Recently, the topic of reading logs has come up in discussion and in my reading. This article from The Atlantic Monthly suggests that keeping a reading log can have an adverse effect on a child’s motivation and enjoyment of reading:
During the last several years as a Reading specialist, I used book logs with my small groups. My tracking sheets were stapled to the students’ folders and every Monday, students listed the title of the book they were reading and the page they were on. Very simple. They didn’t log in during the week unless they had finished a book and were starting a new one. Each Monday, the kids totaled the number of pages they had read the previous week. By viewing their logs, I could easily identify the type of book they were reading and the volume of reading they were doing each week. I offered no rewards, but when I saw that a student was slacking off, it enabled me to intervene and find out why. Most of the time the student simply didn’t like the book. No problem.Together we worked to find a “just-right” book and help the student get back on track. At the end of the quarter, we totaled the number of books read. With this data in hand, I was able to have a meaningful conference with each student and help him to set realistic goals in terms of quantity and types of books he may want to read going forward. At the end of the year, most of these struggling readers had not only read about twenty-five books, but had also explored various genres and authors, broadening the scope of their reading.
The best part of our reading log was the enthusiasm of the kids every Monday. As soon as they entered my room, they would ask for their folder and eagerly log in. I believed this tangible record of their reading spurred them on, contributed to their conversations about books and helped them see themselves as readers. I believe that this consistent process played a huge role in the number of books they read during the school year. It goes without saying that they were quite proud of themselves and had good reason to feel that way. Each student left my class with a list of books they wanted to read over the summer so I can only hope that these children had made the transformation from struggling reader to lifelong reader.
Of course, in many cases, logging in minutes read each night, having parents sign a log, assigning meaningless tasks and associating them with reading, has the potential to steal the joy from reading and result in reading being viewed as just another assignment. That is the last thing most parents, kids, and teachers want.
Where do you stand on this issue? Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child if you believe the system his teacher is using has a negative effect. Teachers don’t know unless you tell them. Sometimes, when a teacher and parent work together to tweak an assigned task, the results are far better. A child with a positive approach to reading gains long-lasting benefits. Be it a book log or any other issue, remember the importance of enthusiasm and joy and address minor situations before they squelch your child’s positivity.
City Garden by Dyanne DiSalvo Ryan: September 21st is International Peace Day. In keeping with that, this picture book makes a delightful read. It’s the story of how a community comes together to transform an ugly plot of ground into a beautiful garden. Memorable characters, exquisite prose, and wonderful illustrations all lead to an ending that will touch your heart. Snag this from your library and enjoy a family read-aloud on September 21st.