Reading Log Revolt

Parents and teachers of elementary school aged students, I have a confession to make:

I loathe the reading logs my daughter brings home.

So, just to be clear, the reading logs that return from my house, faithfully filled out each week or month — those reading logs are big fat lies.

My older daughter is now in fourth grade. Each year since kindergarten, she’s brought home some version of the nightly “reading log.” Depending on the year and teacher, it’s been as simple as writing down the name, the book, and the number of minutes read (initialed or signed by a parent, of course), or it’s been as involved as a reading response journal that requires her to summarize, or pick out key details, or connect the text to her own life, and to record the number of pages read, time spent reading, etc.

But each reading log comes with one universal expectation: every single night, there’s some minimum requirement for reading (i.e., number of pages read, or amount of time spent reading). And on a nightly basis, that reading must be tracked.

My older daughter (unlike my little one) started kindergarten as a fluent reader, who had already moved on to reading simple chapter books (Magic Tree House, Beverly Cleary, etc.). More importantly, she started kindergarten as a lover of books. My biggest concern (and oh-how-I-wish-my-mom-was-here-to-laugh-as-I-finally-emphathized-with-her-experience-with-me) was how to pry her away from books. But within weeks, the reading log began to change all of that: “Mom, am I done with my fifteen minutes yet?” “Mom, why do I have to write this?” “Mom, I don’t know what to say.” And worst of all: “Do I HAVE TO read?” This, from my voracious reader. This, when previously my bigger concern had been prying books out of her hands: “Stop reading! Go outside and play with your friends!”

Something had to be done. I was watching my daughter’s joy in reading disappear before my eyes. So I made a deal with her: as long as she continued to read voluntarily on her own, I’d stop timing her, stop nagging her, and just sign whatever she brought me for a reading log as long as it looked vaguely reasonable (and honestly, even if it did not). Despite my general emphasis as a parent on honesty, I discovered that I didn’t care in the least if the reading log was accurate or not, because I knew that she was doing far more reading — with far more joy — on her own than the reading log required. Accurate logging was sucking the joy out of reading. It was like my billable hours requirement. For first graders. As a lawyer, tracking my time at work is a necessary evil. But I’m in my forties. My daughter is nine.

And for five years now, that’s how it’s worked in my house.

But there’s always a tension. Now teachers require the kids to write down which pages they read each night. Teachers, my kid doesn’t want to constantly track, track, track. And my kid doesn’t want to constantly be tracked, tracked, tracked.  My kid wants to escape into the world of fiction, where time loses its meaning as she inhabits its characters. My kid wants to read last thing in bed at night, and first thing when she wakes up in the morning, and in the bathtub. She wants to bring her “emergency pack” of books to her little sister’s family picnic for school, and she doesn’t complain when she doesn’t see the iPad for weeks on end, because she has her books.

And I fully believe that part of the reason she still wants to do those things in fourth grade is because I long since agreed that her reading log could be a work of fiction. But I hate lying, and I hate undermining your authority, and I’m wondering if maybe, perhaps, this can be the year that I come clean and we can make a deal: stop requiring the reading log, so I can stop lying on the reading log. But if not, be assured: this is the one and only aspect of my life in which my signature on that reading log my daughter faithfully brings back to you each month is not worth the paper it’s written on. And my daughter is learning a lesson from that — that sometimes, when the system is stupid and counterproductive, the greater good makes it okay to lie and game the system. I don’t like that lesson, but we’ve talked about it, and in this case, I think it’s worth the trade off.

So, for now, the joy my daughter continues to take in the printed page far outweighs the momentary discomfort it causes me to sign — and certify — as true, a reading log that is generally a patchwork of guesses, at best. Because I love my kid.  But wouldn’t it be better if we simply refused to make reading a chore?

I’ll trade lying on reading logs for photos like this any day.

157 thoughts on “Reading Log Revolt

  1. SO much about school makes white lies necessary to survive. Say I want to take my kid on a nature/cultural tour of Puerto Rico for a week, but it would be unexcused absences says the office. Yeah right. I am gonna lie! Schools are not all about learning anymore.

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    • I loved hearing what a voracious reader your daughter is. As a 1st grade teacher, I feel she is the exception rather than the rule, unfortunately. I am constantly looking for ways to promote reading outside of school like on the way to practice or in place of technology. I have found most students to be very truthful when I asked if they read anything last night, recipe? comics? a leveled reader I sent home? The response in usually a monotone…nope, I was too busy, mom said I didn’t have to….I have also commented to parents of voracious readers that filling out the reading log was not necessary when I can clearly see s/he is reading above expectation. We are trying to entice the non-readers with rewards for filling their reading logs because research soon to be published in the August 10 issue of Pediatrics, looked at the brains of 19 3- to 5-year-olds using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The MRIs revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery. Their brains showed greater activity in those key areas while they listened to stories.(Catherine Pearson, Senior Reporter, Women and Parents, The Huffington Post in Science Proves Reading To Kids Really Does Change Their Brains ). We really are trying to promot and motivate, not inconvience you.

