Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toodles to Reading Logs...

Wow, it's 11 p.m. I'm still up, I'm not sleepy...

I love summer vacation!

Of course I can't turn my mind off ...doesn't matter if it's January or June, I'm still thinking about my classroom.  Here are my latest thoughts and I was hoping you'd weigh in with yours.

I've always wondered about reading logs.  I've sent them home ever since I started teaching.  Never really gave it much thought for the first 6 years or so.  Then my own little guy started school and I encountered the "READING LOG" {said in booming voice} from the other side of the school bus...as the mom.  My once voracious reader was limiting his reading to the prescribed twenty minutes.  No more. No less.  This bugged me, but I figured once he got used to the idea of having to fill out a reading log nightly he'd forget to watch the clock and would go back to enjoying a good read.

Friends, it never really happened - he's going into fifth grade!  What really got me where it hurts was seeing my youngest, who's going into second grade next year doing the same darn thing!!!!  I'm sure this can't be said for all kids. I'm sure there are kids out there who could log in more hours than their reading log would fit...but my kids are bound hard and fast to that twenty minutes a night that their teachers have deemed "enough".  {ETA: I love my kids' teachers!  Hi Mrs. P - who I know reads this - I'm a reading log teacher too..I'm only rethinking things professionally}

I read this article some time ago and revisited it tonight...

{click here to read}
...and I really think I may do away with reading logs next school year.  I'm at least willing to give it a try.  I don't know what I'm afraid of??!  Going against the norm? My students to stop reading at home entirely?  Maybe it's the reading log that makes them the readers they become at the end of the year?

Really, I'm 99.999999% sure I'm going to do it.  I'm going to let the parents know that I don't need a reading log to tell me whether or not they're reading at home nightly with their child.  I'll know just by how they read in class.

I send home two books nightly - one that's at their instructional level that we've read in class in a guided reading group, and one book of their choosing from their "bookshelves".  This book is at their independent level.  This one should be super easy to help build fluency and expression.  If my kiddos come to school the next day sounding as if the re-read is a cold read - I'll know they didn't read.  I won't need an unsigned reading log to tell me that.  Right?

I'm curious what your thoughts are....

I'm still thinking....

But I'm pretty much decided....

Like 99.9999999% sure.....



  1. After battling logs all year, I recently decided to no longer do a log. Readers read whether they are required or not. Struggling readers don't read by choice. They end up hating reading. I'm not sure what I am going to do instead. I am doing the Daily 5 and Cafe book studies for 3-5 this summer so I hope to gain some ideas to get students to choose reading. I would love to hear how things work out for you.
    Learning in Bliss

  2. I can't turn my mind off from school either. My hubs says I'm beyond crazy, but he just doesn't understand :) I've never told my students they had to read for 20 minutes, just that they had to read what was sent home and then their parents signed that student read. I finished the last week of school leveling the books that I send home, so I'm excited to be able to match their instructional levels more appropriately for their send home books :)

    Besides, we can spend our summers thinking about the fun stuff in our profession :)

    Following Optimism in 2nd Grade

  3. Last year was the first year I stopped battling the reading log issue.
    I did not send them home and it was the best choice ever. In the past I'd have parents sign off for the whole week the first night. Then I'd have the opposite...nothing filled out and no signatures.

    Yearn to Learn Blog

  4. This is a great post....really has me thinking! I have always sent reading logs home because it was required. You're exactly right though!! You will always be able to tell who reads at home when they return the next day and read for you in group. One thing I did like about the log is for documentation. When a child reads because they love it, they don't need parents looking over their shoulder and signing logs to get them to do it. However, those students who don't like to read and who don't get any encouragement at home, well those are the parents you need to look out for. So I always liked to have those "not-signed" logs out for parent conferences when it came time to talk about reading progression and how the teacher and parent are a team to help every child succeed. You, as the teacher, can do everything you can throughout the day to get that student where they need to be, but I think the parent has to have some accountability, and reading logs help to promote that:) But are reading logs a pain....YES!!! LOL

    1...2...3...Teach With Me

  5. I started to send them home at the beginning of the year, then it kind of got put on the back burner. It probably had to do with being a first year teacher. Anyways... my highest students in my class continued to bring it back every week and would ask for new ones when the filled it up. I didn't discourage them and I didn't overly encourage my other students.

    It's sad, but in my school community the parents are not going to hold their kids accountable. I did grade homework last year b/c I got so frustrated with receiving homework written by parents. Do they think we're dumb and don't notice!?! Ugh.

