Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughts on book logs

Shortly after the school year began, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a blog post that discussed how required book logs at school suck the fun out of reading.  That was the gist of it anyway.  The author's daughter was an avid reader but tracking what she read on a book log made reading not fun so the blogger told her daughter that she could write down whatever she wanted on the book log (I'm pretty sure she used the word lie) and the blogger would sign off on it.  My sister-in-law's oldest is in kindergarten so she has yet to experience the joys of book logs and wanted to see if my opinion matched that of the other blogger.

I have not included a link to the original blog post because I disagree with several of its arguments.

Last year, in first grade, Allie was the only one of my three who was required to turn in a book log signed off by a parent each Friday.  The log was fairly simple and because kids at that age are often read to, it included books read to the student as well as what the student was reading.  Were there some Thursday nights when I exclaimed, "Crap! What did we read on Monday?"  Yes.  But really, it wasn't a big deal.  It's a first grade book log, not life or death.

So here's the main reason I'm cool with book logs:  While you and I may read to our kids each night or have them read to us, there are plenty of parents out there who don't or won't.  A book log ensures that everyone stays accountable.

This year in second grade, Allie and Emily are both required to complete this during the week:


Anna has a monthly reading contract where she has to write down all the books she reads during that month along with identifying if the books were difficult, just right or easy.  A parent needs to sign off on the reading contract before it's turned into the teacher at month's end.

Thankfully, my kids are very much rule followers but even if they weren't, I don't think it's appropriate to tell children it's okay to lie on homework.  This other blogger compared book logs to time sheets from her former life working in a law firm.  I, too, used to complete time sheets when I worked in public accounting and maybe I'm a newbie at this but book logs can't compare.  Plus, anyone who fills in a time sheet learns the art of accurate estimation.

We've only run into one snafu but it's been fairly easy to work around and it actually isn't completely related to book logs.  Emily's classroom has a small library and all the books are organized by reading level.  Each kid was assigned to a certain reading level and they pick out books to bring home to read from the numbered bins.  This is required as homework.  During orientation, her teacher did say that to start, she assigns them to levels lower than what they may be capable of.  Emily is at the highest number.  After that number, there's a star group and then a double star group.  She's already read books that are in the double star group.  So Emily brings home a book from class Monday through Wednesday but she likes to read every night.  And quite often, during the day.  Thursday night, she reads a book online through a website for homework but she still wants to read to herself at bedtime.  Even though she's only required to read a few chapters (if they are short) from the books she brings home, she often finishes the entire book that night.  Think Magic Treehouse or Cam Jansen.  I try to make sure we have enough books here at home so she always has something to read, especially on the weekends.  If I get lazy, I know now that I can always check out a book from the library for her to read on my kindle.    

The girls read to themselves every night, including weekends.  At the beginning of the school year, they all three read to me each night but that's not really necessary anymore.  They still do read to me - just not every night.  I'm a huge believer of the benefits of reading, especially at this age, which may be another reason why I don't mind book logs.

I think my kids are fairly responsible.  They pack up their backpacks for school each morning and so naturally, they've taken to completing their book logs themselves.


Now, if only practicing math facts, which is also on the log, was as painless.    


Sara said...

I am a preschool teacher and send a daily communication calendar home with my students. I usually don't worry if parents miss one or two days of signing off. I look for trends. A week without being checked, notes left in bags, etc. I don't want to add stress to parents' lives, I just need something to go back and forth, just a little accountability.

Anika said...

I teach preschool and just started doing Reading Logs this year. I send a log sheet home at the beginning of the month. I received a grant to purchase books this year, so each child who reads 20 books a month gets a free book! I've had about 70% participation each month...and wouldn't you know the other 30% are the students who are having trouble learning letters and sounds.

kdliberty said...

I like what the schools here do best. They call it Advanced Reading or AR. It is a point type system and you have to take a test to get points. Every book our school system owns has points and a grade based reading level. Pretty much every student that reads in the schools here has to have AR points for one class or another. I really like it because it stresses reading comprehension..