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      • To address your points, the data from a study of 19 children isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, however; I don’t think anyone is arguing that reading isn’t great for the brain. The reading logs are tedious tasks for parent and child and discourage reading – the practice your study finds do beneficial. Show me the results of a longitudinal study on family’s arguing about reading minutes in a log every night for 6 years, then we’ll talk. You don’t promote and motivate with onerous forced data tracking. Good age appropriate books, book talks, library time, and creating connections – those are good ways to start

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      • I’m glad you are lenient about the logs because my experience as a parent is that I get almost as much homework as my child. My son’s teacher gave parents a letter stating our signature on the reading log and daily planner was worth 25% of his homework grade. My son is also a voracious reader, to the point the teacher had to have him sit where he couldn’t reach the books on her shelf or he would get distracted looking at them during her lectures. As a third grader he was easily logging 600+ pages per month. I finally got irritated with the highlighter marks and decided to sign anything my son wrote down on his reading log. Then I went to his planner and signed it for the remaining of the year. My teacher friends said, “You didn’t!” I replied, “Oh yes I did.” I don’t believe my son should be punished because I didn’t sign a planner. I did what was important. I made sure he did it, checked it, and had him make corrections after we discussed it and he realized why he made the mistake. It’s so annoying to see the highlighted blank spot where I forgot to sign the planner or log even though the work was done, and done well. What’s more important to teachers, completed work or a parent’s signature? More teachers would make parents happy if they took the logical approach you described.

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      • In my response I wrote that I sign whatever my son writes on his reading log. I should clarify, that sometimes my son writes 50+ pages and sometimes he leaves it blank. I sign acknowledging his status either way. I don’t allow him to falsify his record.

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      • my reluctant reader was not encouraged to read because of the assignments. In fact it made him more reluctant. He became stressed too. Now instead of a kid who read the sports he reads nothing unless forced. BOO!

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      • @DJ, I love that you pre-signed the planner and wish I would have thought of that! Last year, my daughter had a teacher who kept kids in from recess if parents didn’t sign the planner. I argued with her that it wasn’t acceptable to punish children for something they had no control over. She shut me down flat, so I got the principal involved and the situation devolved from there (because even though he agreed with me and told her she couldn’t do it anymore, he told her which parent had complained and she took her anger out on my kid). Despite 8 happy years between 2 kids in that school, we ended up pulling our daughter out to get her away from that toxic environment.

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      • Here’s the thing. Those kids that you are trying to target are usually the ones whose parents are flat out lieing to you, or don’t really care and won’t even look at the kids planner or know what they have for homework. The forced reading time and signed log doesn’t work. Kids who love reading will read without it, kids whose parents ignore them won’t read wether they fail or not, and the rest of them are the ones stuck in the middle. Being stressed out by being forced to read every single night regardless of life happening, fighting with their parents about reading (which makes them hate it more), and parents like me who refuse to falsify the reading log. So how exactly is this constant battle making my reluctant reader want to read? He’s mad at you for excluding him in the reading reward, mad at me for refusing to lie (even though he really didn’t have time to read, and sleep, and play outdoors, and do all his other homework), and hating books even more. It doesn’t work.

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    • Here’s the thing. Have you ever gone to the ER in the middle of the night? Have you ever been to your friendly neighborhood grocery store at 3am? My point is there are a lot of really strange people out there, and at a school we (I’m a teacher) get to see them during the day. Unfortunately for you and your edu-vacation all parents must treated equally. That means if a kid is absent because they went on a really great trip to Williamsburg in the middle of the school year or the kids grandma’s car broke down and their mom’s boyfriend doesn’t own a car and the mom refuses to let her baby ride on the nasty, government provided school bus it doesn’t matter. Usually unless its illness or a death in the family, or a doctor’s appt. it’s unexcused. But here’s the thing…no one cares unless your kid is racking up 10+ days of unexcused absences, and let’s be honest, having your kid out that much doesn’t really show you value the education they are getting.

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    • A lie is a lie, white or otherwise. The school is not making you lie….you choose to lie and you are teaching your child that it is ok. Plan you vacation around the school calendar, or just tell the truth. School IS about learning, you are not. School is just a free babysitter to you. You are THAT parent. You have no idea what school is about because you are not involved. You just drop your kid off at free daycare and expect everyone to serve you.

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      • Are you kidding? A child’s first learning experience occurs at home. Some get a better education than others. But home life is NOT irrelevant and yes, some parents can come up with a more appropriate and relevant curriculum than state-licensed-and-funded public schools.

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      • Good grief! Parents are not about learning? That is a ridiculous statement. Parents are the child’s first teachers, good or bad teaching. Some parents take their children on the most amazing adventures that nothing we (yes, I am a teacher) do in school can even come close to duplicating. Other parents let their kids stay home when it rains or when a sibling is sick or when they don’t want to dive them to school. I had a student miss 48 days of school this year in 4th grade. That is 7 weeks. He is not a sickly child. Little sis missed the same. Huh, what’s up with that. After repeated calls, notes home, attendance checks, I was told to “leave it alone” by my admin. Because the parents thought it was harassment. Child was at a 1 st grade level but had no learning disability, just attendance issues. One year he missed over 71 days.

        I don’t do reading logs. Parents just sign to make kid and teacher happy. Teachers know who is reading at home, or doing the homework. Hint, most parents can’t disguise their handwriting very well.

        Just teach your child to be responsible to get their work done. It is a life skill, not a competition. I want kids to love reading, not the grade they get from it. I want parents to be involved and notice what their child is working on at school, not sign some paper the kid randomly shoves in their face so they can get back to their TV show.

