instill a life long love of reading. Isn’t that the point of it all?

Good readers record how many miutes and how many pages they read each day and each night to keep track of their reading stamina and volume.

I want her to read for the love of it, for the joy of discovery, for the ability to lose oneself in another world. I want her to read because it’s wonderful, not because it’s another box filled in on the log. I want to trust her when I ask if she "read for 15 minutes" and I don’t want to have to nag her about recording her stamina and volume in the log. I want her to read because she wants to read.

Can we opt out of the reading log?


YourFireAnt said...

Just fill in the blanks with a bunch of made-ups stuff. About time your daughter learned about fiction anyway.


The Library Lady said...

Seriously, see if you CAN opt out of it. Unless it's for grades, I have always ignored such things.

The girls hated that crappy program at school where they had to take tests on books they'd read. They were seldom interested in filling out the circles to make a caterpillar, or "ribbons for reading".

When the teachers commented on it, my response was "She reads every night at home. She LIKES reading itself". And their grades proved it.

I detest anything that makes kids think that reading is anything but a pleasure. And that includes PAYING them to read--I've asked patrons who do that if they pay their kids to watch TV--complicated book logs and summer reading programs that require the kids to achieve the program's goal rather than their own personal best.

It's no way to turn kids into readers for life. And to me, that's the point of encouraging them to read--to make them understand that reading is a pleasurable activity, no matter how little or how much they do it!

Okay, off my soapbox :D

Anonymous said...

This ledger is horrific. I would fudge the damnable thing, only because I'm always hesitant about challenging teachers for fear of reprisals.

Liz Miller said...

My son's school does a reading auction at the end of the year. The reading log is 1 double-sided legal-sized sheet of paper per month, handed back in on the first day of the next month.

All they ask for is the title of the book read that day and a parent's initials that the 20 minutes of reading got done.

And then we add up every day that the reading was done, multiply it by 5 and that's the points earned that month for reading.

Takes me about 30 seconds every night. And he doesn't feel like it's a chore either.

And he always reads more than 20 minutes. ALWAYS.

Liz Miller said...

Which is the long way to say that your daughter's school is completely bizarre.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...


We had to do a reading log in kindergarten -- or rather, *I* did, because my daughter couldn't write well yet. It would have taken her as long to write the title of the book as for me to read the book to her... I told the teacher we would not be completing the reading log. She was cool with it.

Sadly this year's teacher is not so cool; she seems to love to send homework back with errors which I think are not errors; and I could rant for hours on the asinine nature of some of the math homework but I AM REFRAINING.

I hate school more now than I did when I was in it myself.

Pinky said...

I've always hated those reading logs, for all the reasons you mention. When Alex was in first grade, I requested that we be able to opt out, my reason being that it should be obvious that he was reading - a lot. The teacher agreed, and that was that.

We still struggle with it, even now in 7th grade. It is inane and frustrating and, yes, we have been known to fudge them on many an occasion.

Julia said...

Is the "Good readers keep track of..." quote from the log itself?

I'd write back saying that I am a good reader, and I do not keep track of how long I read; one of the hallmarks of a good reader is that he or she gets so absorbed in the reading that time becomes irrelevant.

Seriously, there's nothing wrong with a gracious note saying that you will be opting out of the log, filling in only the bare minimum because the log is proving to be a deterrent and you would rather encourage your daughter to read for enjoyment's sake.

Bibliomama said...

I'm seriously on pins and needles every year waiting to see which teacher my kids get -- someone who gets it, and them, or some asshat who doesn't get it, or anything. I would make stuff up, but being you and not me I suspect you'll go the more confrontational/honest route, and good for you. Either way, it's hooey, pardon my language.

YourFireAnt said...

I would ask her/him to define "good reader".


Life in Eden said...

Luckily ours is not technically required. Last year I forgot all about it, so simply never did it. Missed the back-to-school nite this year, so will feign ignorance again. Hoping I can get away with it forever. And even though for my son reading is a chore (thanks to dyslexic issues) the log would definitely make it even worse. We have a short simple log for his reading assistance program, but I do it.

Keep us updated. Oh, and ps -- I hate my kid's math homework too!

Leanne said...

I, too, would just fill in the titles and your initials and, if the teacher sends a note, send one back asking if the teacher will be sending home a teaching assistant to follow your child around with a stopwatch to track her total seconds devoted to reading to verify whether it meets their minimums.

Our log is just title, date and initials. It's just for French titles (Kieran, 7, is in Grade 2 French Immersion) and, on the back, I started a log of English reading he does so as not to discriminate! I ask Kieran to read to me while I do dishes and make supper.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I've done it. I write a letter, much like this post,assure the teacher that my child IS reading and explain that I am teaching civil disobedience by us not participating. Who cares if their grade gets knocked down in elementary school?

