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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Reading logs, reading blahs

August 29, 2007

Many of us are back to school by now. And for most of us, that means daily reading logs, where a parent signs a log each night confirming that her child has read at home that day. For us, we're on day five, and we're already a little bored.

In the spirit of starting the year off on the right foot, here are a few ideas (hopes? hints?) for teachers and parents that may make reading logs more useful, interesting, and exciting.

I'd love to hear from teachers and parents about reading logs — what has worked for you, and what hasn't?
[list]

[*]Make sure kids have access to good books. School, classroom, and public libraries are all good resources. When possible, kids should be able to check out and return books more frequently than once a week.

[*]Evaluate your reading log. Does the structure of it place unnecessary value on pages read? Minutes read? Ask yourself what you value about reading and whether it's reflected on your form.

[*]Use reading logs as a way extend exposure to an author or illustrator being studied at school. Consider providing a list of books by the same author or illustrator.

[*]Make sure parents know and use some variation of the five finger or the Goldilocks rule for difficulty. The reading done at home should be at a child's independent level (95-100% accuracy).

[*]Is there an interesting science or social studies unit going on in the classroom? Help kids find good books on related themes (example here) to keep the school conversation happening at home too.

[*]Honor the work the kids are doing by reading at home. Engage them in a conversation about what they've been reading, what they've liked and what they didn't.[/list]

Comments

For our elementary-school-aged daughter, reading logs have usurped the pleasure of reading. Period. Explaining to teachers that reading logs convert reading-for-pleasure into a timed event for our child is certainly awkward, as they expect 100% compliance. In September, reading promptly becomes reading-for-words-until-I-read-long-enough. In the short summer that follows, I help her habituate to reading for pleasure. Then the pleasure’s out the window again in September for another 10 months. It is wonderful that other children view reading logs as goals, or as diaries on which to reflect. Still, other children likely wouldn’t read almost daily if it weren’t for reading logs, and certainly this exercise forces improvement in such reading components as fluency. Cultivating a life-long reading habit for our child, however, is worth facing her teachers about the reading logs. When she’s not “reading for the reading log,” she reads all kinds of stuff interesting to her. We notice improvement along several dimensions. We do realize that school administrators must demonstrate their compliance with these current trends in reading, particularly when such trends are related to No Child Left Behind. Our bottom line: Remain child-centered, and resist applying research-based evidence as if the conclusions apply to every singular child in the bell curve.

I am a first grade teacher who has a weekly reading log that I hand out. At this early age it is important that the children get into a routine of reading every night. There are some parents who did not know that they were supposed to be doing this and need the log to serve as a reminder. I don't feel like a piece if a paper that asks for the stories read at home and who was reading them takes the fun out of reading. It serves as a way to discuss reading and helps the children to see that school and home are making sure that they are learning and caring that they be the best reader they can be!

After reading the responses and other factors of your site I still have the same question. What "real" value does the reading log have? Now I am not asking for the response "because it is used to determine a child's ability to comprehend what they read". I am asking what is the value? The child reads at home, the parent has to sign a tracking form, "reading logs", and then the student turns in the paper so the school can justify their policy of the reading log. Now if the child does not turn in the reading log, they "fail" that portion of the class regardless if the student if getting A's throughout the course they still fail the class because a reading log id a tracking form for the school in not turned in. Now comes the penalty--the child fails, not because he/she is stupid or unable, the grades on tests and class work show that they are capable, they fail because of a meaningless piece of paper that is used to justify a specific program for the school. The background research on reading logs is, to say the least, varied in the interpretation of it true value which would lead a parent to question why it is being processed as a grade rather than a supporting document to suggest why the student is not doing well in a class.

I have had a similar frusration with reading logs that someone previous posted. The reading logs have turned reading into such a chore. She loves to read and write and reads a high level. I believe they are not right for all children. Some kids seem to take to it so well, and others really struggle with it. If they are reading every night, then is it really necessary? She is even willing to write a paragraph on what she has read as long as she doesn't have to record day, time and number of pages.

I have a 13 year old son that reads on average 1 hour per day. He has been doing this since second grade. He loves books and gets so excited about books. Reading logs have been the bane of his existence. In fact, last year, he received a "C" on one because the teacher didn't see where I had initialed his summaries. His accelerated 7th grade language art teacher has just brought back the "reading log". Tonight he said, I want to read but then I'll have to log. To make it worse, since he is known to be a voracious reader, he feels pressure to live up to his reputation. I feel like petitioning my congressman to outlaw reading logs.

Reading logs are required at our middle school. Our department chair insists on using them even though all other teachers know that they are counter-productive and alienating most of our studetns. One person with veto power overrules the combined common sense of all the other teachers and teaches our students to hate reading.

I just love reading everyone's comments - thank you for sharing your experiences, and keep 'em coming! We've done our own silent revolt against reading logs at our house--we just don't do it. The form is in Molly's folder every day, and every day we ignore it. Then, Molly grabs her favorite book and reads for far longer than her log would suggest she should. Report cards come home next week; I'm interested to see whether there is any comment about her lack of homework. I doubt I'll be able to keep this up as she moves through school, but at least for now, it's working for us.

