18 June 2012

RIF - Reading is Fundamental, but not always Fun.

     I just have to say that I hate summer reading lists.  I mean Hate, H.A.T.E.,  HATE them. 

     It's not that I hate reading.  To the contrary, I love to read.  I have always loved to read.    I love to read so much I became a librarian.  Now I think that's saying something!  I will read anything, and I mean anything - books, catalogs, newspapers, dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, magazines, I even read the junk mail.  I used to drive my mom crazy as I read signs out loud as we drove (sometimes I still do it to twist her knickers.)  I got a Kindle for Christmas and have read have read 38 books so far (I don't even want to know how much this Kindle has cost me...) That does not include the books I read to the kids.  I just love to read that much.

     But my children don't.  I have tried.  Gosh how I've tried.  We've always had books around the house.  They've always seen me reading (and have asked me to put a book down so they can talk to me.)  I have always read to them.  Heck, I still read to them and they are 12 and 11.  Try as I might though, I just can't get them to enjoy reading as much as I do.  This is a lesson I learned back in elementary school.  My poor friend, Julie, didn't like to read as much as I did.  I figured an afternoon at my house, reading, would make her like it.  It didn't.  It also didn't make her want to come to my house for a while.  She hated it so much, that her mom called and talked to me about it.  I didn't understand then, but I do now.  No matter how much you like something, you can't force someone else to like it.

     So maybe this is a lesson that schools should learn.  Princess just came home with a Summer Reading Record - Nine weeks of reading.  Monday through Sunday.  Total for Week.  And Parent's Signature.  Not only to the parents have to sign at the end of each week, but there is tantamount to an affidavit at the end of the of the reading record that both the student and the parents have to sign.  She's going into the 6th grade.  Not college.  And The Boy?  He'll be starting school in VA (after three years of home schooling) and there is a summer reading list and he has to read at least one book. 

     Now you may think that one book in the summer is not a big deal.  You're correct, it's not a big deal.  Unless you hate to read.  Now the issue is not the ability to read.  My kids can read.  At grade level.  They just don't enjoy it.  So think of something you hate to do or something that you really don't like to do.  Now imagine being told you HAVE to do that thing.  You're not asked if you want to do it, you HAVE to do it.  Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun now does it? 

     Don't get after me that the summer reading prevents 'summer slide'.  If that's your argument, then spread the school year over 12 months*, because reading skills are not the only subject that 'slides' over the summer.  Yes reading is extremely important.  Math, Science, History, Foreign Languages, Social Skills, English Language Arts, the Arts are all equally important and yet there is no 'Summer X list' for these other subjects.

     So I will be emailing Princess's school tomorrow to say that she will not be keeping a summer reading record.  I am also prepared to speak with The Boy's teacher in September about my thoughts and feelings of summer reading lists and explaining why he has not read a single book on their list.  It may not win me (or my children) any friends at the schools, but for a few weeks anyway my kids will be kids and they will read if they want to.

*For the record, I am a firm believer that the school year should be spread out over 12 months for many reasons.  One of which is to avoid 'summer slide'.


  1. My kids both love to read, and have always been so-called advanced readers. Which is we all hated summer reading lists, too!

    1.) They are always "dumb" books, according to my kids.
    2.) Why take something that a kid is enjoying doing on their own and take all the fun out of it.
    3.) It's summer!

    And so, when my kids had to turn in lists, I just told them make up something and I'll sign it. I know you can read, and so will the teacher after about the first two days.

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  3. My Theory is to try and get them to the books but the choice needs to be theirs, especially over summer.
    If I look forward to my summer to read all the books that I couldn't get to during term time why should the kids be any different?
    When I was a kid, I always HATED being made to read set books during my time.