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      • How can you say that someone who goes to such great lengths to encourage her kids to be voracious readers is not “about learning”? The FOUNDATION for learning is laid at HOME. This wise mom knows that her “voracious readers” will be smarter, have a MUCH wider range of knowledge, do better academically and score higher on college entrance exams than a child who sits in a classroom every day but reads only minimally at home. Ultimately, it is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that a child receives an excellent education and doing whatever it takes to raise a voracious reader demonstrates that this mom takes her responsibility seriously. (I don’t fault the teacher here, by the way. Some kids would be very motivated by the reading log…The child here happens not to be. It was detrimental. People are different and thankfully this mom understands her child well enough to know what’s best for her. )

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      • Mel – Spoken like a TRUE BRAINWASHED SHEEPLE Liberal. Schools are filled with PC garbage nowadays that ban God, parental decision making, creativity, and indivduality.

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    • As a 3rd – 4th grade teacher, with 42 years in the classroom, I’ve had parents ask me if they could take their children on vacation with them, if it would play havoc with their education if they did, and could they have a packet of work that they could do so as not to fall behind. I always reassured my student’s parents to take their kids on vacation, don’t bring any packet of schoolwork with them, enjoy their trip, and most of all your time with your child, and let me worry about bringing their child up to date on the learning that they missed. This worked out for all my students and for all the years i spent in the classroom. But, most of all the kids and their parents had a wonderful experience together with out worrying about school.

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    • I am fortunate to be a mother of 3 male, avid readers myself and have also taught grades 4th through 6th grade for the last 25+ years. I believe I speak for most teachers when I agree with a family’s choice to pull a child out of school for a meaningful family vacation. I also applaud a parent’s insight and willingness to preserve a child’s love of reading by signing whatever is asked by the teacher, even if it is not accurate. I too didn’t require my boys to count pages or keep track of the time they read because I knew, and so did they, that their reading far surpassed that which was required. I also explained to my children, as I explain to my students in the classroom, that this “requirement” by a teacher is simply meant to be an “assignment” for those reluctant readers who have not yet discovered or crossed that bridge of fluency where they chose to read on their own. Time spent reading is one of the most important determiners of future success, as you are well aware of, I am sure. In support of my fellow educator’s goal to encourage reading I would like to present the following arguments: To begin with, not every home has the ability, incentive, or prior modeling to find the resources (time or financial) to support early literacy. Unfortunately, every child is also not born with the genetic gifts to intrinsically find reading enjoyable, especially at first when it can be extremely challenging, time-consuming, and just another assignment that he/she struggles to complete. It is for these unfortunate children who are at risk of never becoming fluent enough in reading to discover the joys and benefits the rest of us have been blessed with, that we teachers continue to encourage, assign, monitor, and assess pages or minutes read and responses journaled. All children deserve to understand how incredibly important and life-changing a solid habit of reading daily can provide. Good age-appropriate books, talks and discussions, library visits, and modeling are what all teachers (I hope) utilize on a daily basis. With most groups of 25-30 students this is still not enough for a few reluctant readers. Reading takes work and practice to become proficient at for many children. Hopefully, these children have models who can ensure that this practice does occur before they fall too far behind. This practice may need to be “assigned” to be accomplished. 🙂

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    • She didn’t teach her daughter indiscriminate lying….she taught her daughter about priorities in life…in order to survive in a corrupt world without giving up your soul, you have to do what you have to do…It’s about priorities…and if truth needs to be served by managing the corrupt world around you, then so be it.

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      • It makes no sense that someone who reads for long stretches at a time would need to be told, “I’m timing you,” It is not a hardship to jot down pages read afterward, and the brief summaries required help kids think about what they read. Parenting is a full time job, and requires a lot of work.

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      • Requiring a reading log is not an example of corruption. The teachers is encouraging children to read. That is not a bad thing. If the requirement does not work for your child, you can talk to the teacher and work out an alternate plan. I did that with my child and the teacher was fine with it. I did not have to lie. And YES, the author is teaching her child to lie rather than find a solution.

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    • No. It’s not lying to lie. It’s about demonstrating constructive and creative ways to prevent your own spirit and intellect from being restricted and contorted by artificial, inappropriate, and one-size fits all school assignments. It is non-violent, based on a love of reading and expanding wonder. It also shows the daughter that her mother supports her reading. I suppose the better way would be to direct this strategy to the teachers with this explanation so the action would be understood for this child and this home, opening the possibility of offering this to other children and families. Notice that tha author does not write about her other child. No one strategy works for everyone.

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      • Yes, it is lying. You can support your child without telling lies. Yes, the other way that you described is the better way.

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    • Given the fact that there is a mountain of research that demonstrates that people respond to this sort of “reward” system or surveillance by losing interest in the task altogether, and her daughter is acting precisely as the research expects, she would be a negligent parent if she continued to do as the school asked without rebelling. Clearly, the teachers themselves haven’t bothered reading the literature!

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      • Reading Logs, when used only to police a reader, can obviously be detrimental. As a better stance it can be so productive to design the use of Reading Logs as one of the tools for self-reflection – for the reader (and for those interested to coach or confer with him) to consider, “How’s my reading life going?” In other words, logs are not just about quantity. They can provide data worthy of (self-)analysis.