I was looking online for advice/opinions about reading logs and was not surprised by the responses here.As a teacher, I can respect the views of most responses, however, Joanne, I am bothered by the fact that it seems like you have not communicated this with the teacher. To just have Molly not do the assignment is teaching her to defy her teacher's expectations. The situation would be better handled, in my opinion, if you were to print out the above response (as well as try to find any researched based support) and bring it to Molly's teacher.Thank you all for your insightful responses.

I am a PhD student currently doing an independent study course in YAL and came across this blog while researching reading logs, a tool many of my fellow teacher-students employ in their courses and of which they speak highly. From the comments here, I ascertain my peers are on a different page about this tool. To be fair, I believe that what my cohorts term "reading log" is actually a reading reflection journal, thus a significantly different assessment tool. However, I am somewhat puzzled as to the resistance to the title/date/pages read log. Are the titles to be read assigned? If not, I am unsure why recording what the student read for pleasure, as several posts referenced, is a stumbling block. Why is simply recording what one has accomplished an impediment to that accomplishment? It seems to me little different from punching out of work at the end of the day. Annoying, yes, but ultimately beneficial. I must also agree with Jen P regarding non-compliance with the assignment. I am certainly a Thoreau fan and beleive in "civil disobedience" when it serves a purpose--I often nudge my own college level students to challenge unjust imposititions-- but non-compliance with a reading log doesn't seem to fit the bill here. I also have serious concerns about the model of teaching a child to simply "opt out" of something he/she just doesn't want to do. As a college teacher, I see the negative impact of such thinking on post secondary education. At that level, not doing an assignment just because a student does not like it results in no score and often course failure. There, parents can't simply argue with the professor until the assignemt is dropped or changed--FERPA and other laws make the student responsible for himself/herself. Further, most of us must accomplish tasks regularly we don't like, whether its washing the dishes, taking out the trash, or filling out a ten page report at the office. Imagine the results of choosing not to do such tasks. Habits learned early often stick for life, and I encourage parents to give thought beyond a simple reading log to the broader implications of perhaps undue resistance. By the way, I am a parent who has seen two sons through a public school system, reading logs and all, and at 17 and 20, they do not appear to have been negatively impacted by the experience.

As a teacher and a parent, I see the overall relevance of reading logs. Not all parents are fortunate enough to have children who enjoy reading for pleasure...at least initially. Not all students have parents who insist that their children read...log or not. I do see that for a parent who's child enjoys reading anyway, a log is pointless. However, for parents of children who wouldn't read unless it was assigned for homework (or it was a daily fight)...it does serve a purpose. I personally assign reading logs not only to require students to read but also to hold parents accountable for engaging in their child's education. (And then I still have parents who don't pay attention to what is on the log...they just sign them....unfortunate. But that isn't the majority.)

I would like to respond to Mark H. Although I understand and to some extent agree with your assessment regarding the "opt out" approach, I too have had to find a way to deal with this issue with my daughter. I did talk to the teacher at length and my daughter has tried many different approaches to this reading log. I don't think we do want to teach our children to just not do it, but at the same time if it is really causing an issue with such a fundamental thing as reading, I too would "opt out". I trust that Joanne handled it in a way that was appropriate. I think we can teach our child that just because someone is in charge it does not mean they are right. When you feel very strongly about something like this, it does seem like the correct solution. If it is an isolated incident (meaning one allows their child do avoid anything they dislike) then it could be a beneifcial approach. I have simply said to my daughter that Miss J is your teacher and she is a good teacher, but on this particular issue we don't agree and we want to work something out so that learning is still fun. In fourth grade I really feel this is important. I was not the only parent (there were at least 6) that had this issue. The teacher would not budge or compromise. What I have observed with my child is that she finds the transition from a right brain like activity to a very left brain activity difficult. She also feels judged and that it won't be enough. This has alot to do with how the teacher handles it in the classroom, of course. Having to take write down time and pages was very tedious. I think writing a response to the reading once week is very useful, but recording that information is crazy! Once this summer came my daugter got 3 books from the libray, made a bood mark that said I love reading, reading is great and got to it! Something she did not do during the school year and kept saying she hated reading.. so that is enough evidence for me!

I teach grade one students. We don't have reading logs for home. I send home an easy read each night with my students. I also have the students reflect on his or her reading from the night before. Sometimes it is a book that they have had read to them or one they have tried on their own or the easy read that I sent home with them. I feel this developes choose, credibility and high interest without a meaningless paper trail. This paper trail is often forgoten or lost. The reading experience is often not.

