23 August 2009

Sunday Salon: Getting Ready for School

My kids will be heading back to school this Tuesday, so in preparation I had to have The Talk with them. No, not that talk. I'm referring to the talk I give them every year about Accelerated Reader.

The local schools makes a big deal about earning AR points, and it turned my kids off reading at one point. C2, my reluctant reader, couldn't read fast enough to meet her AR goal and kept getting left out of AR parties. My other two middle schoolers are such fast readers that they run through all the books of interest at the school library quickly. I anticipate that C1 and DJ will finish all the AR books on their level before they finish 7th grade, leaving them with no AR points to earn in 8th grade. In addition, all three of them are frustrated about not being able to use their reading time to read non-AR books that they like, such as graphic novels.

Once I realized that AR points weren't something they were graded on, I starting giving all the kids The Talk. Basically, I tell them that as long as they read something for 30 minutes each night and can tell me about it, then it doesn't have to be an AR book. I let them know that I am prepared to talk to any of their teachers if this becomes a problem with them. I want them to understand that enjoyment in reading is the reward, not any party or prize the teacher gives you.

TBR List: As of today, my TBR list has 101 titles. I added one book (Extreme Barbecue: Smokin' Rigs and 100 Real-Good Recipes) and removed three books. Out of those three books, two I read and one I abandoned. On my bedside now, I have two books that are on my list and five that aren't. So, if I exercise restraint in adding books, I should be down to 99 books by next week.

Do you ever remove books from your TBR list without reading them? I have a couple books on my list that I thought I wanted to read when I added them to the list a year ago, but they sound totally unappealing now. For instance, I have Between the Bridge and the River at the top of my list and I've been skipping over it for months. I added it to the list when I was going through a Craig Ferguson phase and watching his talk show every night. Now that I've reread the synopsis, I realize that the book doesn't appeal to me. It feels like cheating to just take it off the list, though. I guess I will let it sit there until there is nothing else left!


Sandra Stiles said...

I am a reading teacher and I want to say to you THANK YOU! Finally a parent that not only gets it but is willing to stand up to the school about. If you check out the post below you will see what I am up against. I have my first set of kids tomorrow and 6 weeks of the county coming in to make sure I am working their mandated program properly. They keep telling us it isn't a fidelity check they are just visiting to see if we need anything. I don't know why we need 6 visits to find out if we have everything for our scripted program. I also don't know why they will be surprise visits. Keep doing what you know is best for your kids. If more parents would get involved and stand up to the schools maybe our kids would be able to learn to read easier.

JoAnn said...

I am a former reading teacher and must tell you that I hate it when the schools make the reading all about "rewards". Like you, I feel that enjoyment of reading should be its own reward!

Regarding removing books from a TBR list...I keep a running list (on my library website) of books that I think I want to read. Sometimes I look at the list and wonder why the heck I added a book, as it holds no interest for me now! So - ZAP! - it is deleted.

Dani in NC said...

Sandra, you and I have corresponded several times regarding posts on your blog. I guess you didn't realize that this Dani and that Dani were the same Dani :-).

JoAnn, the reward system is especially galling to me because it ignores why we want children to get hooked on reading in the first place. Besides the entertainment factor, we need to read to gather information. The majority of my recreational skills have come from books. If I didn't know how to glean information from written text, I wouldn't know how to knit or cook because I didn't have people around to teach me.

Lisa said...

I ditch books off the TBR all the time! Too many books, too little time.

Kristen said...

I don't ditch books from my tbr list without reading them but I understand that I am compulsive and should likely not be emulated. ;-)

As for the AR thing, I completely and totally feel your pain. I think the AR program is actually detrimental to kids and I breathed a sigh of relief that two of my three have aged out now (we don't do it in middle school, just elementary). Given that my most advanced reader is the second grader, I have no earthly idea what they plan to do with him when he runs out of acceptable books to read (perhaps start him all over again with the Biscuit books?). Even worse, here the AR points are not only a goal but a component of the kids' grade in Literacy. I'm more than certain that my children's folders are all already labelled with "Mom is a PITA" since I regularly fuss at the teachers about my views on the nature of the reading homework and the necessity of my signing off on it. I refuse, explain my reasoning and suggest that reading homework being my child's responsibility means that he takes the responsibility for recording and signing off on his reading as well. Last year's teacher agreed with me and then quickly shut me down before I could get on my extended AR rant but depending on this year's teacher and her policies, she might get the full brunt!

Dani in NC said...

Kristen, I'm more passive-aggressive than you are :-). I just tell the kids to read whatever they want and wait for the fallout. I haven't had to confront any teachers yet, thank goodness. I'm prepared to do it, though!

Michael said...

Hi Dani, I came across a reading challenge that seems perfect for you - here. Actually, that's a post by Margot about the challenge, but that's where I first saw it.

Dani in NC said...

Michael, you are SO right! I don't normally do challenges, but this one seems tailor-made for me. I have several food-related books that I was thinking about moving to the top of my TBR list. Now I have an excuse :-).