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  2. I work for the school board. I’m a NBPTS teacher. I tried to explain to my daughter’s teacher that the requirements were making her hate to read. The principal called me unprofessional. My daughter no longer attends public school, and now she loves to read.

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  3. Have you ever thought that maybe those reading logs weren’t meant for families and children like yours? For many families literacy is not highly valued and children are not exposed to books early nor is a love for independent reading fostered. Those reading logs are the teacher’s way to help build reading time into families that may not engage in reading unless it is requires and monitored. Not all children are voracious reader like yours. I’ve have many parents say they are glad that I reinforce the expectation for signing off on reading for 20 minutes because it gives them a leg to stand on when they are trying to get their child go read at home. The child is moee willing to do what the teacher says than what the parent asks. With all of that being said I realize that many reading logs are cumbersome and not worthwhile. Try sharing your experiences in a respectful way to the teachers directly. Or ask your child to talk to the teacher about her thoughts. That would teach your daughter the value of advocating for yourself and seeking better understanding of issues before choosing to lie or work around them. There is a way to advocate and share your thoughts with teachers directly that can teach your child valuable lessons. Please try to think outside of your own child and home situation and speak to teachers before publicly criticizing.

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    • That might be the teacher’s intent, but all the research indicates that the strategy will fail to lead to any intrinsic pleasure in reading for the students.

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  4. Reading logs are not a one-size-fits-all…but they do, for the most part, help non-readers become readers. Also, teachers aren’t the “reading police” are we are so often accused of being. Districts and administrators require kids to read…which really isn’t a bad thing. When a child is finding success reading on her own and is just nervous about “logging” – don’t “time” her. But because reading and writing go hand in hand, it is important for her to write “something”…anything…a connection, a thought, a summary, new words, etc. Many would be surprised to see how much growth a “non-reader” can grow in a school year because of mandatory nightly reading.

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  5. As a teacher, I struggle with this every year. The only homework I give is reading. All the research supports at home reading. Some kids read because they are readers and/or come from homes with readers. Each year, I move a little further away from the book log and closer to just initial this that your child read this week. I am open to suggestions. How do I encourage reading with some accountability yet not skill it do death at home?

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    • You might consider allowing some time back in class for Ss to talk about what they enjoyed reading. A classroom culture of enthusiastic readers is possible to co-create with your Ss, being particularly attentive to those who currently show motivation to read only in a narrow range (e.g., graphic novels) – they need to have their voice heard in the chorus of readers in the room. I have experienced the power of harnessing the capital and using the currency of students’ excitement about what they read – to share the wealth. By further socializing reading I think you can find success. Book partnerships, book clubs, etc (see Teachers College Reading Workshop ideas) all contribute to a lively reading classroom – which is in your control to plan for much more than for what/how things are done at homes. Trust that their school lives carry forward beyond the school door and school day – you are one of the most influential people in your students’ lives! Celebrate this 🙂

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  6. I totally agree. My nephew loved to read until he was required to read 20 minutes a night and keep a log. Reading was turned into a chore that MUST be done. I do not agree that this parent was teaching her child to lie. She was teaching her to love books!

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  7. It would be great if ALL kids were like yours!! As a teacher of reading for more than 15 years and one of those dreadful teachers that require some sort of reading log I must say that to take them away feels wrong. Most children do not start off kindergarten with a love of reading. In fact most kids by middle school will say they hate reading. Not because of required reading but because they came from a home that never has valued reading. There are tons of statistics that say the more a child reads the better success they will have in school and in life. Because of this it is my job to encourage a child to read for even 10 minutes each night. There are a ton of other factors I have think about such as, make sure the child has books in their hands to read, find subjects that they will want to read, etc. Without the reading log many parents wouldn’t even bother to encourage their kids to read. So keep lying or fill them out honestly but it would never stop me from trying to make every child a better person and reader!

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  8. Unfortunately many children don’t read anything. Reading logs are really for them. Some parents don’t encourage reading but the more a child reads the better prepared they will be in all subject areas.

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  9. Aw…I hate seeing ugly comments. You go right ahead and do what’s best for your baby! I’m a teacher, and I totally see where you are coming from. Actually, i’m glad I’ve read this, to give me a different perspective. I’m completely changing my reading log system this year–let me know what you think. I’m keeping a basic log only because it helps my students reflect on the books they have read (imagine seeing a recorded log of all the titles you finished in a school year!). The students will only record the date they started the book and the date they finished, as an assessment piece for me–to see if a student is taking too long on a book (possibly because they are reading too many at a time). The log will be kept in a journal, not for me to check, but only for them to use as reflection. I feel that this is authentic–I even keep a “Read This” list on GoodReads.com so I can see all the books I’ve read and reflect on them. I’d love to hear your thoughts as a parent!

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    • I love that you are re-thinking your approach. But I pricked at the “how long it took to read the book” I have a different perspective, as we all do. I have 3 daughters all with severe dyslexia. If you asked any of my 3 daughters to put the day they started and they day they ended a book they would never read a book the entire year. They would have froze with fear. Fear of can I read this, how long will it take me, how long is it taking everyone else….you get the idea.
      We have moved past the early elementary years. Sadly my daughters do not read for enjoyment and quite frankly, never will.