    Last year, I started to provide an AR incentive for my kids. If they could come into my class, take an AR test right away, and get a 100% they got a prize. This showed me they read and comprehended a book at home :)

    Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans

  6. I just made the same decision! No more reading logs for me either. I'm still going to put reading on their homework contract, but no place to sign or anything like that.

    Krazy About Kiddos

  7. I would suggest not putting a required amount of time. Encourage reading at home by minutes if you like or by the number of books. Maybe have a personal graph that you keep monthly for each student where they can color in a square for every 2 or 3 or 5 books or for every 10 minutes they read (a small enough number that they might be encouraged to double or triple it rather than stop at that number each night). You can certainly assess them in the morning to see if they've read, but their personal chart will show their progress... Maybe a student who struggled at the beginning of the year only logged the minimum in Sept, but doubled their reading time/books by February. Surely an ever rising graph would be encouraging? Without being limiting? And unless you have a group of dishonest children, don't bother the parents with signing it if they aren't particularly keen on being involved. And if they are, they can keep up with the graphing themselves :) Might be an idea to work over in your mind. Let me know what you decide!

  8. This was my first year teaching, and the only reading "homework" I assigned was the logs needed to be completed for book-its. Our school lets students check-out from the large library daily, but only if they've read the books the night before.I always listened to my students read a page or two, or tell me a summary of the story, before I let them check-out, so this assured me that reading was going on at home (for the most part).
    Honestly, kids today are busy with so much extracurricular stuff, and they spend their entire day doing "school stuff" that I don't think we need to bother parents with too much paperwork to fill out/worry about. I think you should embrace the freedom of letting your logs go:) I'm not sure that sounded right...you get my drift!:D

  9. Lol Holly! You reminded me about my first year of teaching. I told parents to read 15 minutes a night with their child, but didn't send a log or specify anything else. Come parent/teacher conferences one mother very proudly told me that she had been reading "Twilight" aloud to her 5 year old! Not exactly what I had in mind.....

    I agree, reading logs are a hassle that can inhibit some readers, encourage others to "cheat" and generally don't really prove anything. I think you'll do fine without it!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  10. I would like to do that with my kids, and I have about half the class that would be great with it. Unfortunately, about half of the kids don't have anyone to reinforce reading at home, and if I don't have a specific log to go with it, the parents think it's not important. Some parents won't come to parent night or conferences; the only communication I have with them is if I can get them to sign a reading log or homework agenda! And that doesn't always happen either, but I have to keep trying something! I hope it works for you - that would be ideal, really.

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  11. I sent home reading logs one year but found that kids who like to read read a lot (or their parents read to them) and my kiddos who don't have many books or who don't have many books just wrote the same title many times. When I'd ask them about the book that was listed, sometimes they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I decided that the ones who will read do and the ones whose families don't support it really aren't doing even with the log. I wish I could get across the importance of reading to ALL my parents. But I don't know what to do about the ones who tell me they won't walk the 2 block to the public library.
    It might be worth it to try not doing it and see if you notice any difference_Chrissy
    First Grade Found Me

  12. I only teach Kinder, but I have never done reading logs, mainly because I barely have parents sign their homework folder! I just try to instill in the students the importance of reading and when they read to me, they know I know if they read or not. Most of the time that gets them. For some reason, they don't want to disappoint their teacher. LOVE! (Wow! We do impact their lives!) :)
    Good luck with your decision! :)
    Crayons and Curls

  13. We got rid of homework two years ago and only have reading logs. (My personal opinion would be to do away with all of it, but I gotta work with the team) After getting rid of homework and only having reading logs, here are some things I notice:
    -the kids who love to read....love to read regardless of the reading log....for long periods of time
    -the same kids who need to read, don't
    -the average kids read for the required minutes, check it off their to do list, and move on to something "more fun".
    -parents complain about not having real homework
    -older kids think it isn't fair that 1/2 grade has no homework

    So, I am still stumped....what to do? Some of the parent comments in the article mentioned are intense, I had to stop reading:-)

    Chickadee Jubilee

  14. I did reading logs my 1st year but I didn't the past two years. There is no requirement one way or the other at my school and I found it was a lot of work for me that ultimately didn't have any effect on my kids reading skills. Some parents were signing just because they had to and others signed because their kids really read but you really couldn't ever prove it one way or the other. Ultimately I think you nailed it, we can tell which kids are practicing their reading and which are not. I tell my parents and my firsties that they should be reading at least 15 minutes a night but I don't feel like having them return a reading log influences their decision to do it one way or the other. I wish every parent understood what we know about the benefits!! I say go with your gut about going without them this year and see how it goes :)

