reading is fun

I enjoy reading in many forms: from a book, a magazine, a blog, or audio book… it doesn’t matter how I’m doing it, but that I’m doing it that’s important.

No matter how many years I’ve taught, what grade I’m teaching, what school I’m at, or what country I’m in, there is always a debate about the reading log. So why are so many teachers/schools/districts pushing “The Reading Log”?

As a parent and teacher, I’ve tried an array of reading logs: monthly minutes, daily reading, parent signature required, comprehension questions, pages read, reading journals, charts, calendars, author/title, weekly recording sheets, rewards, sticker charts… you name it, I’ve probably seen it, tried it, and/or required my students to complete it.

As a teacher, I printed them, sent them home for homework, and marked responses with stickers and smiley faces because that’s what the school required.

As a parent, I loathed the nagging required to get my children to complete the reading tasks set forth by their teacher. Ugh.

But as I sit at my dining room table typing up this blog, I look at the couch where both of my teens are reading and think to myself, “I did all right!” My daughter is nose-deep in the latest of a series of YA fiction suggested to her by the school librarian and my son is on his laptop reading the blog of a YouTuber he admires.

But they are not logging a gosh darn thing!

Without reading logs, my children are more avid, excited, and enthusiastic about reading. So how do you get around the parental torture of a reading log? Here’s my teacher pro-tip: let the kids read what they WANT to read. 

  • If they like to cook, then have them read a recipe while you two make dinner together.
  • A fan of comics and comic books? Grab a magazine or subscribe to an online newspaper and discuss the real-world satire the comic is commenting on.
  • If you live far away from family and friends, get your parents or in-laws to write regular emails to your child which they can respond to. This idea helps kill two birds with one stone as you also get your children to practice writing too!
  • Tap in to their interest by finding a blog they can follow: like LEGOs, outer space, or animal rescue.

If your child’s teacher sends home the dreaded log, I’m sorry to say, you won’t be able to avoid the torture of tracking minutes or signing a sheet to say you saw your kid reading. But you will help build the habit of reading. And that is more important than anything.

Some alternative ways to complete reading log goals:

  • blogs
  • recipes
  • letters/emails
  • newspaper/magazines
  • directions
  • maps
  • audio books
  • home language books

Ultimately, the most important thing we parents and teachers can do is read by example. We can’t expect our kids to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. So, grab a novel, download an audio book, join a Book Club, open a magazine, or cuddle with the kids on the couch–it doesn’t matter how you’re doing it just that you’re doing it.

Angela

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becoming authors

So many times, I have parents roll their eyes when their kids take home page after page after page of mark making work. Comments like, “Really? More scribbling?” and “This isn’t a nice picture” or “Sure, sure… it’s a dinosaur” as they dismiss the picture all together.

STOP PARENTS!!!! You need to flip the script. The evolution of writing begins with the act of making marks on a page. If the child wants to take home their artwork (read: scribbles) its because there IS a story there on the page.  If they are bringing their work home–they want to share it. If they want to put it on the fridge–it’s important to them.

Let me tell you a bit about what happens in the classroom to help you make sense of their thinking (and some ideas you can use at home too!)


For the past few weeks, my students have been showing off what their big bodies can do. Some showed us how they can balance on a foot, use a screwdriver, ride a two-wheeler, and go to the dentist.

But the most exciting thing their big bodies can do is draw pictures and tell stories. Using their knowledge of shapes and colors, we’ve worked as a class to retell a story from the day’s activities–like the day our friend played his guitar, when another friend made a Valentine, or when another student read the class calendar. While I acted as their hands, the children told me what shapes and colors to use to make an illustration. Now, they walk around the room “reading” the stories we wrote together.

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Taking this activity further, I worked with small groups to model how the children can write their own story. While listening to each student tell me the story that they wanted to draw (“the day I went down the blue slide at the hotel” or “I saw a sad dinosaur who was hungry”), I drew my own interpretation of their story.

My 3- and 4-year old students used my work as their mentor text to create their beautiful stories.

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The green grass, the yellow sun, and the blue slide. The purple grass is at the hotel when it has the lights on and you get a buggy to drive… But it’s not here because you have to wait for it.

nb: did you notice that when she was telling me about her story, the slide was blue but in her artistic recreation of the story, the slide is green? So young and already using artistic license!

 

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There isn’t any food for the dinosaur. He must wait for people to give some seeds and then put some water so it will grow food. It is going to rain. I need a rain. (the student then drew some raindrops) But I put the sun. That’s OK. I will make more rain. (he then added more raindrops)

 

 

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Mio heart eat sandwich [and] yellow cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

The joy of watching preschool-aged students create more approximate illustrations is amazing. They are beginning to feel like authors. They get confirmation from their peers and parents who say, “Wow! Your car is so nice!” or “That monster looks sad. Why is he sad?” When someone can actually understand their story, their face just lights up!

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So if your child is a “scribbler”, don’t dismiss their work. They are on step one of their developmental journey to becoming an author. The most important question you can ask is, “Can you tell me about your story?” If you don’t… you’ll miss out on the genius of their creations.

The bad guy is hurting him. The green is for his bat wings. He is flying to get the eggs. The bad guy monster steals his eggs.

Of course… wasn’t it obvious?!?!