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    • I like your proposed plan, and I’m glad you have the latitude to singularly change your reading log. My children’s school has a school wide program, which all teachers use.

      Your method would reduce the logging frequency, yet help the child see their achievement. They may also start noticing a trend in the types of books they enjoy reading, which would help them select future books. At a minimum they would have an intrinsic reward.
      Is there an extrinsic reward/recognition?

      Are you posting the monthly results within the classroom? That would concern me some because it leads to competition and possibly negativity.

      I think a “Good Reads” list in the classroom would be good. Students would be given the opportunity to add books they enjoyed.

      Are parents required to sign the log?

      As a parent I like it because it takes away the chore of reading a set amount nightly and is one less thing I have to check for each of my children. As a substitute teacher I like it, because again it is one less thing for me to try and achieve in the last few minutes of a busy day. I like to end the day on a positive note, which is hard to achieve some days due to a lack of parent signatures.

      Good luck with the implementation of this program and please post some lessons learned later.

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    • I’ve used reading logs in the past with my second and third graders, but there was an amount of time per week to be read, so the time during the week was flexible for the families. I know there are ball games, church, family events, and other things that can get in the way of reading every night. Parents were expected to initial at the end of the week that their child read the proper amount. If students read more than the expectations, awesome! If they consistently read less, then I would sit down with that child and/or their parents, and we would work something out (lowering the minutes required (and then slowly raising them as the year progressed), allowing time read in class to count, bringing books home so there would be something to read besides cereal boxes…). Students showed their reading comprehension by having “book club” as the first part of our reading block. They would sit and talk with a partner about what they read last night. If they didn’t read, they could listen to their partner or predict what will be happening in their book the next time they read. There was no writing, just a low pressure conversation between friends.
      I found this to be effective because it still holds students accountable, but there didn’t have to be strict monitoring of minutes every night, and parents only had to sign once a week.

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  10. I really love this. I remember getting a book I was really into in high school, and getting chastised for reading ahead of the daily pages. I loved it, and I was gonna keep reading!

    I don’t quite see what you are doing as lying. She is reading, and you’ve pointed out that it is much more than the required minutes. Signing off saying that she read 20 minutes isn’t a lie, you are just skipping the formality of her timing it.

    Sometimes though, the reading log isn’t always the teacher’s decision. My school requires us to send home a specific amount of homework each night, which includes a reading log. Might be an issue to take up with the admin requiring these things.

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  11. What you have taught your child is that it is ok to lie! You taught her that this particular homework is not important! You taught her that Mom doesn’t think this reading log is important. By doing that, you are hurting your child, not the teacher. Your child has this feeling toward reading homework for the same reason all the children don’t like homework…they don’t want to work, they are not motivated to do or try, they want to play, they want to do anything but homework! They are children and need proper guidance from parents. Do you have reading time at home as a family? Probably not. Most parents don’t. Teachers know which students truly read. They are above grade level in reading! They willingly choose a book at school and read it during choice time. They show us, throughout the school day, that they care about doing their tasks no matter what task it is. Many parents DO their child’s homework because they don’t want to get notes about little Johnny not doing his homework. Guess what…we know each and every parent that does it and we shake our heads. We can only do so much as teachers…we can’t change what happens at home. I just wish parents would be parents.

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  12. I understand your frustration with reading logs. I am a parent to two boys (who don’t love to read) and a primary teacher (who loves reading). As a parent, I love reading logs because it motivates my boys to read! It doesn’t have to be me telling them to read, it is an expectation. As a teacher, I have seen the research that shows children who read for a minimum of 20 minutes a night have added benefits such as increased vocabulary. I am sorry this is a conflict of morals at home. Truly, it really isn’t a work of fiction because your daughter is reading…on her own which is wonderful. So you might stretch dates or page numbers, that’s ok. The goal is consistent reading so I would say you are in the right! Keep fostering that love of books!

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  13. Reading Revolt
    Thank you for putting this so passionately…
    I confess that I, too am a hater of minimum reading requirement and page counting. I teach reading to first graders; and am highly effective at doing so. MY students leave my class as book lovers, with a lifelong habit of reading every day; intrinsically; and with reading skills that surpass my first grade SGO’s.

    MY revolution began back in 2002 when my OWN voracious reader came home from school with the … “reading requirement”. I chose my revolt verrry carefully. I approached her teacher and told her that I did not want my daughter to participate in this counterproductive task which was designed to ignite kids to read; and that Mine was already a reader. Like yours. She had a book hidden in every bathroom, and another by her bedside. For her to count pages and time herself for 15 minutes; when she would read for over an hour some nights… was jeopardizing what her Reading Specialist father and I had cultivated for seven years. It made me mad!
    She did not need to count pages or minutes…SHE DID NOT! The teacher told me that it was a school REQUIREMENT! SOOO, I wrote to the principal of the school explaining the situation; and I agreed that my daughter would sign that she read each night…ugh.
    When she was small it wasn’t “which book shall we read tonight” but HOW MANY can we read tonight! I confess, i also used it as a natural consequence for behavior requiring disciplinary action! (motivater/conssequence) If she didn’t follow through on her task, the number of books we were to share was GOING DOWN!!!
    Fast forward to how I teach my “littles” to love reading; to be strong readers who can follow plots and ask questions, and show an eagerness to read??? As first grade teacher in our competitive educational climate, I DO send home a reading journal each day. I do NOT require the 15 – 2o minute “district” mandate that they do. Our supervisors have said as long as I reach my Student Growth Objectives (which I surpass) they are happy. I send home a reading task that either mirrors what strategy we used that day, or let the child CHOOSE his or her strategy. ( connection, prediction, visualization. Instead of having parents sign their journal each night, I have the students THEMSELVES sign THEIR OWN JOURNALS!!! Ownership, value, respect that the student who is six or seven is in fact in charge of his/her own learning!
    OFF soapbox! And thank you for helping me get out of my closet!!!

