Our Experience So Far with Reading Logs
January 11, 2016
I had a conversation on Twitter the other day with author Megan Dowd Lambert that was inspired by Laura Eberhart Goodman's article about her disappointment with her children's elementary school experience. Megan lamented her son "curbing his (avid) reading to avoid writing titles, authors & times in his reading log." She added "Since then I've unabashedly refused to enforce reading logs @ home if my kids don't want to do them."
This comment stuck with me. My response to Megan was that I found the idea of reading logs curbing a child's enthusiasm for books simply tragic. I mean, that's the exact opposite of what ought to be intended, isn't it?
My daughter is in kindergarten, and so far, reading logs have been a positive experience for us. At the start of each month her teacher sends home what she calls a "reading chart". This chart has 30 numbered lines in two columns, and some little seasonal decorations. All we have to do is write down the name of a book that we've read to my daughter on each line. The idea is that families ought to be reading at least a book a day to kindergarteners, and that the empty chart might provide some gentle encouragement. (A partial example is shown to the left - you can see that we were in a Babymouse phase.)
My initial reaction to this reading log was: we are going to need more pages. So I went into Excel and created my own little table / template (continuing the 30 lines per page), and printed out some extra sheets. In September, we filled nearly 7 pages, for a grand total of 200 titles. Our totals dropped after that, with a total of 115 for December, but we've also been mixing in a greater number of chapter books.
I find the reading log useful because my husband and babysitter also fill it out, allowing me to capture a complete list of the books that all three of us are reading to my daughter. When each sheet is completed, I sit down and enter the titles into a list on my blog. (The full 2015 list is here.) At the end of the month I also scan in all of the sheets. I am putting them into a binder, and think that this will be a fun thing for my daughter to look back on.
But of course it's not really a matter of whether I like this reading log format or not, but whether my daughter likes it or not. And she does. For her, seeing us stop to jot down each title after we finish reading a book has just become habit. She'll remind us if we forget.
Sometimes as the month draws to a close, she'll want to read some extra books to bump up her total. But she's not, as far as I know, comparing that with anyone, or even comparing it with her previous months. She just likes counting. We even use the reading logs to practice math - if we have 3 full sheets of 30 books each, plus one with 20, how many do we have? She needs a little help, but it's good practice.
Recently I've noticed that she's more interested in writing the book titles down herself. Sometimes this requires an extra line or two. Certainly it takes a bit of extra time. But she needs practice with writing, too, so it's all good. She also sometimes has us read, and then list, little stories that she has written herself. To her, these are completely equal to published books (as they should be).
Her teacher hands us back the logs each month, having gone through them and added little comments here and there about the books that she particularly likes. This, I think, is validating for my daughter. And for me, a bit.
So, in my house, where a reading log has been just a very simple list of titles read (no authors, no time tracking), it's been a positive experience. But, as I've learned from my own experience getting burned out on writing book reviews, I can see that having more onerous tracking requirements could quickly get old. For now, though, the reading log is a positive thing. Check back in with me on this next year.
© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links.