Teachers have been using reading logs as reading homework for a very long time now. I was told as a first-year teacher that I had to use them, and I believed they were the best way to track a students’ reading. It took me a few years of teaching AND becoming a parent of a school-aged child to realize that reading logs didn’t provide the value I believed they did. Here is some info about why reading logs don’t work and what we can do instead.
Reading Logs: The Teacher’s Perspective
Does this sound familiar?
You give a student a reading log on Monday. Each night they have to read for “whatever” minutes and write their start and end time on their log, as well as some other information about the text they read. In addition, parents have to sign it. The next morning you walk around and check to make sure reading logs are filled in and signed. If they aren’t signed or filled in, it is assumed the student didn’t read.
So, if a reading log is signed, does that mean your student actually read? If it isn’t signed, does that mean your student didn’t read? If they did read, what was the quality of the text? Did they really understand it? When it all comes down to it, a reading log is just a piece of paper that gives us no real information about how a student is doing as a reader. I think it is safe to say that reading logs do not provide a teacher with any real information about their students.
To learn how to make reading homework more meaningful, click here.
Reading Logs: The Home Perspective
Even the best and most motivated readers don’t want to read every day. My daughter is a highly motivated reader that will sit all day with a book if she has the opportunity. However, there are days when she wants to paint a picture, play with friends, ride her bike, or just relax and watch a movie. On these days, if I asked her to stop what she was doing and go read for thirty minutes, she would do it, but would not be happy about it. Simply by making it a requirement, I’ve sucked the joy out of her reading time. As a parent, this is not how I want my child to feel about reading a book.
The Potential Damage
- Reading Logs turn reading a book into a task. I don’t know about you, but when I am forced to read something, I HATE it! I like to read when I want to, and that is it. Why shouldn’t we expect the same of our students? If we force students to read every night for a set amount of time, we are taking the fun out of reading. We are making reading a book a chore instead of a choice. (stay with me, I have a solution for this)
- Reading has a time-frame with a reading log. Now that reading is a task, it also has a time frame. Students aren’t just picking up books and reading until they are ready to stop. More than likely, if a reading log is involved, students are setting a timer or watching the clock. If you ask them to read for thirty minutes (assuming they are actually reading), that is how long they will read. Not a second longer.
What’s the REAL Goal?
We want our students to read regularly and enjoy reading. Also, we want students to read quality texts and understand what they have read. Ideally, we would like students to develop habits that allow them to grow into life-long readers.
How can we accomplish these goals? There are two possible options.
- Teachers can help educate parents on how to promote good reading habits at home. Yes, it is up to the parent to encourage their child to read. All you can do is guide them. Kind of the same way a dentist can encourage us to brush our teeth twice a day, but can’t actually come to our house and force us to do so.
- Teachers can use a better tool for reading homework to help ensure a small amount of quality reading is being accomplished every night. Here are some free samples of highly effective reading homework.
You can find a post about Making Reading Homework Meaningful, right HERE!