My 7 yr old son just came home from his 3rd week of school and had a complete meltdown due to the wonderful "reading log" that was in his folder, and the note on his daily schedule that showed he MUST read for at least 30 minutes per day! I consider myself and my husband to be among the best of parents in this particular classroom, as most of the children come from broken homes and have parents that are unstable half the time. I volunteered in my son's class last year for a full day each week, helping (not my son, but)the children that were behind on an individual basis. I, too, feel like the reading log takes all the fun out of it, and has turned my really easy going, fun loving, happy go lucky kid into a basket case! I don't want to teach him to rebel and not do it, so I have made copies of the log, and will insist that his teacher NOT put it in his folder from now on. Instead, I will fill out the logs on a weekly basis, but it will be with the books that we have actually read, and the amount of time we spend will vary, depending on the other things going on in our lives at the moment! (We own a medical practice, and are in the office until 7 or 8 pm 3 nights per week, so if we don't get to it, I won't sweat it... we will just make it up on the weekend, on OUR time, and on OUR terms!) This way, our son will not feel so overwhelmed, and will still think he's just doing it for fun!

As a teacher I appreciate this discussion. I am not a parent and homework has always been a question on my mind. I don't know what it's like to have to do homework with a child. I do not send home reading logs this year, but I have in the past. I have started to rethink them after reading all the posts. However, I am really upset by the parents who have commented on this site who are going against the teacher's homework decisions. I find that you are teaching your children to disobey authority figures and make up their own rules. I work very hard to make sure my students learn and it makes things a lot harder when I have to work against parents instead of with them. I urge you to discuss your concerns with your child's teacher instead of making decisions for the teacher and their classroom.

This discussion is very interesting to me because my daughter does NOT have a reading log assigned from school. One of her homework assignments is to read for 15 min/night (not much, I know... but it's 1st grade). I found this page when searching for reading log printouts that she can use to track her reading at home. I just talked to her about it, and we are going to start a binder for reading. I printed a log that has space for date, title, and author. I'm going to write that, then when she finishes a book she's going to write a summary of it and whether or not she liked it (and why). I don't see it as a huge problem, and she's actually excited to do it. I think it'll be good to be able to look back at what she's read, and will serve as a helpful tool in selecting more books for her. I also told her that we can have a section of the binder where we put ideas of books she might like to read... then we'll have it as a resource at the bookstore, library, etc.Is it simply the idea of it being an assignment that makes some kids so resistant to it? My daughter loves to read. I discussed the log as a way to keep track of what she's read and when, and she didn't have any problem understanding that it is a positive thing.

I am a teacher, too, and have had many conversations with parents. Frankly, I can see where some parents are coming from, but on the other hand, how can I get students to extend their learning? We talk about many reading concepts in class, from predicting and visual images, to author's craft. The kids I see liking the logs the least are the kids who simply record their reading, and not summerizing, but retelling the story in too much detail. For kids doing individual reading, I conferenced with students about their reading. We had students give an informal book talk about their reading. Students who tried to reach beyond retelling, made judgements and developed opinions were more interesting and created more excitement. For reading groups, I teach 4th and 5th grades, and want my students to think critically when they come to book group. Is there another way to record thinking other than logs?

I am currently teaching second grade, but have also taught third. I do use a reading log for a few reasons. The main reason, that has been stated in some other comments, is that some parents do not make it a priority for their children to read. This reading log does serve as a reminder to the kids as well as the parents that this is an important part of improving reading; both fluency and comprehension. A second purpose for having my students keep a reading log is that we are required to keep them in their assessment folders to show that they are reading. Reading logs can also be motivating for some students. My students get excited when they fill one up and they can get a new one. Others who read longer books are excited when they finish a book and can check that they finished it on their log. I do understand where the frustration comes in though. I have some students who were not reading for fun anymore - they focused on how many minutes they had read. I modified their reading logs to make it a fun way of keeping track of the books they've read. Reading should be fun. I do not think there is an ultimate solution. Some kids need to log in every night to keep track. Other kids should be able to keep a record of books they have finished - journal or log form. This should be a decision that the child's teacher makes with collaboritve input from the parents.

As a parent and teacher I really don't see what all the complaining about reading logs is all about. If a child doesn't normally read, a log can help to ensure that some reding practice occurs. If your child already reads at home, wonderful! There is no reason why filling out a log is going to "to take all the fun out of it". Taking a couple of minutes to write done time or pages isn't a big deal. However, I have learned as a parent and teacher, YOUR attitude is nearly always reflected in your child's attitude. Change your attitude to a positive one rather than a do I have to do this and watch your child's character grow. You whine, so will your child.

If the biggest problem you and your child have is filling out a reading log, consider yourself blessed. If the teacher was not looking at the reading logs or discussing them, it was probably because she was tired of listening to people whine about such a simple task. I do not think allowing children to get what they want by falling apart is doing them any favors. Helping these kids rise up to challenges and take some responsibility would be far more helpful in my opinion.