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    • Thank you! I appreciate you putting a love of reading as a higher priority than a set number of minutes read per day. My first grader logs her books also, but I am required to sign. Our school has preprinted and dated lines for the reading log. It is frustrating that my first grader only gets credit for one of the books she read that day. If my son is thoroughly into a book, he can read it in a day and start a new book, but again he only gets credit for one book. Also, the school only tracks week days. Due to extra curricular activities reading may not happen, but there isn’t a place to log all the reading that occurred over the weekend when our family had more free time. Please keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

      Like

  14. As a parent and a teacher. I see both sides and it is basically a thing that is between a rock and a hard place. My son stopped enjoying reading when he had to write a summary. He didn’t like to write. It was frustrating for me. As a teacher, I have worked with many children who do not get read to or read on their own. It is frustrating. So what is the answer here? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps in this case, compromising with the teacher-working it out together. Maybe skip the pages/time part but sometimes the summary or other required piece is a yes. Other skills are involved too (the writing, summarizing, character feelings, Etc.). Maybe a menu- things they have to do mixed in with nights of free reading with no additional assignment to the reading. Just know from both perspectives there isn’t an easy solution.

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  15. I can assure you that your negative experience with reading logs is not the intentions of your daughters teachers…as a kindergarten teacher I send home a monthly reading log…if it gets filled in great, if not that’s great too…my job is not police what you do at home but to help facilitate and encourage reading outside of school…I have also found that often parents want to be involved but unfortunately do not know what to do and a simple reading log in the folder is something they can help their child with.

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  16. I hated reading logs. My daughter hated the reading logs. And she WASN”T a reader. They were a waste of time. As most of her homework was. My husband and I did NOT care about her grades, still don’t. As long as we know she is doing her best, that is all that matters. She and School do not compute. I cannot home school and she would hate it. Right now it is just a matter of getting thru HS. Sad.

    Like

  17. As a reading teacher, I dislike reading logs, too. I have been teaching for close to 30 years, and back in my early years I discovered that reading logs are unnecessary and do not promote the love for reading. Neither do they encourage struggling readers to read more. There are many more creative ways to get kids hooked. Class and mini group discussions over what is happening in the story…2 minute skit, puppet show, song sharing the conflicts or climax of the book… What you will see is the kids reading when they have spare time. I had a boy one year, who was a struggling reader (due to interest) and who had trouble staying focused. As the year progressed, he decided to read Bill Wallace, A Dog Called Kitty, after listening to a small group share. He was an instant lover of everything Bill Wallace. The librarian had to order more of his books. Soon this boy was found reading on the bus, instead of other disruptive antics. This boy also raved during the reading shares that his classmates also followed along and in the library we started finding many books and authors had waiting lists for students favorites. I also had numerous display boards where students could pin up book critiques and give stars… I noticed that many kids would check these boards before going to the library. Teachers, please do yourself, your students, and parents a favor and save paper by trashing reading logs.

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  18. You said, “Teachers, my kid doesn’t want to constantly track, track, track. And my kid doesn’t want to constantly be tracked, tracked, tracked.” As a licensed reading specialist and 3rd grade classroom teacher, I agree with you. Guess what? I don’t want to constantly track your child. I know my students don’t want to be constantly tracked. The problem is the school district, and most states, are requiring teachers to do so much tracking that we almost literally have no choice in the matter.

    As a child, I also was an avid reader, and was required to do nightly reading , and for a while came to despise that reading. I was allowed to give it up, and my love of reading came back. Teaching students today is not what it was even 10 years ago. Back then, teachers had the luxury of being able to deviate somewhat from requirements of daily teaching for students such as your daughter. We could individualize much more back then can we can now. Today, I am required to prove that your child is reading a certain number of minutes each day and each week, and some districts/states require us to prove we are assigning a certain amount of homework nightly. My preference is to assign about 15 mins. of homework and any homework I assign, I have to grade in addition to classwork and tests/quizzes that I assign to be done. I tell my students that I am basically lazy, and don’t want the extra work (since I’m most likely already doing a certain amount of work at home for the class such as lesson planning, online professional development, writing reports and compiling data for the district in order to keep my job), so I give them a reading log to round out the number of minutes of homework I give them. It minimizes the amount of work they have to do nightly, and minimizes the extra work I am giving myself to do, plus, I am able to prove to the district that my students are reading the minimum amount they require each week.

    Please know, I would rather not deal with reading logs. And if you would care to let your school board, your state school board and your state legislators know you don’t care for all the tracking we teachers are now required to do, that might help us all eliminate those dumb reading logs.

