Monday, February 25, 2013

Reading Programs: motivators or haters?

Hi all, I'm on my soapbox today, so apologies in advance!  I'm coming off a weekend of required reading drama that was...well...less than enjoyable for all involved.

And the saddest part, my kid LOVES reading! (Seriously, I count my lucky stars that she wants to read for pleasure and can't keep her nose out of a book!)

However, this love of reading is often hampered by school reading programs, ironically.  There was this weekend's stuff, which I suspect is only in our school. But, let's take accelerated reader (AR) for example.  It's used all over the United States.  It was originally designed to get kids excited about reading and earning points for books they had read.

Before beginning this program kids are tested to determine what level of books they be should be reading. After choosing and completing a book at their proper level they take a computerized test which evaluates their comprehension of the book and awards them a certain amount of points depending on how many questions they answer correctly and how difficult the book is.

In January,  Lilac picked up, adored, and flew through the Clementine series. She couldn't get enough! In fact, she's read them all...well, all except for one book. It's below her AR level.  So, although she wants to read it and would probably thoroughly enjoy it. She can't take a test on it, or get points for it (which allows her to keep recess).  So, she chooses other books.
I don't mean to sound whiny, because really, she can read that book at spring break or on a long weekend or something and still be fine to read the required number of books she needs to keep her recess.  But, something seems a little off about the whole deal, you know?

So I'm polling all of you, whom I would consider to be authorities in children's lit and loving reading.  Are you familiar with AR and other point driven reading programs?  Do you support them? Why or why not?  Do you think that giving points for reading will make kids that don't like reading want to read? Do you know of a different or better method? Do share.

Always hoping for happy reading!
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