I happened upon this site as I searched the internet today, looking for ways to help your children be successful students and readers. I rarely respond to comments that I come across; however, reading your angry, frustrated respones reminded me of MY own frustration with students and families who disregard the expectations of schools and teachers. I work very hard both in the classroom, as well as the countless hours of my own time, planning for and monitoring the progress of my students. I do not ask students to complete work that is pointless or unimportant. Research-based evidence demonstrates the importance of lots of time to read. Students need to read more than the time we have in a school day. Period. Yes, some children read more than they are expected to, however the reality is that the majority of students in a classroom do not read at all, unless required to.A "log" serves different purposes: 1. It is a place to keep track of what you have read. It's so great to look back and see how much you've accomplished. 2. It also serves as a way of monitoring our reading and to help us set our personal reading goals. 3. It is a way to progress monitor students who are struggling readers. If a student is reading a lot, as evidenced by the log( among other things)and not making adequate progress, then we have documentation we need to continue with interventions. 4. It is a starting point for book discussions, and practicing reading strategies we have done in class. I am concerned with the message YOU are sending to your children... That it doesn't matter what you are asked to do, if you don't like it you can do what you want to. I'm sure that is great work ethics you are teaching. I am trying to teach your children to be responsible and accountable for things that we are expecting them to do. Thanks for listening. Happy Reading!

I have taughtpreschool through sixth grade for over 40 years and have used a myriad of reading logs/journals/reflections for both home and in-school reading. If teachers are requiring home reading as part of homework, and having it replace other homework, they may need to account for that to their superiors. So try to work with the teacher to find a way to make it less onerous for the good readers. I like to give a bookmark at the start of each new book, on which I record the start and end dates. Bookmarks are turned in for a variety of things: bonus points; substitutes for a missing assignment; extra in-class reading time; etc. I also meet with each student individually to orally reflect on their reading.For in-class independent reading time, I am accountable for it being used effectively. Some students may just stare at a book, or read a book at an inappropriate level.I use a Relection Log with open-ended sentences that require students to reflect upon their own reading strategies. I currently teach classes of struggling readers who do not choose reading as an activity, nor do they read at home for a variety of reasons. They need guidance to reflect upon their reading - to do the kinds of mental things that good readers do automatically. I have to justify the value of substituting independent reading time for reading instruction time. So meet with your child's teacher if you have a problem and ask her to explain her reasons for requiring a log. See if you can negotiate a compromise. But please teach your child that while some requirements in life are tedious (forms for time and effort, taxes, medical records, applications, reimbursements, etc.), they will be part of her life forever.

A funny thing happened at school last year. Our principal assigned a book to all the staff to read and discuss during staff meetings. I LOVE to read. I go through three or four novels a week. Well, guess what. I could never crack that book open! I would bluff and blunder my way through meetings. What have I learned? Anything becomes not fun as soon as you HAVE to do it. I finally forced myself to read the book at the end of the year. Are we teaching our kids that they don't have to do what they don't want to?

Diane: Thanks for sharing your story! I'm dying to know, what book did your principal assign? Did you end up liking it?

I am the mother of 7 and teach middle school reading. For the life of me, I do not understand the problem with a reading log. The students that have them, are the students that need the practice to improove in reading. We put ours on the frig and make a BIG deal about it. If I find a student that hates reading, I make it a challenge to find something this child enjoys, and find a book about that subject. The reading log isn't the problem, it is the attitude of parents that don't want to bother with helping educate their children. We have to be a team, parent and teacher. Both must be on the same page for students to respect the requirements. Help us, help your child!

I teach 6th and 7th grade reading. I raised three kids, and I too Hated reading logs. I teach in a school where I have 80 sixth graders and today for our first marking period only 9 of them made their reading goal. Homework every night is 20 minutes of reading. Obviously it's not being done. I don't want to whip out the reading log, and god knows I break my behind and give 150% everyday, i'm at work 2 hours late every night to ensure that I have great lessons for my students, that are engaging. I spend $500. per year making sure my classroom library has great books, is it too much to ask for parents to have their child read to them for 20 minutes, or ensure that their child is reading. Not all parents do that, what would the dissenters suggest for the kids who don't have parental support, that they not read, and continue to languish in the bottom percentile of readers?

As a kindergarten teacher we are encouraging our students to read on a daily basis. We receive students that are already reading and others that are just now learning the basics of reading. We recently introduced a school wide reading program that encourages daily reading. The students take home a book each day and read it and list it on a reading log. The log is used to monitor the students reading. The parents at our school just love this program and the reading levels of our students are improving due to the additional exposure. The log facilitates this program and demonstrates to both parent and child the impact of daily reading. The log encourages participation and the students are eager to show me how many books they are reading.

I teach 4th grade reading and am currently using reading logs. I do not assign any written homework, so I expect my students to read at home. For the past five years I have used Accelerated Reader's computerized word count to keep up with the amount each student was reading.Thirty percent of their grade was based on how much they were reading at home. This system worked well for five years; my students were reading more than ever, they were improving skills, and enjoying it. However, this year a handful of parents complained about the use of AR as part of the grade,and I have been forced to use a reading log instead. It is not nearly as effective or as objective. I think most parents initial it without really knowing if their kids have read. Has anyone else tried using AR as a portion of their reading grade? If so, how did it work? Thank you for input!