    Like

  19. Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers weren’t FORCED to make reading a chore? Sure, as a teacher, I want every child to love reading, but I’m realistic enough to know that the majority of parents won’t bother to do it unless there is a paper trail or a grade attached. My school day isn’t long enough to get in all the practice time that my firsties need, and I don’t think 15 minutes of reading 4 nights per week is too much to ask. You are in for a rude awakening when your child gets to jr. high and high school and has hours of homework each night. Stop trying to keep your child from experiencing real life. School is her job and every job has expectations of some sort, as well as documentation of those expectations. You are doing a disservice to her by teaching her to lie and cheat her way out of it.

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  20. As an educator of 15 years, one of the highlights of teaching is the joy I see in my students as they begin to discover the wonders hidden within good books. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to teach in a classroom where each of my students has the full use of an iPad. This has encouraged me to find creative ways to integrate technology into daily learning while maintaining best educational practices.
    A few years ago, using online forms, I developed a reading log to help my students keep track of their daily reading activity (title, author, genre, pages & minutes read, bar graphs, pie charts). Seeing the pride these emerging readers take in maintaining and monitoring their individual reading logs inspired me to take this idea further and to develop a stand­-alone reading log app for iPhone, iPad, & iPod Touch.
    Originally conceived with students in mind, You-­Log Reading has
    expanded into a feature­ rich reading log app that serves the needs of a broad spectrum of readers.

    If you’d like more info about You-Log Reading, visit you-log.com

    Thanks for the plug,

    Mark Butler
    5th Grade Teacher & Software Developer

    Like

    • I’m going to post this, but please understand that I in no way endorse your product. The intersection of reading and technology is a discussion for another day, but reading logs don’t suddenly become an awesome idea just because kids are doing them on an iPad. Frankly, as a parent, I work hard to limit my kids’ access to technology, and it drives me nuts how an often-lacking-thoughtfulness push for technology IN school undoes the hard work I as a parent put into making sure that my young kids’ screen time is as minimal as possible. Precisely because my big one is a voracious reader, she gets more access to technology, but my little one would spend 20 hours a day on the iPad if I let her. She now gets virtually zero iPad access at home, and I hate how the schools undermine me on this.

      Like

      • Thanks for posting, Sarah.

        My advice to teachers who are on the fence about reading logs is as follows:

        1. Make reading logs optional.
        2. Make them quick & efficient to complete.
        3. Make them relevant to the individual reader.
        4. Give readers ownership & responsibility for maintaining & tracking their own reading logs & data.

        I developed You-Log Reading to help address some of the problems and concerns being discussed by both parents & teachers here..

        1. The chore of logging: With my digital reading log app, kids/parents can scan the bar code of a book, and title, author, book cover, publish date, etc. are automatically retrieved from an online database (Amazon’s API).

        2. Paper management/Losing logs: There is no more paper! All the data is stored on one device. Reports can be customized (based on a teacher’s criteria) & emailed to the teacher as a PDF.

        3. A student’s reading log data is not utilized: You-Log Reading allows kids (and adults) to set a variety of reading goals & then track their progress with colorful graphs & cherts.

        4. Accountability: This is where I have to side with the reading log naysayers.. In my classroom, reading logs are optional! AND, they are the responsibility of the reader to maintain. I have found that 50-60% of the 20-24 students in my 5th grade classroom each year, choose to log their reading- and love to do so! The ones who choose NOT to use reading logs tend to fall into 2 categories: (1) students who are high/motivated/avid readers,and (2) students who are very low, unmotivated readers.

        Thanks!

        Mark Butler
        5th Grade Teacher & Software Developer

        Like

  21. It’s unfortunate how many negative comments are on here. I am a teacher and my main job is to “teach” your children….reading, math, social studies, etc. I spend hours thinking of ways to motivate and help EVERY one of my students and sometimes what I come up with isn’t cookie cutter made for each individual student. It’s hard to accommodate 25 different little people and make something perfect just for them while still making the same assignment perfect for the other 24 kids. Reading logs are there to help the kids read. Boo hoo…you had to sign a paper. It’s not hard. I agree with the comments above to not time your kids if it is such an inconvenience. My question is what did our parents do when we came home with reading logs? They made us do them because that’s what school and the teacher required. Unfortunately it’s another example of parents trying to make everyhing as easy as possible for their children and taking away any challenge found in anything. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t enjoy. I for one don’t enjoy making homework. My school and district requires it. I would Love to not spend time planning what I’m going to have kids work on, make copies, and then have none of it done the Friday it’s due. It’s a waste of my time too when children don’t do it. I get that reading logs suck, and actually I do appreciate this log because now I am realizing that even my good students are more than likely just not doing their homework and lying about it. It’s society today that tells kids their teachers are wrong and don’t listen to them. It’s unfortunate. During a school year I spend more time with these students than their own families and really care about them. And when a parent undermines my authority or tells their children it’s okay to lie to me, it ruins the whole relationship. Again, to each their own. But it’s mostly sad how some of you view education and the people who dedicate their lives to helping your children learn.

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  22. “The ones who choose NOT to use reading logs tend to fall into 2 categories: (1) students who are high/motivated/avid readers,and (2) students who are very low, unmotivated readers.”

    I should add that in the past when I required this first group to log their reading, it was counterproductive! Logging reading interfered with their love of reading. I play the guitar.. If my wife told me he wanted me to log how much time I was playing guitar & what song selections I was playing, I’m quite sure (if I agreed to it!) that this would take the edge off of my passion for playing. (It would also most likely drive a wedge between me & my wife- as I’d question her motives for this strange logging requirement!)

