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Literacy Milestone: Doing Book Reports

LiteracyMilestoneAThis one is not, alas, a universally happy milestone. My daughter's kindergarten class has started doing book reports. Each child can pick out a book to bring home in a special book bag each Monday. The book has to be returned on Thursday with a book report. The book reports are to be written in a little notebook, using a proscribed format. The kids did get to decorate the cover of the notebooks, and the whole thing was billed as a special fun treat. But I was skeptical from the beginning. 

My daughter was excited for the first book report. Her first book was Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz. We have another Froggy book at home, and she enjoyed this tale of a frog too intimidated to learn to swim. She whipped through the four questions comprising the book report: "Who are the characters? What is the setting? What happens in the Story? Did you like the story? Why or why not?" She seemed to feel some sense of accomplishment.  

BlankCopyBookReportBut then she got the book report back the next Monday, with criticism for not having used complete sentences, or put the words in the right place on the template (there's a lined page on the back - she was supposed to draw pictures on the front). She found this feedback as she was starting to work on the report for the second book (Love You Forever, which she had picked because the cover made her think that it was going to be funny).

And before you could blink, her joy was gone. She started moaning about not wanting to do this second book report, with four drawings and four (or more) full sentences. This is exactly what I was afraid of. For another friend (whose family perhaps read the directions more closely initially), there was never joy. The mom had to force her son to do even the first report. If you ask me, kindergarten is too young for book reports. [Please know that I do not blame the teacher in any way - this is a grade-wide initiative at our school, and I'm sure there are "standards" that the kids are supposed to reach.]

I talked with another mom about this at school the next day, and her take was that the kids need the writing practice, because they are going to have to write full paragraphs next year. And I get that writing practice, and thinking about the elements of the books that you read, are necessary skills for kids to work on. Eventually. In some way. But I feel like there could be a better way...

The bottom line for now is that I am watchful.  If I find that these book reports are taking away my daughter's joy of reading, something I've worked for nearly six years to build, I'm going to look into having her not participate. Because I feel, quite strongly, that it is more important that she continue to love books than that she does book reports in kindergarten.

What do you all think?   

© 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

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