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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: Our own hot topic

June 24, 2008

I've written twice before about reading logs: back in August 2007 with "Reading logs, reading blahs" and then again in April 2008 with "Should reading with parents count?"

Those two posts have sparked lots of comments, all of which carried valid points about the purposes and pitfalls of reading logs.

"Mom in super school district" wrote that her daughter's class reading log turned reading from "reading for pleasure" to "reading-for-words-until-I-read-long-enough" (which is exactly what was happening with Molly).

Jen and A.M., both teachers, feel that reading logs help families recognize the value of reading every day; the log is little more than a reminder to read. And thankfully, many commented that at their school, being read to and reading with a family member "counts" toward their time.

Both Jen P and Mark H took issue with the way I handled our own reading log situation, which was to just stop doing it. They reasoned that by doing so, I am teaching Molly to defy her teacher's expectations, implying that it's okay to "opt out" of assignments you don't want to do.

First, let me say THANK YOU for commenting. I read every comment that comes in, and I love your differing perspectives and opinions. It's one of the things I hope this blog encourages.

Second, it's clear that reading logs are as different as the teachers who assign them (and the kids who have to use them). And maybe that's the way they should be used (when they're used) — individually. It's clear within my own family that kids are individuals. What motivates Molly is clearly NOT what motivates Anna.

Here's an idea: What about differentiated reading logs? Thoughts or comments? What would they look like?


great post! by any chance, does anyone know of any hard statistics about just how prevalent reading logs are? we have reading logs in our district, but I'm just curious if there have been any empirical studies on reading logs.

As a middle school teacher and parent,I have a really hard time getting my avid reader sons to fill out the log that we try to keep track of. As a teacher, I had reading log bookmarks for several months, but I'm not tired of readying poor quality responses. Now I'm trying to make or find a bookmark where they can just record the pages read. I think if the record is kept IN the book, there's a better chance of actually filling it out. Having to respond to every reading is a sure way to kill the love of reading for SOME kids.

This is to Nancy.. Nancy,I too teach 3-5 gifted and would love to get your ideas on your reflections for student responses and hear more how you run your reading log. I only get my kids 3 hours a day 2 times a week. They all get bussed to me at one particular school. My main subjects iare science/math for them but would love to integrate a way to hold them accountable with their reading and have them learn about good books from each other..

I have taught 3-5 grade classes for highly gifted students for several years and have always required reading logs. I feel that differentiation is present because my students have the freedom to choose their own books, magazines or newspapers. This fall I will be experimenting with reading logs that involve students emailing or using our district's "gaggle" to send in their reading reflection. My students do not seem to complain much about the reading log. I do read the logs and comment on the books my students read and mention interesting books in class so other students will find out about them. At the beginning of the year I model filling out the reading log and send home a list of prompts to help with the reflection. They only need to write 2-3 sentences each night. I think if parents approach reading logs positively, then students will be positive as well. I would be concerned about a student who did not complete this homework assignment. Also, I would be somewhat disappointed in the parent that supported just not doing the work because the student did not like the assignment. What is the student really learning from this approach?

Thanks for the comment, Kerry! I like the model you use for family signatures and your recognition that it's the bigger picture of reading that matters!

As a teacher and a parent, I fully understand the value of reading at home. BUT when it comes to documenting evidence on a Reading Log I had to combine what I liked and disliked about a Reading log as a parent and as a teacher. My fifth graders only have to get ONE signature a week. (As a parent, I thought it was overwhelming to sign my son's log every night.) IF they manage to get five authorized family signatures (5 weeks) and turned in on the first day they are due, they have shown responsibility and are no longer required to get a signature. My students are 'requested' to read 30 minutes a night but with busy schedules, interruptions, and emergencys that can happen sometimes no reading can be done so they are asked to put in some extra minutes the following day or when they can. I do not expect the reading log to be filled every day. This leads to non-truths about reading which leads to not reading at all. This works much better for my students who are not pressured and for me!

I am going to have to go back and read those two blog enteries. I am so with you. I was so bad at keeping up my sons reading journal that I did stop them...yes, probably bad example but my son loves to read and be read to too! I never knew if I should record the time he read out loud to us to work on fluency and the time he read silently and the time we read to him...because these were activities we do nightly and spend 1-2 hours on nightly...Part of our bedtime ritual...better than watching TV.Thank you for letting me know I am not alone. I was told that I as a parent shouldn't be the one recording should be the student recording it. Well I think it is a bit excessive since and difficult to do since he has DEAR (drop everything and read time at school) and just the reading they do outloud at class and at tudoring. I think it is a bit hard to keep track and really what is the point? The child is clearly a reader. Also, the setting goals is fine for a child who doesn't like to read and has to force themselves to read.

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"Reading is not optional." —

Walter Dean Myers