I have read all the comments with great interest because I have just completed a study on the effect of reading logs on intrinsic motivation to read. I’m currently a high school junior in New York, and have had the blessing to live in a district with one of the strongest behavioral/social science research programs in the country. I've been a voracious reader since elementary school, a self-described bookworm, if you will. However, many of my friends don’t share my sentiments - they regard reading as a boring, obnoxious chore. And none of them looked back on reading logs fondly; in fact, I would say around 9 out of 10 of my peers outright lied on their reading logs. I myself lied - even though I read for hours at a time, I didn't care to actually log it right after (I read in bed, and most times I fell asleep reading at night), so when the log was due at the end of the week, I would make up numbers (I rarely remembered how long I had read that week - time flies when you read!). However, things started to come together when I took AP Psychology. We learned about motivation and the overjustification effect, which states that external motivators decrease intrinsic motivation. With that, my research advisor and I began to flesh out the beginnings of a real project on motivation and reading. As I quickly learned from reading background literature, motivation lies at the heart of reading. Specifically, it is intrinsic motivation, or the pursuit of an activity for internal satisfaction of the activity in itself, that strongly predicts time spent reading, reading ability, enjoyment, interest, and attitudes. In addition, another theory of motivation, called the Self-Determination theory, states that individuals require a sense of autonomy (defined as the ability to choose one’s own actions) in order to be intrinsically motivated. However, because reading logs are external motivators, and because they strip away children’s sense of autonomy (they are unable to choose how long they read for, and when they want to read), I hypothesized that reading logs would decrease interest and attitudes towards reading. I used 2nd and 3rd grade students from two local elementary schools, and teachers were randomly assigned to give either mandatory reading logs or voluntary reading logs. Mandatory reading logs required that children read for at least 20 minutes each night, while voluntary reading logs were given to children and were entirely optional. I gave students a survey measuring motivation in October, and then surveyed them again in two months to measure any changes. My results were surprisingly concurrent with my hypotheses. I found that interest in reading decreased in the mandatory log condition, and interest increased in the voluntary log condition. The differences in interest between the mandatory and voluntary reading logs were statistically significant, p < 0.05. Attitudes towards recreational reading decreased in the mandatory condition, and increased in the voluntary condition. These differences were also statically significant. The increases in interest and attitudes were probably a result of increased reading proficiency over the two month period during which the study was conducted. Another explanation may be that teachers in the voluntary reading log condition may have made more of an effort to frame reading as a fun activity, although that would simply suggest that there are better ways to promote reading than through reading logs. The decline in interest and attitudes, on the other hand, was probably a result of a decrease in intrinsic motivation. These results strongly suggest that reading logs erode children’s intrinsic motivation to read. This has real consequences for children’s reading future, especially at a time when reading faces competition from computers, TV, and cellphones. I am entering this project in the Long Island Science and Engineering fair, and hope to spread the word about these results to change the opinions of elementary school educators.

Sarah, What a fantastic idea for a study--I would love to see more such studies to replicate your findings. Where can I find all the particulars of your study--methodology, questionaire, findings, etc?

I myself am an 8th grade student. My teacher also enforces reading logs! Me and my whole team of peers agree that reading logs are a waste of time. The reason we see it from our perspective is that, if we are truly MOTIVATED, we will read for pleasure, otherwise we get all we need in school. "More school helps our children earn a better education," doesnt do us any good. It keeps us from better things like speech and communication skills with our friends, sports and health wellness with outdoor sports that we will soon have almost no access to. Most kids would do reading logs if we didn't feel like we were being pressed for them, it sounds like a job we are assigned and can never get out of. (I personally ONLY do my reading logs because ill fail my magnet program if i don't, therefore i read one page and write two sentences on that.) If you as parents and teachers had the minds that you do now and were forced to perform an unnecessary job would you do it? of course not, unless you enjoyed doing it! My father always told me "if your going to work, work on something you ENJOY doing." Reading logs and Homework make us feel like we are under reign of the teacher and its NOT FUN, its NOT ENJOYABLE, its NOT WORTHY OF OUR TIME! Parents are not benefiting from the logs either. They wont get involved. They will get involved if it really has an impact on their child. Signing a paper to let them know that their child read for an extra 30 minutes of what they do all day at school is not worth taking the time to stress over. Why not try a creative debate or discussion in class that ACTUALLY relates to us and our now and future lives... Books are ideas of other written for others to explore. Forcing someone to explore will end in a half-hearted adventure. we may possibly enjoy it or we will see it as the most dreadful trip of our lives.

I am in the same school, team and grade as Coral. The teacher is incredibly strict about the reading logs. She promotes one hundred pages a week, and up to two hundred for extra-credit, (one point every twenty pages). In seventh grade, around the middle of the year, the teacher started enforcing reading logs. I have always loved reading, but I am a reader who reads hundreds of pages at a time, and having to stop every twenty or thirty pages subtracts from the quality of the book. I love reading, but I truly think reading logs kill the fun in the activity.