    ❤- Stephanie
    Falling Into First

  15. I am not going to require a reading log. How sad for kids to limit their reading because they are meeting the reading log requirements. I just read the Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and I agree with her that reading logs encourage students and parents to lie about their reading. Completing the log becomes more important than the actual reading. We need to do all we can to encourage reading. We want all of our students to love to read. Maybe I will have students keep a book log all year just so the students can see how many books they have read. I thInk this may also encourage students to read a variety of genres. Just thinking out loud.

  16. Doing a log of some kind was an old standard for us so I would do it toward the end of the year and during the summer and let the children earn a reward for their efforts. This year we're departmentalizing and I'm in charge of the reading. I want to instill a love of reading in my kiddos and their families so instead of mandating that they read 20 minutes each day and "logging" it, I created Monthly Reading Challenges for them to complete. Each one is themed and they have to find and read certain types of books with each monthly challenge. I just blogged about them last night so I'm hoping that they work for us! :)

    A Pirates Life for Us

  17. Holly, I always encourage parents to read to their children and listen to their children read,as often as possible.

    I explain that it doesn't need to be a whole book or even a whole chapter of a book. If time is an issue, reading a poem or two is even a great way to build reading skills.

    I have never sent "required reading log" homework. I think for many children and parents alike, that results in crushing rather than building, any real "joy of reading". I definitely have had parents who I know would totally just sign a reading log without any actual reading done.

    I did create a "reading invitation" for students to voluntarily present to their parents. You can find it on my blog, if you'd like to try it:


    Those who use it, genuinely benefit from the time spent reading; those who don't are probably the same ones who would bring back signed logs without doing the actual reading anyway.

    Follow your instincts; they're usually on target with things that matter.

    primary practice

  18. Reading logs have always been a "pain" for me, both as a teacher and a mother. I've been doing a lot of thinking about homework for my 2nds and I've decided that many of our students don't have enough parental support and the other half has too much! Homework should be meaningful and not just busy work. I do think that extra practice is important, but not as important as being a kid who is allowed to play, explore, and just HAVE fun! My daughter told me "school is just getting in my way of having fun". I agree. Too much homework makes it difficult to find any fun in school. It almost takes all the fun out of learning.
    Okay, so here's my plan. I am alloting 30 min. of homework time IN CLASS! Students will earn credit for doing their homework - reading, math, spelling. The papers will be sent home (home-school connection) and not be expected to be returned. This allows parents the option of having their child complete the work or not. Reading books (on level) and a fluency passage will be sent home BUT the child will be responsible for filling out the "log" (check mark).
    Once the children are independent at doing the work I will then begin to send math/spelling home because I know in 3rd, and on up, homework will be required. However, I will not start until the 2nd semester. By then I am hoping to have taught students to work independently while using their time wisely. I don't want a child to have more than 30 min. of homework a night! That is why I'm showing them what 30 min. looks and feels like. I will also provide a drink and snack.
    I hope this made sense. Sorry for the long post.
    Where Seconds Count 2nd grade blog

  19. By the way, I wrote about your post in my blog and added more of my thoughts and ideas. I also created a link back to your site for readers to read and comment. Thank you for this post. You helped me decide upon my homework expectations.
    Where Seconds Count 2nd grade blog

  20. I personally don't send reading logs home, however our media specialist does. She calls it the 21-Hour Reading Club. They have to read for a total of 180 minutes on each log and if they get 6 logs turned in they get an ice cream party at the end of the year. If they turn in 7 logs they get a special award at the end of the year. I know parents forgot to write the books down so I know that is an issue with it. My school is a no homework school however the students are required to study. I am not allowed to send home worksheets for them to complete, but they are required to study their sight word, etc. at home.


  21. I did away with reading logs when I realized that quite a few parents were filling out and signing the reading log even though no reading had happened. I felt like those parents were teaching those children that it is okay to lie, and it's okay to lie to your teacher. I couldn't get over that and felt it was better for me to not continue that situation. The kids that have involved parents are going to read at home and the kids with uninvolved parents aren't, even if there is a log to fill out.