    Requiring my lower/unmotivated students to log their reading was also counterproductive. This would be like my wife asking me to log every time I do laundry! Yeah, her motives here would be fairly transparent!

    Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  23. When my daughter was going into 9th grade, she was told she’d be in Honors English and that required she read a book and do a project based on that book. She chose the writing project and completed it long before school was due to open. She handed it in. When we had report card conferences with our teachers in November, I asked this teacher what grade she’d gotten on the project. “Oh I don’t ever grade those, I don’t even read them. I don’t know these students or their writing styles, so how can I possibly know if they wrote this assignment or you did it for them.?” I was livid! DD had wasted weeks reading this awful book (most of the books on the reading lists are not ones she [or I] would have chosen) and then writing a thesis on it…..what is the benefit of doing it then? Just to be able to say she did it?

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  24. I would raise the question of whether the teacher has any choice in the matter. I teach high school science, so I don’t know for sure. Increasingly, we have very little autonomy regarding our teaching, and it is quite possible that the higher ups in the district require the reading logs.

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  25. I am a teacher of ELA (English Language Arts) and I also hate requiring a reading log. Its a school policy, so I don’t have a choice. However, if a parent tells me that their child is a voracious reader and their reading level is at or above grade level, I simply have a conversation with those parents and say, “Just write down the title of the book she is reading right now and initial it and don’t worry about having her track and write everything down.” They still have to turn the paper in, however, with the rest of the students. If they forget to turn in the paper, I ask the parents to write me an email and confirm that their child is reading. This is my little accountability work-around for those students who are already good, capable readers. However, if the student really needs to practice and WILL NOT read anything unless they are required to, then sometimes (only sometimes) it helps to encourage reading practice. Probably most parents lie about the reading log, but that’s okay, because my lesson plans are fiction written for the benefit of my administration, too.

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  26. I hope you have some sympathy for the teachers. They (we, I should say) are mandated to do inane things in the name of collecting data. I’m glad that your daughter takes something to school “tracking” her reading for the sake of her teacher.

    As for those of you accusing this mom of teacher her daughter to lie. I commend her for doing so. Lying can be a moral choice. In this case, mom has decided that it is so. All-or-nothing thinking about ethics leads to all kinds of problems. I truly commend her.

    Like

  27. Reading logs are not evil. They do have their place in education. However, parents do need to make adjustments to them that fits the needs of their children. Not all children are voracious readers. Some families appreciate the reminder and structure that the reading log provides.

    Like

  28. Timely read for me as I was just thinking about introducing reading logs in my own classroom. The question that begs for me…. have you not talked to your child’s teacher? I, as a teacher, have a diversity of kids and needs. Some kids barely read and need all the motivation or accountability I can give them. Others enjoy recording their time (such as my own son, who is a voracious reader but actually likes to see how much time he logs), and then I have those students who read for sheer enjoyment and achieve above “expectation” on reports. At the end of the day, educating children is a collaboration with parents and school/teacher. I would hope that an open conversation with your child’s teacher could do away with this falsification of a reading log. Teachers are humans and we want whats best for our learners. I hope you can be candid with him/her.

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  29. Teachers who want to foster a love of reading at home can do so right there in school during an ordinary school day. When I was in school (heh – don’t you love it when someone says that?) we did something that no school does anymore. We had story time. Story time happened every day, right after lunch and lunch recess. All the way up through 6th grade! All of us kids were allowed to sit on top of our desks and our teacher read to us for about 15 minutes. That’s all – just reading for the sheer enjoyment of listening to a story. There were no tests, book reports, logs, or literary analysis. It was FUN. We read all kinds of great books – Laura Ingalls Little House series, Anne of Green Gables, Old Yeller, Caddie Woodlawn, Bobbsey Twins, and many many more, including more obscure titles and true-to-life accounts. Speaking for myself, this practice in school set the tone for reading at home. Many times I reread the books we read in school at home. Reading was not a big priority at home. In fact, of all my siblings and parents, I am the one who loves reading. BUT, in school we also had to do the occasional book report, written within certain guidelines, and nothing sucked the joy of reading like knowing I was going to have to stand in front of the classroom and rattle off 3 pages worth of boring details that no one cared to listen to. I’m not saying that kids should never have to write a book report because we all have to do things that aren’t our favorite thing to do, but if you want kids to think reading is fun, then prove it.

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    • Bonnie,
      Teachers reading aloud continues to be a valuable component of literacy and it can be expected in all grades. Jim Trelease (Read Aloud Handbook) provides plenty of reasons to support the practice at school and at home incidentally. The different times of day it happens naturally lead to different outcomes, all purposeful. I just wanted to add that – there are so many benefits to reading aloud to young people that it can happen across a day multiple times and with multiple goals. I brought this up in a posting yesterday here, but the Teachers College Reading Workshop approach has many, many ways to tap into the power of reading aloud as a part of the daily reading life in classrooms.
      For those parents concerned it may not be happening in your child’s classroom, try offering to guest read there if you like! And it also can helps your cause to be aware of Jim Trelease’s research for any doubters who believe that kids outgrow the need for listening to text read aloud 🙂

      Like

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