Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reading Is Not A Sport, Take 2

Playing by the Book has a great post up about a new British initiative to get kids ages 11 and up to read at least 50 books per year. 

What this immediately brought to mine was my elementary school principal's yearly directive to read "a" book during summer vacation (and make a friend and avoid dehydration - he was very big on dehydration).  This announcement always made me and my sister scoff.  "A" book?  A single book during a 10-week vacation?!?  We could read a book a day or more - and often did, especially during those summers that we boycotted camp.  (I hated camp, precisely because I always wanted to be somewhere, preferably an indoor, air-conditioned somewhere, reading a book, rather than sitting on tickly grass or having balls thrown at me during dodgeball.  What can I say, I'm a city kid.  And a bookworm.) 

I don't like the idea of setting a goal of reading a certain number of books or pages at all, as I wrote here.  It takes the joy out of reading.  Not to mention that looking only at quantity is meaningless since books vary in length and difficulty.  If we have to quantify kids' reading in some way, it makes more sense to me to do it by the amount of time they spend reading.  We hear about how much "screen time" kids get these days - not how many different TV shows they watch or games they play, but how long they spend doing so.  That seems to me a much more sensible way of looking at reading, too.  We all read at different speeds and even a fast reader may read more dense or difficult material more slowly.  I don't advocate setting a timer, though; that still makes reading a chore.  But encouraging kids to spend more time reading sounds like a good idea to me.

1 comment:

  1. Our libraries have summer reading programs that are time based -- each "step" is twenty minutes. I love getting the charts and letting the kids color them in, although we aren't so gung-ho about actually turning them in. It's the celebration of reading we like :-)

    My son's second grade teacher had the kids keep reading logs, but for the last month she let them stop. Instead I challenged the class to a reading competition -- for each book they read, they put the title on a paper chain. If the chain got long enough, we had a book party. Oh, and I had my own paper chain, and they had to try to stay ahead of me. Hey -- a whole class vs one parent read-aholic, it seemed fair to me.