Last weekend S disappeared on Saturday. Don’t panic, I knew where she was, but for all intents and purposes she was lost. Lost in a book that was so good she couldn’t put it down. She had started reading it Friday night before bed, and as soon as we got home from her soccer game, she showered, changed, ate lunch, and pulled up her iBooks account and continued to read; all afternoon. She ignored the dog, her brother, and even her favorite TV show. She read until it was done; all 650 pages of it.
Could I tell you the title? Nope. The reading level? Not a clue. Does it matter to me? Not at all.
What I can tell you is that she was hooked on the series. Sunday after church she came downstairs with her iPad in one hand and a wad of cash in the other and said, “Can you order me the rest of the series? iBooks has them for $6.99 each, but they are only $3.99 on Amazon, so if you order them through Amazon, I’ll pay for them. I told her to keep her money, I’d buy them. So I went online and bought the next three in the series for her, and before the Packers game started at 3:25, she had devoured another 115 pages.
Quality literature? Absolutely not. Even if I could remember the title, I wouldn’t include it because I’m sure someone would take me to task for letting her read young adult material. But I remember that age. I was reading Judy Blume: Forever (You had to have a signed note from a parent to check it out of our middle school library. My mom signed a note, and I let all my friends read it before returning it.), and then Wifey (not sure how I got my hands on that one).
But my point is this. She was reading ALL afternoon, two days in a row! THAT is what a life-long reader does. They read for the pure pleasure of the story.
When it was time to get things together for school on Monday, the dreaded reading log appeared.
Reading logs. I’ve written about them before (here You Don’t Have To Read Every Day, here Just Let Them Read Books, and here Stop Reading For Points). If you know me personally, we’ve probably had a conversation or two about them.
I don’t like them.
They serve no purpose other than to annoy good readers and make liars out of poor readers.
Even though they have numbers on them, they can’t be quantified.
But S is a people pleaser, so she dutifully filled out the log, improvising because there was no place to write in minutes for Saturday or Sunday (that could be a whole other post). Then she went in search of an AR (Accelerated Reader) level for the books because there was a spot for that. She wasn’t too keen on my suggestion. I told her to write, “My mother doesn’t care what the reading level is, she only cares that I read. Please call her with questions.”
I signed it, but the whole time I was thinking, “What does this number and my signature tell her teacher about her as a reader,a learner, a person?”
The answer to that?
It’s a number.
On a piece of paper.
With my signature.
So, here’s my challenge to teachers who use reading logs (borrowed from a conversation with a colleague earlier this week). Keep a reading log of your own. Do what you ask your students to do for a week or two. Write down what you read, when you read, and how many minutes or pages you read. Go in search of a reading level. Get your spouse or significant other to sign it.
And then reflect; honestly reflect on how that makes you feel as a reader.