I found this discussion when looking for reader response journal questions. I'm of the belief that reading logs decrease intrinsic motivation and don't like them. This year, however, I taught 2 reading classes that were night and day from one another. One class was full of kids who love to read and ask me for book recommendations based on their favorite authors and genres. The other class is full of kids with various learning disabilities and poor fluency and comprehension. Many of these students were unable to successfully self-select books based on interest or reading ability. They weren't reading at home. My "solution" was to give the class reading logs in the hopes that parents would help make sure they read SOMETHING. I found the log to be more divisive for most of these students. Some of them were motivated when I threw in external incentives, and it was helpful for some of the parents to notice trends about their children's reading habits. For the most part though, it was a joke. I ended up looking the other way when I knew some of them were forging their parents initials, especially when I knew they WERE reading. Whatever motivation most of these students drew from came from intrinsic desires to better themselves. Students wanted to be able to increase their AR book levels and attempt to read entire "chapter books." Their success came from wanting to improve their reading, NOT from logging in their time.Bottom line- if a child already enjoys reading, it's counterintuitive to ask them to prove it and dole out consequences when they forget the paperwork. It's certainly not any better if the child already dislikes reading to attach a written assignment that requires them to remember, every night, to ask an already uninterested parent to sign off that they did their time. You should always consider your actual goal in an assignment. Is it to help a child obtain and enjoy the skill of reading, or is to teach them life lessons about following rules and filling out the very paperwork that we gripe and complain about as adults? Sure, it's a part of life, but if it doesn't NEED to be, why force it?

I teach remedial reading at the 6th grade level. I can give my students the skills to become readers but I don't have the time to practice with them in the classroom. Reading logs help students with the practice part. You don't expect your child to drive without practice, so how can the gain in reading without practice? Reading Logs? That is not important to me! Simply discuss the book with your child or start a book club with books your child is interested in and you will create life long readers.

I am a third grade teacher who found this site as I was searching for information on reading "blogs" instead of logs. In the past, I have passed out a weekly reading log on Friday and it was due the following Friday. Students were asked to read at least a little bit each day and their goal was to try reading a variety of genres. Real-life reading, such as the menu at a restaurant, could be included as part of the log.I understand why many parents do not like reading logs, but the unfortunate reality is that some students won't read at all if it weren't for the log.Has anyone tried using a blog format instead? I'm considering asking the students to sign onto a class blog and write about personal reading 2 times a week. I would give ideas for the entries, but any response to reading would be acceptable. Any thoughts or suggestions on this? Thanks in advance!

Ideas for Reading Log Alternatives:1. Log of title, author, plot and what they learned – Nothing else. If students are having trouble understanding what Plot means, use this as a discussion point in class for all students.a. Electronic submissions to class group on line. Kids love computers. Build on that. They’ll enjoy seeing their own names published on the computer and will enjoy seeing their peer’s names as well. b. Journal format in their own diary type book NOT a form to fill out. Hand written may help some students focus better than others. 2. Remove parent signature requirement – this teaches learned helplessness, nothing more. It teaches the kids that they are responsible not just for someone else’s behavior, but for their parents’ behavior. Not a good idea. The students with uninvolved parents can learn that no matter what they do, they cannot succeed and therefor will give up on the system.3. No punishment for not completing. Reward in private those who do a good job. Make it a one-on-one personal comment of “good job.” Kids will feel good about hearing that what they are submitting online is being read and thought about by someone else, giving them a sense of accomplishment and pride. Do NOT grade. Remember, rewarding in public those who do it and leaving out the ones who don’t IS a form of punishment.4. Provide a list of suggested reading and make it, and the books on it, available to take home. A special section in the library or classroom at the right level, as a possibility.5. Discuss books read each week (or month), for just short of how long the class wants to discuss. Always leave them anticipating the next classroom discussion instead of dreading the silence at the end. Ask who in the class enjoyed the books they read and why. Ask the same in reverse. Do NOT mandate inclusion. Make it a class activity where kids can get excited about what they liked and the the other children will follow group mentality and want to read the enjoyed books more. Teacher attitude toward responses is key. The teacher must be happy for those who loved their books and sad for those who didn’t. Make suggestions for future reading to all who participate with reasons they would like the possible books.6. In lower grades, it should be one book per week due to length of the books. Further one, it should be one per month as novels take longer. One per week/month will let the kids concentrate more on the single assignment than on trying to get through it faster. In later grades, reading assignments like this should be limited to ONE teacher in the child’s system.7. Regarding partental involvement: Just because that log isn’t signed, doesn’t mean parents don’t care. Use an online discussion group that is for parents and students, possibly in conjunction with the online reading log, where we can read what you are teaching the kids and see what other children are doing and writing. This will save huge money on print outs being sent home and allow better communication between parents and teachers. For example, FaceBook has group set up where the initiator has full ability to monitor group members and posts. The information on the group and it’s members can be kept private as well. It can be accessed for free from any internet connection. You can post information and electronic copies of forms and handouts that the parents can print out instead of printing them out at the school, adding to cost of printing and adding to landfills as parents toss most of the handouts. Ask for a parent volunteer to set up and/or maintain the premade website if the teacher is unable to do so.

