Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reading logs for the summer

In my district, the teachers and students are still moving along.  So I've been super busy with my files and end-of-year reports.  Of course I've been procrastinating finishing my files because I've been trying to compile some kind of summer resource for my students (hee hee).  This summer resource is very simple:  mostly reading response activities and problem-solving, since my third and fourth graders struggle with comprehension and word problems.  I wrote a little letter explaining that THIS IS NOT HOMEWORK but a continuation of skills developed throughout the year that can be used AS NEEDED.  Along with this very small packet I wanted to give them a reading log.  So, because I'm new to third and fourth grade, I wanted to see how different teachers created their reading logs (I already know that Beth Newingham has some great resources).  So I Googled "reading logs third grade."  That opened a can of worms...

I scanned the first page of results and these titles jumped off the screen: 

Stop Homework » “I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom

Reading logs killed the bibliophile | Woulda Coulda Shoulda 


Um, I'm not trying to kill my students with reading logsI don't want to squelch their love for reading....Oh no, what am I doing?  I had to click on the links to see if I was going to ruin my students' future by giving them a reading log.   


One of the contributors to Sara Bennett's Stop the Homework blog wrote about how she basically refused the required class reading log.  Sidenote:  I had NO idea that there was a large enough group of people who rallied together against homework.  In my humble experiences, I've had parents ask me for more homework or actually "assign" homework to their children (a tactic that I really don't agree with much).  But I digress...


Miriam Kamin writes in her blog that her daughter is a reader with a capital R but hates the reading log.  Hmm, I wish my students were readers with a capital R, but maybe they don't like reading as much because of all the things they need to write and check off with each book.  And my kiddies need all the reading they can get in this summer...


Here's the clincher:   I'm currently reading The Book Whisperer (yeah, I know there's a book group at TBA but I couldn't help starting a little early...the book is SOOOOOO good) and Donalyn Miller talks about how her students hated reading logs, the parents didn't like signing them, and she stopped using them.  


Okay, I think I got the point.  I definitely want to be judicious when using a reading log with my readers.  But keeping in my mind the needs and wants of my population of students,  I know that some of them would want to have a book log.  So how do I balance the two?  Well, that usually means I have to create it myself.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  So here goes...I created a simple, non-threatening (hopefully) summer reading log.  My students will have the option of selecting a design as well as the option of using it at all.  I don't want them to feel pressured but I do want their summer reading accomplishments to be acknowledged if they choose to complete the reading log.  Let me know what you think:


This resource is FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you do not have an account there, leave your email address in the comments below, and I'll be sure to contact you.

More sidenotes:  one of my resources in my summer packet is from Mrs. Rojas' Teaching ResourcesI LOVE these reading response starters, especially for my kiddies.  Please check her out!!  Secondly, I am definitely following along The Book Whisperer blog book club.  I cannot wait to read and respond to other teachers' reactions to this amazing book. Yay!


  1. Wow, have you read the comments under the first link? They kind of depressed me. I do get their point (not necessarily their anger toward teachers), but when you have struggling readers they need to be reading at home too, and you can't just assume that they'll read because they want to. I wish they would, but they don't. It's hard to find the balance.

  2. My own sons were asked to complete reading calendars to measure their reading away from school. For 2 of the 4, it was a great motivator--each month they wanted to read more than the month before! For my other two, it became just one more thing for us to fight about. So...we didn't. If they didn't want to fill them out, we didn't fuss much about it.

    With that in mind, when I send home reading calendars with my children, I make them COMPLETLEY OPTIONAL. I tell parents that they can do with them what they want. I have some students who complete and return it each month, but I also have some of my best readers who never return it. Oh well. We know that what works for one doesn't work for all. :)


  3. Ashleigh...I completely agree, it's hard to find the balance, and some students require some gentle nudges. Jennifer, you're totally works for some, it might not work for others. When I gave my students their summer goody bags, I told them that the reading log DOES NOT require a parent signature and it's optional, and they were so excited! Each one chose the design that he/she wanted, and a couple said that they'll visit me in September to show me that they completed it. I'll be so excited to post about it on my blog if that actually happens!!

  4. We too have discussed this in our grade level. We are not near comfortable enough to get rid of the reading logs, but are aiming this year to make them more purposeful. Are these students coming back to you next year? What if students were well aware of the purposes of the reading log (and the purpose does not have to be "So that I know you are reading.") A few quick purposes for the summer reading log (hopefully just a list of books the student read/started/was interested in/etc), could be to share books you loved with your classmates when you return, to keep up with what authors you really liked so that you can seek out more books like that.