Reading logs have their place in encouraging non-readers, but no way am I going to risk sucking the joy of reading from a reader by this nonsense.

Why yes, I do feel strongly about this!

Amira said...

I loath the reading log too. I hated it when I was in grade school and now that my youngest sister has been doing one for the last three years (she's in fifth grade), she starts complaining about it from day ONE of classes.

Honestly, I think it's partly what ruined her view on reading.

You're completely right about reading and how it should be for the love of it and not another assigned task. But I have a generally don't like most grade school curriculums anyway.

Nonetheless, I hope your daughter still has her love of reading when she's done with this useless task.

Amira said...

*But I generally don't like...

mayberry said...

UGH, ugh ugh ugh. We have to do it too, although without the start/end times--but with a summary of what's read. Last year we just sort of slowed down and then stopped doing the log at some point and the teacher never mentioned it.

Cathy said...

What a horrid, pernicious quotation!

I think you should be as cursory and creative as you can with the reading log. But you probably don't need to opt out officially; that involves bureaucratic effort on your part, the very thing that's so wrong-headed about the log to begin with.

Patois42 said...

Dang, I thought the logs mine brought home were bad enough. Time start and stop? There's a waste of reading time.

InTheFastLane said...

I so agree....I have already had an email conversation with JJ's kindergarten teacher because she wanted him to pick out books he could read (since he can read already) so that he could take tests and earn points. JJ was made that the other kids could get whatever books they wanted (since they can't read - it didn't matter). We did compromise in an effort to get books at his level some weeks and whatever books he wanted other weeks. But, my point to the teacher was that we want him to enjoy reading just because and not because his book will earn him points.

Heide Estes said...

In my oh-so-humble opinion, the asininity of that reading log defies comment.

Debbie D said...

Nothing like that for killing the joy of reading. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anonymous said...

I have never recorded the number of minutes I spent reading, or the number of pages I read. Not on a day, and not on a night. Not once.

Does this mean I'm not a good reader? Seriously?

That log is pretty ridiculous, indeed. Way to suck all the joy out of reading.

nonlineargirl said...

I agree. Totally asinine.

Carol said...


My goddaughter, who I always hoped would learn to love books, cries at night over her homework and hates reading.

She's not quite seven.

I went to school in the Montessori private school system, where reading was something we could choose to do as a recreation. Therefore reading, like video games and play grounds, fell into the category of "fun" and I loved to do it.

But my goddaughter has to read for homework! She has to meet certain "standards" of reading and she gets marked on her ability to decipher words, as if they were mathematics equations that could be deemed right or wrong. This is not what reading is about. In fact, I think every avid reader will plead guilty to having skipped over difficult words as a child rather than stop reading to ask an adult. And we learned to read those words eventually, didn't we?

Homework and tests and correcting turn things into work. This is why kids hate math, too.

Why do we send our kids to school so that they can learn that reading and math and science are WORK and to be hated, then let them come home and discover that video games and television are fun?

I feel like it should be the opposite.

Anna said...

In a word...yes.

Lady M said...

The kindergarten reading log is just book title and parent's initials, so we're ok so far. The little dude still thinks it's fun to fill out. But I dread the day when the fun of reading gets dragged down by the chore of the log.

leanne said...

Oh, dear God. A reading log? I hope to never see one. Especially one so ridiculous in the amount of detail required. My son is in first grade. So far he just brings home one book a day to read. (And usually reads more than the one book a day anyway.)

I'd definitely be looking for some wiggle room on the log.

needleinahaystack said...

Want to hear stupid? How about the special ed program for HS (same district) that has all of the learning disabled kids sit and read to themselves for 15 minutes of the precious time they should be learning. Where is the teacher I asked. Oh she is in the front of the room, reading her own book. That will model a good reader for them.
These are kids who will not learn to love reading in HS by forcing them to read. with no thought to comprehension, to understanding, to how to apply what they have read. Some of the disabilities are not related to reading or even language based issues.
But there was a grant for it.

Jody said...

Been there, loathed that.

Fill out the title, fill out the time, make the minimum required and skip the rest. (I have never once logged the hours spent reading over meals or in the car.) Try not to scream at the idiocy of it all.

Bron said...

That's BS. Yet another way school can suuuuuccckkk the pleasure out of things. Good intentions, yes, but please.

And I'm sure the dyslexic kids are THRILLED that they have to list in painstaking detail - including times! - every book that they've battled through.

What's next? An outdoor play log?

FedUpMom said...

Great post. I added it to my master list of anti-reading-log material:

Join the Chorus Against Reading Logs

Looking for Blue Sky said...

If I was trying to keep on the right side of the school and it was proving tricky then I would probably make up the entries every day. If I got on well with them I'd ask to opt out...very interesting post to an Irish reader :)