A very interesting discussion. I read comments that gave me cause to think a bit more about the reading log I am about to send home with my Grade 5 students. From what I can gather the issue seems to be the 'reason' for keeping a log in the first place. As a teacher and a parent of 2 school-aged children I believe that reading everyday is vital to overall learning. I will change my approach now and try to make it as family-friendly as possible, while at the same time achieving the outcome I wish to achieve - which is to have students not only reading but thinking about what they read in an effective and purposeful way. Proficient readers are not people who simply finish a book or who are able to read for a sustained period of time. Good readers are people who activley read -that is think about, reflect upon and articulate their thoughts and feelings about a certain text, character, scene etc. Reading should be a pleasant experience and I will try to make it so with my home reading reflections!(I won't even call it a log anymore, how's that?)

Tricia: I'm so glad the post made you think. I'd love to hear how your "home reflections" develop over the course of the year!

I teach in a low income district. Students get little or no help at home from parents regarding homework and especially in the area of reading. I have students fill out a reading log, but many don't seem to care that it is not completed. If I tie an incentive to the task, they cheat or lie about what they have accoplished. The reading log can be a tool, but it can also be a waste of time. Some students and parents are honest, but many are not. It is sad and evident that reading is not taking place at home, especially during times of evaluation. Reading is so important and vital to the success of ones academics, but we must ask ourselves if the reading log is really a tool or a burden.

My son likes to read, but we both HATE reading logs. I DO understand the desire to get the kids to read on their own, but reading logs is NOT the answer for most kids. It is tedious and a real pain in the neck for both student and parent. We have to time their reading. (Oops! forget to check the start time! Oops, got interrupted and didn't keep track of how long the interruption was. Oops! My son read in bed last night, but I don't know what time he fell asleep!) Can you appreciate how this turns reading into a chore??? Sometimes we resort to timing how long it takes to read a page of a given book in order to estimate. Why can't the teacher give out specific reading assignments (or have a collection they can choose from) and spend 5-15 minutes each Friday (or whatever designated day) answers a couple of simple, short questions about what they read? Wouldn't that be a LOT more useful? And it would let the kids enjoy what they are reading and focus on comprehension, not watching the clock. I have 7 children, all with different personalities. All of them at least like to read; 2 are voracious readers. ALL do or would hate reading logs!

If you are not a parent who's had to actually do this, please consider the comments of those who've actually had to do it. My son likes to read, but we both HATE reading logs. I DO understand the desire to get the kids to read on their own, but reading logs is NOT the answer for most kids. It is tedious and a real pain in the neck for both student and parent. We have to time their reading. (Oops! forget to check the start time! Oops, got interrupted and didn't keep track of how long the interruption was. Oops! My son read in bed last night, but I don't know what time he fell asleep!) Can you appreciate how this turns reading into a chore??? Sometimes we resort to timing how long it takes to read a page of a given book in order to estimate. Why can't the teacher give out specific reading assignments (or have a collection they can choose from) and spend 5-15 minutes each Friday (or whatever designated day) answers a couple of simple, short questions about what they read? Wouldn't that be a LOT more useful? And it would let the kids enjoy what they are reading and focus on comprehension, not watching the clock. I have 7 children, all with different personalities. All of them like (or love) to read; 4 are voracious readers. ALL do or would hate reading logs!

Sorry I double posted above. Not sure how that happened. Anyway, one final comment. Can teachers/administrators not see what is happening here? The entire conversation about reading turns into "have we met the minute quota?" instead of "what did you read?", "what did you learn?" and "did you enjoy it?"

Sarah --- you have produced what is probably a publishable piece of work! Nice for a high school junior! And it supports the literature on motivation beautifully. I am a parent of a third grader, and a psych professor whose research interests include motivation. Deci and Ryan's work on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is considered classic in the field -- and has been studied and applied beautifully in elementary school settings. Their research, as well as lots of others, has long confirmed what we all know -- that people will stay with a task for longer periods, and do a better job, if their motivation is intrinsic -- if it comes from within, done through self choice, in an organic sort of way. The FASTEST way to shorten task persistence is to impose requirements externally, as with reading logs. My daughter loves to read, thankfully, and began with the logs in kindergarten. I wasn't too concerned then, not much in first grade, but by second grade I was getting fed up with it. Surely in k and grade one, they could be justified by helping children to establish good reading habits, etc. Now here we are in third grade, and I'm done. I've seen NO evidence that the logs are used for anything other makework. There's no feedback, or even collection of total # of pages read for the semester/year, etc., for the class to collectively pride themselves on. I've searched the ed literature for some evidence that this task improves reading ability, speed, comprehension, or enjoyment, and have found none. In fact, I found this blog when doing my latest review! I'm so glad for it, because the comments of other parents like me let me know that I'm not alone in my dislike of this task. I'm meeting with my daughter's teachers later this week for a p/t conference. I'm going to tell her that, in the absence of some hard evidence that this task significantly improves her literacy skills, we're opting out. I support teachers and the hard work that is done every day and in every way that I can. I also, however, support my daughter's efforts to grow and learn. I therefore cannot continue to sign off on a practice that has no documented evidence behind it, which is also turning my child away from something that she loves.

