Reading logs are the definition of a fun suck.
They are one of the few things I truly hate about reading. I used them one year because all the other teachers were using them. I witnessed first hand their destructive power.
I saw reading become a chore to be finished instead of an escape to be taken. I saw honest students turn into liars by forging their parent’s signature. I saw voracious readers get in trouble for not filling out their log. I saw the voyage of reading become reduced to swabbing the deck all in the name of helping students be responsible.
I used them once. I’ll never go back.
Now I talk to my students every week about the importance of reading. I want them to read outside of class everyday for the rest of their lives. Reading is a great way to help us be the best people we can be. Reading is for life. It helps us in ways that don’t fit neatly into a little log.
“But how will you know if we’re reading at home?” an eager student asked me near the beginning of this year. I tried to explain to the student that, on the day-to-day, I won’t know.
“So we don’t have to do it, then?” Hmmm. This student wasn’t getting it yet. He was standing at the gates of Readicide, but I’m thankful he hadn’t walked through yet.
“I’ll know you’re not reading by your conversations,” I told him. The student’s squinty, confused eyes told me he needed a bit more. “We’re going to talk about books a lot this year. And write about them quite a bit as well. What do you think will happen if you’re not responsible with your reading?”
The student thought for a second. “I guess I won’t have much to say.”
I make sure my students know that I can’t make them read at home either. I want them to feel the weight of that responsibility on their shoulders. I want them to own it. That way when they do read on their own, they know it was their choice. It wasn’t something Mr. Stortz made them do.
Responsible readers are made by opportunities to be responsible, not by hackneyed accountability gimmicks. Ditch the reading logs. Your readers will appreciate it.