Put Another Reading Log on the Fire

I love to read. But I’ll just come right out with it.

I LOATHE reading logs.

“Reading logs” are these handy little learning tools designed to “motivate” my 5th and 6th graders to read each day and help them “process” what they’ve read.


Here’s my fifth-grader’s.  SO. MANY. BLANKETY. BLANKS. 

But really, it’s little more than a tracking device to see which little delinquents are actually reading and which ones are doing something more fun.

As I see it, the Reading Log is that jerk at the party who marches into a room of happy people swinging from chandeliers and proclaims, “Wellll, technically that’s illegal…”

Everyone was having a perfectly lovely time ’til that guy showed up. And my children were quite contented little readers ’til the Reading Log showed up, all bossy and ranty and sapping the fun out of the whole thing.

Here’s just a snippet of the conversation my kids are having with the Reading Log EVERY DAY:


“Welll, I think that’s just super that you’re zipping through Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People for the 39th time!

But wake up, kid! (I see you nodding off as you read in bed…)

It’s time to look alive and kindly document how long you’ve been reading. (What do you mean you didn’t look at the clock when you started?)

I’ll then need you to calculate how many pages that is (YES, do the math, lazy bones).

Next you’ll need to culminate your thoughts on the main character’s narrative journey these last two chapters.

(I’m assuming his journey involved toxic farts. Don’t write that down. Go for something more existential.)

If you could then rate what you think about this hilarious little romp on a scale of 1 to 10, that’d be fantastic.

Oh yeah, you’ll be graded on this.

So hurry up! It’s already way past your bedtime! Get HOT!”

The resounding reply of my children every single night:



Lord, your mercies — and the blank spaces on our reading logs — are new every morning.

I know. Filling out this form isn’t that hard. But it’s just ONE MORE TEDIOUS TASK to add to all the other myriad tedious tasks involved in modern-day learning.

And hey, it seems like a can’t-miss idea to me. Wanna instill a lifelong love of reading in our children?


Good plan.

I get it. Not everybody is bookish. Lots of kids (and some days it’s my kids) need cattle-prodding to read three words in a row. So I’m all for carrots and contests and silly plastic prizes for reading books like the town library does.

But ACKKKKK (I’m channeling my inner Cathy – remember her, fellow cartoon readers of the ’80s??), the reading log has become this irksome black cloud, stalking my children with worrisome busy work and turning something that should be pleasant into something so not.


Even Lucy’s fish, Kramer, likes to keep tabs on Charlie Brown’s progress with that football. Just don’t make him document every swinging detail about it. He has no hands, for starters.

I’m just relieved I don’t have to write down everything I’m reading for The Man.

If I did, I’d have to report on my five-minute scan of Elle at the hairdresser’s. I learned that “furry shoes” are trending this fall. (I blame Chewbacca, who appears to be having a moment.)

I’ve intermittently read Entertainment Weekly on bathroom breaks, where I learned that Lady Gaga is even weirder than first believed. (This is not news.)

I would note my perusal of various mommy blogs, where I learned “how to not raise mean girls” and “how to streamline my back-to-school process.” (We’ll see how this pans out.)

I even read THE NEW YORK TIMES this week. Okay, it was one article, online, about the “fashion” of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Meaty stuff. But I learned about the design process behind Amy Poehler’s painful plaid romper. Ten minutes well spent.

I’ve also been reading my book club read (Queen of the Tearling) through slitty eyes, but don’t quiz me on what happened last. I’m sure I was half-dead when I read it and will have to re-read the entire last chapter.

Let’s just say, I’m reading a lot. Not all of it is Tolstoy (okay, NONE of it), but I read. And I do so happily. Without drudgery. Without mandatory required paperwork.

So the moral of my long story is this:

Reading is fun. And if we want kids to love reading too, reading should STAY FUN.

As for me and my house, I wish we could just set the reading log on fire, curl up with a good book, and bask in its nice warm glow.

In my world, that’d be one heck of a happy ending.