    Ideas for during the school year that we have decided to focus on next year include:
    -analyzing stamina (how long can I read, how many pages can I read in 10 minutes, is this increasing across the year)
    -am I able to read more in a 20 minute sitting at home or school? Why is that so? What can I do to make school/home reading more similar so that I can do my best reading?

    One idea our PLC came up with was to stop telling students how long they have to read each night. For me, 5 nights a week for 20 minutes is required. But, we discussed how if every student is writing 20 minutes because they know they are supposed to, they are probably not always being honest. What if there were no time requirement? (Although I would still have the 5 nights a week requirement, 15 minutes would not be good enough as I want them to aim for 30 minutes most nights...And, I plan to talk to students about reading research and how much reading it takes to improve as a reader to get them invested in why they are doing the independent reading at home.

    With all this in mind, it means that reading logs have to become a part of my daily classroom conversations, and not just to check that they were filled out. It also means that I will spend minilessons teaching students who to analyze their reading growth and set goals.

    Maybe explicit purpose and utilizing them more often and more continuously as a tool is an answer?

  5. I researched reading logs for different reasons, and was also surprised at the 'Stop Homework' movement! I couldn't imagine evenings without homework in our household, and while I do not believe the kids should have HOURS of it, I support after-school work 100%.
    Regarding reading logs, you may be interested in looking at a new website called Reading Rewards, which allows you to do reading logs online. Create a group and accounts for your students, and have them log their reading entries online! These are then available for all kids in the group to view, and you can share book reviews and recommendations. There are all sorts of incentives for the kids, including just being 'Top Reader' in the group, as well as weekly 'Reading Races', where the more kids read, the better their chances of winning! You can also set up your own rewards for kids if they reach certain targets. Parental validation for reading is possible, but not mandatory. It's a great site that is starting to be used by more and more teachers. It's a nice alternative to traditional reading logs that some kids and parents might be need.
    Best regards,

  6. This post has really made me pause and think about my stance on reading logs -- especially because I just spent time creating a new one for next year. However, I was guided in creating my logs for this upcoming year by the work of Lucy Calkins Reading Units of Study and the ways in which she has students use the reading logs to get to know themselves and others as readers. Check out the post on this blog for another perspective on this as well.

  7. I am so grateful for all your input! This is such a rich and engaging discussion.

  8. Folks, there's a reason "I Hate Reading Logs" is the most active thread ever at StopHomework. Reading logs have a completely negative effect. Kids who used to like reading will come to hate it after they're forced to keep a log.

    As for analyzing stamina, reading isn't a sport. This sounds like one more way to alienate kids from reading.

    Reading is a pleasure. Give kids books they're interested in and let them have at it. The more you poke and prod, make them accountable, analyze how many minutes they can read at a sitting, the more you drive them away from reading.

  9. If you make the kids read and report back to you about whether they've read, what other message can they hear but "Reading is a chore that we know you wouldn't choose to do on your own. So we force you to do it and police whether you have"?

    A kid's natural response is going to be, "If reading is so enjoyable, why are they so sure we don't want to do it?"

    Is forcing them to read twenty minutes every day really worth sending that message?

  10. FedUpMom and Chris: Thanks so much for your input. I fully understand the possible implications of forcing a student to keep a reading log. In this particular post, the reading log is an option, and in my humble experiences as an educator, students love and should be able to make choices for themselves. As teachers we need find what tools work with our population of students and make adjustments as necessary. There is no "one size fits all." On the flip side, teachers are also held accountable for student progress and must show evidence for it, which often means more paperwork. In the end, most teachers have the best intentions and work so hard to inspire and motivate their students. Again, thank you for your input, and I'll be sure to follow your blogs now as well.

  11. Workshop Classroom, I'll be checking back to your blog as well.

    "Optional" is a beautiful word. I wish we heard it more often.

    It's frustrating for us parents. The pressure for "accountability" means that teachers are constantly trying to generate data. From the kids' point of view, this means constant paperwork for them!

    We parents watch our kids begin to hate school, hate learning, and hate reading. It's not what we want for our kids.

  12. I agree that making it optional is a big improvement, though I still wonder whether it's better simply not to encourage them to quantify their reading. What Alfie Kohn says here seems to make a lot of sense to me.

  13. How's it going with reading logs this year now that we are 1/2 way through? I just blogged about my change in perspective. My students are taking ownership over their reading with the changes I have made.

    Check it out at