  22. Wow, I am amazed to read all these comments about Reading Logs. I have been teaching for six years and have sent home "Books in a Bag" with a log for the past two. My students and parents were so excited to get the books since most of my children do not have regular access to books. I work for a school with a high number of free and reduced lunch.

    I noticed a drastic increase in my children's enthusiasm to read as well as an increase in their wpm. My goal is to give the children every opportunity possible. I would not want the lack of resources to stand in the way of their goals.

    Furthermore, sending home books with a log is great documentation that you are doing everything possible to encourage reading outside of the classroom. I save the ones that are completed as well as not completed. This has helped save me many times in parent conferences.

    I have also learned so much from my students by sending books home. I learn more about their dislikes and interests and parents are able to communicate questions on how to teach a specific skill on their log.

    In short, I know some parents and children may not be telling the truth on their log or read at home. However, I am not going to penalize those students who want the books and want to read just because a handful choose not to do the assignment.

    I am going against the grain in saying I LOVE SENDING HOME BOOKS with a LOG! I have already had some upcoming students ask me about them for next year =)

  23. This reading log and homework issue is something I've battled with personally for my entire ten years of experience. And now I'm working at a school where the students might be bilingual, but the parents aren't. And even though these parents really want their children to succeed- they are limited in what they can help with. I am of the opinion to provide the materials, attempt to educate the parents in the value of practice, but then let them decide at home.

    My school has a rule on homework not being more than thirty minutes. So if I ask for twenty minutes of reading nightly, and then give anything else in addition, what if I go over the time limit? Freaks me out.

    So I'm working on this idea for the summer. (I loooove thinking up teaching ideas over the summer. Nutty, but it relaxes me) I've been getting these seven pocket expandable folders from the dollar tree. I'm going to provide different practice opportunities in the different sections.

    One section of course will be reading materials on their level so they can read if they get the notion. The readers are going to read no matter what. My job is to get struggling readers to enjoy it so they chose to do it on their own, but this takes time. I will not have a log, because it bugs me when parents are FALSE in their reporting, or kids get tempted to forge their parents signature. So instead, I will provide various reader response artsyish activities that they can do on occasion. Say if they do three in a month they get a pencil or eraser or what not. These I can hang in the library as book reviews or have a nice bulletin board display in the hallway if I get enough participation. In second grade once one of them gets praised they all follow suit, so I figure once I put one up and make a big deal out of it I'll get more.

    I'll also put in math games they can play at home with a sibling, parent, or even by themselves. A section for word work practice, as well as a list of how to practice without doing boring call and spell drills. Their sight word cards, math fact cards, and content vocabulary cards if they get a hankering to practice (snort). Occasional study aids for content- like foldables or mathcing games. And a little notebook to write me a letter once a week.

    I won't require the letter. It ends up being the same mess as with a log or any required homework. But I will make sure that the kids who do write me find a special stamp or sticker or drawing in my response so the word gets out that you get a little something if you do write to the buggery old teacher.

    And I made this plan because A) I don't like to grade homework, B) I get all uppity when they don't do it and I think they should have, C) it doesn't give the parents who DON'T want homework anything to complain about and D) it doesn't give the parents who DO want homework anything to complain about, and E) I'm complying with my districts expectations. Win win win.

    Now I just got to get them made up. ;)

  24. I did a reading log for the first time this year and I HATED it. Half the time kids didn't do it or have it signed and half the time the parents just signed for their kid even though they didn't do the reading (and you're right you can tell). My 3rd grade teaching friend across the hall used the level readers and made the kids take an AR test on them every week. To me it held the kids accountable for their reading. I have thought about doing this but I am also visiting other options. I love reading everyone's comments to see their ideas :)



  25. As a teacher, I have always used a reading log and one actually comes from our county. The minimum number of books is easy to attain for the kids and I continue to replace them in their homework folders. Yes, there are always those few who will not read at home and those who love to read will read with or with out a reading log.

    As a parent, I loved the reading log with my first child as it took the pressure off me as a parent to "make" him read. It was just part of our nightly routine and homework. However, this year, my second son was assigned a leveled reader which only took bout 5 minutes. He never wanted to read a chapter book or beyond the assignment.

    So, I guess my answer is it can be helpful and harmful. I think that we, as teachers, need share literature with our students more to excite them with stories and favorite authors. There is no perfect answer as each child is different and what works for one might not work for the next...