I was looking for some research that is totally unrelated to this topic and somehow found myself here. This looks to be something that has been discussed over the course of a few years. Since I have read them all, I would like to contribute to this dialogue. I am a parent of a now middle school-aged daughter. She showed no interest in reading as a young student, but I read to her or we we made up our own stories. She showed no signs of anything that might cause concern, so I didn't worry about it. She attended a high achieving elementary school that put a lot of emphasis on high stakes testing. She began completing reading logs and doing AR in kindergarten. By third grade, AR comprehension and points earned were each weighted twice for grading purposes. The teacher also mandated a set number of non-fiction books that had to be read. This continued through 6th grade. A similar type of program is still being required in her first year in middle school. I do not like the use of AR and strongly disagree with grading it on any level. I also disagree that students should even have to read AR books because it limits which books they are able to read. In spite of it all, my daughter loves to read. She is above grade level with a vocabulary of an eleventh grader. She and I often read the same books, so we have some great discussions. More than once, she has recommended books to me that I have not even heard about. Happily, we have also discovered that she is demonstrating a real talent for writing which she credits to some of her favorite authors. My daughter is a highly competent reader not because of what the school offered or required. She learned that reading contributes to her participation in life and also brings enjoyment as a pastime. She grew into becoming a reader because of what she learned at home. I had enough confidence as a parent in that what we were teaching her would be of far greater value in the long term than whatever trivial boxed program was being used at school. Even though I disagreed with some of the practices, no battle was was worth the fight because it really didn't amount to much in the scheme of the world. At this point in my life, I am mature enough to recognize that every single one of us has to "jump through hoops" throughout life for one reason or another. I have taught my daughter that there will always be things in life that are unfair, unnecessary or just flat-out stupid. The secret is in learning to ignore the insignificant ones and be ready to stand up and try to make a change for the better when it is an issue that truly impacts the lives of others, especially children. I am also a passionate and dedicated teacher. I know about the kinds of moms who help out with school parties or volunteer in their child's classrooms so that they can observe and then criticize the practices/actions of the teacher to other parents. After all, they know far more about the broad scope and requirements of teaching than any teacher their child will ever have. Those huddled conversations at the little league games could outmatch most corporate board meetings. Heaven help us all if their child is asked to take a few minutes to record a little information about their reading outside of school. This self centered attitude will serve them well in their parenting efforts. No doubt that they will be proud of their child who, with confidence, will be able to look an instructor in the eye and tell/him her that they do not need to complete an assignment just to prove that they did the assigned out of class readings. They are, after all, intrinsically motivated to read and do not need to account for how much effort they put into the course outside of class. I also want to comment that I admire the work of the young lady who reported her research and findings in an earlier post. She is obviously a bright and gifted student. I have no doubt that she will go on to do incredible things. But, I think I will reserve my understanding of good pedagogical practice to some researchers with more experience. All that being said, I think the efforts and dialogue I have read here prove that there is a lot of energy that could potentially be channeled into something a little more substantial. Participating in efforts to help children who are negatively impacted by an underfunded educational budget and unrealistic expectations of measuring student academic progress couldn't come at a better time. When you get the reading log dilemma solved, please feel free to jump in and help us out as we struggle to provide the best of what we have to give children a compassionate, safe and rigorous learning environment where they have the opportunity to realize their full potential. Who knows, there might be a Louis Pasteur or Thomas Edison sitting in one of our classrooms. And even if there isn't, all children have something important to contriubte to this world. For me, these issues and children truly affect the scheme of the world. Like I said, I don't know how I got here, but hopefully now I can find what what I was looking for in the first place, erase this ridiculous blog, and get back to the buisness at hand.

What happened to the days when kids learned to read in school...not at home? And they were pretty smart, and quite pleasnat too. Not too much kids shooting down teachers and classmates, huh? Personally what books I have in my house is my privacy. I do not like having my kids name on a paper with a list of what he reads at home for a volanteer parent in the PTA to flip through. Are these lists used for surveys for school book vendors, I wonder.

http://www.reading-rewards.com is a great alternative to paper reading logs. Kids log their reading online, and can share book reviews, targets and progress with classmates. Definitely does not take the pleasure out of reading! It is fun, safe and free, and students and teachers alike love it!

Great discussion. As a teacher, I feel pressured to assign reading logs, and sometimes the parents of my best readers are the ones who want them the most. As a parent of readers, I loathed the reading logs - they did all the negative things listed here. It is my hope as a primary elem teacher that if I assign reading logs, and it doesn't work for a child, that family will talk to me about it. Likewise, I would talk to the family about it if the log is not coming back to school completed. If a parent told me the log was ruining the joy of reading, and that student was already above grade level, I'd drop the log requirement. (When we were the parent of the student, we let them read whatever they wanted and whenever, and filled out the logs ourselves. We explained it was important to comply and we listed enough to make the minimum requirement. Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I'd talked to the teacher. That was 10 yrs ago. I'd bring this disc. and comments in with me if I were having that conversation now. )

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