Saturday, November 16, 2013

True Confessions: I Use Reading Logs **gasp**

Truth is: I use reading logs.  Honestly, "Do you use reading logs?", is not a question I want to have to answer yes or no to in conversation because we do record books, but I don't advocate a system that bogs down reading or makes it a chore to be done.  I teach first grade and writing is still a bit of work for the young learners in my classroom, but even if I taught 5th or 8th or 12th I would likely follow a similar system.

What has me thinking about reading logs?  This morning I ran across this tweet by Amy Rudd (@aruddteacher100) which took me to this article, Recording Your Reading History, from the DAILY CAFE.  It made me think once again about reading logs.  Is it something I do because I have done it?  Or is it something that students truly benefit from taking the time to do?

What Reading Logs Are Not
Often reading logs are required because we want to be sure students are reading X number of minutes, or completing X number of books, or writing about reading X number of days.  I hope students will read because they want to read.  I trust them to find the time.  I don't require students to painstakingly record the minutes they have read.  I don't require them to write about their reading so many times each week.  Honestly, if keeping our log was bothering someone I wouldn't even require them to use it.

In our first grade classroom, recording every book you read would be an overwhelming task.  Readers read a multitude of titles by the time we have been through our morning independently reading from  baskets of books on our tables, reading during time embedded within our reader's workshop, and the little minutes book lovers in my class manage to find across their day.  Being required to write about books would also be a little cumbersome for many emerging readers.

Reading Logs Are 
In our classroom I do ask students to record the title of the book they are taking home each evening.  I'll be honest, the primary purpose of this is to help us find books when they come up missing.  It makes it much easier for first graders to recall the title we are searching for if they know the title and our book recovery rate is near 100%.  Each day students record the date and title of the book.  They are sometimes asked to record their perceived difficulty of the book.  Space is left for a comment which is sometimes filled in by parents or students because they have something they want to share about the book, but may also be left unused.

Though the primary use for our log is to not lose books (I have to be able to keep my public library card), I've found it does provide other benefits even though it is so simply kept.  The log helps us locate books, but it also provides information for me at a glance about the kinds of reading students are doing at home.  Do students read particular genres?  Do they like to read certain authors?  Do they take home a variety of books?  Do they usually choose books that are helping them to grow as readers?  Do they like to pick the books we read together as a class?  Are they developing their own likes as readers?

Like waiting to open a present, the best part of the log really doesn't come until the very end of the year when I return them to students.  The expressions on their faces as they look back through some of the titles they have loved across the year is worth keeping them stored and organized until I can return them.  The conversation they have as they look through pages of titles they've recorded and begin to realize all of the books they've read is one full of excitement.  When we discuss what a small part of the reading they have done this log represents, they are even more amazed.  Some families enjoy writing comments about the books they've read together and love seeing these once again.  I'm quite sure these logs become keepsakes full of treasured memories.  As we are reminded by Joan and Gail, "By keeping track of the the books we read, we create a history of our journey as a reader."  Having the first steps of our journey as readers seems like time well spent.


  1. I totally agree. I reread lists of things I've written or read and it transports me to that time and place. We underestimate the power of the log. Much of what we know about history, particularly about women's and children's lives is because of daily logs. Very thought provoking for me this morning. Thank you.

    First in Maine

    1. Kimberley,
      Thanks for your comment. You are so right, it does take us back to that time and place. I am always trying to think about whether I do things because I always have done them or because they really are important for student learning. I really never want this to bog down the process for students. It's so amazing when they realize all they have read. I suppose it's like "Shelfari" on paper.


  2. Hi Cathy-all of the teachers at my school have some kind of record-keeping of the books read by the students, whether it's a reading log, or someone is having their older students blog about each book, and others use book cards, filed when a book is finished. They all create lists to place in their portfolios and reflect on that list in the conferences in various ways. I think it's a good way for students to look at progress, examine choices, perhaps begin to see patterns. Your thoughts are valid about keeping the list, although I might re-visit it more often than the end of the year.

    1. Linda,
      Funny how many different ways teachers have for keeping track of a student's reading journey. Thanks for the reminder to consider looking at them more than at the end of the year. The sheet is two sided and likely holds 30 titles. First graders change so much as readers every 30 days the sheet is usually sufficient for talking about reading choices, preferences, etc., but revisiting them along the way would be such a great idea. So glad you added that last sentence! You're always pushing me to think a little more, Linda. Love it!


    2. Linda and Cathy,
      I love the idea of looking at these logs before the end of the year. This would be a great time for the kids to celebrate where they are where they've been where they are going as readers
      Thanks of rate conversation!

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