    The Resourceful Apple

  26. I think there are places where students aren't reading at home, and a log is a way of asking for accountability. With that said, these are probably the same kiddos who don't care as much if their log gets filled out or not.

    I say try it for a year and see what you think. You know your students and their parents and it may be better for them in the long run.

  27. I don't do one anymore. I teach in a Title I school and it's REALLY hard to get parents to sign logs and I know the kids aren't reading for pleasure, they are definitely feeling like it's a chore. And you're right. You can absolutely tell who is reading and who isn't. =) Great post!

  28. shhh....don't tell anyone- but I totally lied on those awful reading logs.
    Even if chickadee didn't read- I signed it-
    because some teachers would give "checks" or have children "turn cards" if it wasn't signed.
    I tell my parents and my kiddos- life is busy and sometimes you have more time on other days-
    And it is so sad to see the face of a child who's mom or dad didn't take the time to read with them and sign that log-
    I got rooked into it my first year- but after that- I decided not to do it.
    Only person on my team-
    Do it! It is liberating!!!!

    ☞Go NuTTY with ME!


  29. Ugh.. I despise reading logs. They end up meaningless... and parents (me included) aren't always honest. Besides, so many of my kiddos whose parents just don't help with homework. I think it's best to inform parents that their child should be reading EVERY day and if they aren't it's very evident. They simply won't progress like they should. It is always very evident.

    I always tell my parents that their family comes first. Have fun, enjoy each other. Don't panic over homework. Fit it into their schedule as needed, but READ, READ, READ.

    Trash those logs. :D
    ❤Dragonflies in First ❤

  30. I'm doing away with my reading logs next eyar...they just don't make sense...I mean, I sign them when we read during the day (which we read EVERY day), and then I have kids who are filling out entire pages at home, when I know that's not true...or I have kids whose parents will NOT sign bc they're such AWESOME parents...so I just don't see the point...except it wastes my time during the day...lol...I'm just gonna stick wit A.R. points...

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. I gave my parents an opt out form this year. I quit copying logs and if they chose to continue logging they wrote it in the assignment book. I kept all the forms as back up! Here's my blog post and form about it!

  33. This reminds me of some things Donalyn Miller said in her book about kids and reading, The Book Whisperer. Have you read it?

    I've thought a lot about reading logs, too. I think one of the things that made me do it my first year was that I felt I needed some sort of accountability system for the kids. For whatever reason, I felt that it was "real" and valid homework then. But, as other commenters have pointed out, some parents only signed because they had to -- not because their kid was actually reading. And then reading became more of a chore for the kids, and, as their older brothers and sisters will gladly point out, homework is not "fun." lol.

    One thing that helped push me into believing that reading logs aren't all they're cracked up to be was my realization that the log was just an accountability tool for me. Like you said, I know who reads at home and who does not; it is obvious by how each child reads during class! And there was no punishment for NOT filling out the reading log -- especially since I couldn't guarantee that even half of them were accurate in the first place. It was then that I decided the reading log was just a hassle and that I wouldn't be incorporating it into my next year of teaching. I think old habits die hard, but I support this decision 100%! You might even have a less stressful year because of your "no reading log" decision!

    ~Mrs. K. from The Teacher Garden Blog

  34. I don't send home readings logs. I tired it my first year and I just couldn't keep up with it all. I say you get rid of it!! ;)

  35. I tried out a reading calendar this year and didn't really like that. Most of my students didn't do it and my copies were limited. But I do send home a book every night and they have a paper in their notebook to write down the title and let me know if the book was too hard, just right, or too easy. I have liked this system. If a parent fills it out, then it helps me not send the same book home twice. But if they don't, no one is punished. I keep sending books home. My students love getting the books. It was really interesting reading all the comments.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

  36. What happened? Did you give up reading logs this year?

    I've added your post to my round-up, here:


  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  38. I have a child who is in second grade and behind in her reading. She is in tutoring and they send home stories for her to read three time in two days. It is such a battle. The stories are "baby" stories that don't interest her. I have to sign that she read them. That also has made her feel like a "baby". She thinks the should trust her and ask question about the story. Her words were "They want us to act responsible and respectful but they don't let us" (The schools rules say Be responsible and respectful). I feel she is right and the student should be giving the respect of trust and then held responsible. Both in a good way and a bad if necessary. Show them the way life is, you do the work that is expected or you have to treat them like a little kid. I can't remember what grade you teach it might not be great for your grade but, fifth grades really? they are old enough to do it


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