“I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom

This is the sixth post by FedUp Mom, the mother of a fifth grader. FedUp Mom’s daughter used to attend a public school in suburban Philadelphia, but this year FedUp Mom moved her to a private Quaker school, hoping for a more relaxed environment. You can read her other posts here, here, here, here and here.

I Hate Reading Logs
by FedUp Mom

Every time I think we’ve solved the school problem something comes along to bite me in the rear. This week it’s the dreaded reading log. We found out about it from a letter the teachers sent home:

“Your child will be expected to read every night. We ask that you sign the log each night … We will also check the log regularly, in order to ensure follow through on your child’s part… Please sign the form below and return it to school tomorrow with your child.”

And now, the fun part:

“Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education.” (!)

And how does following the teacher’s directions make me a partner exactly? I feel more like an unpaid employee. Wait a minute — we’re paying them!

There was a little form at the bottom of the letter that said:

“I have read the above letter and agree to help my child by signing his/her log each night.”

I crossed this out and wrote in:

“We trust our daughter to do her reading.”

Then we signed it.

Then we sent the following e-mail to the teacher:

Teacher X: we have chosen not to participate in the reading log. We’ve experienced reading logs before and have these objections:

1.) They turn reading into a chore.

2.) They send a message that we don’t trust (daughter) to do the reading without meddling and micromanaging.

(Daughter) will do the reading she needs to do, but she won’t be logging the pages. Thank you.

I’m hoping that will be the end of it. I’m really tired of conferences and I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time.

1,097 thoughts on ““I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom

  1. I have not read all the comments, however I was concerned by the attack on teachers (public school teachers). Let’s support the individuals who have chosen to teach our children. Goodness knows public school teachers are not getting the professional pay they deserve. And now we turn against the very people who want to teach our children. We should support teachers in anyway possible they are raising future generationations. Take time and think, don’t attack the one person who chose this proffession to help nurture learning, teachers aren’t the “bad guys”.


  2. Concerned, I appreciate your concern. Really I do. But you need to think broader. This isn’t about slamming teachers. If you think parents are whiny, have nothing better to do than complain, think again. It’s quite the opposite. Most parents are afraid to speak up. Fear of retaliation, fear (justified or not, and I submit to you from personal experience it’s justified) the teacher will take it out on their kid.

    When I homeschooled for a year, there was a common refrain. We began to spill the beans with each other, let out all that fear and intimidation. And the comment I heard over and over was, they have your kid. they have your kid. This feeling, they’ve got my kid all day. I’m helpless. What will happen to her if I speak out?

    I’m driving home the point that many parents never speak up. Most feel guilty. Either way. If they screw up the courage to say someting, they fear they’re harming the student-teacher relationship. If they do not, they fear they are harming their child.

    It’s time to applaud parents and stop making them feel so guilty. Schools have plenty ways of making parents feel terrible for speaking up. The most effective weapon is the teacher-as-saint card. You’re picking on a saint, how dare you.

    But this is not a convent. It is a school. And last I checked, we have separation of church and state. It’s my child. I have that right. It’s not a partnership if I am bullied and beaten into silence.


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  4. Thank you FedUpMom! At first I was on the side of the teacher when I read your post. I am planning my 8th grade year right now and was in search for a good reproducible reading log when I stumbled upon your blog post about reading logs. I would rather have my students spend more time reading instead of proving they read. I never thought about reading logs as a chore as you put it or even as a waste of time. I want the parents to be involved in their child’s education and even though I teach I am paid by donations and parents (private school), I expect them to be involved for the success of their student but I shouldn’t require the parents to do “homework” with the exception of the occassional field trip form.


  5. “School is no place for a reader. An object of suspicion and a source of discord in the classroom, the reading child is a threat to school harmony. Her act of reading is itself a provocation to authority. She must be stopped and made to play team games or gaze dumbly at a screen. The silent reader dangerously escapes supervision and the escape is most threatening when the content of the book is unknown.

    But reading boosterism is everywhere. Notices in the hallways advertise the Book Fair. Slogans abound. “Reading Rocks!” “Reading is Cool!” “I ª 2 Read!” Oracular posters prophesy “TODAY A READER, TOMORROW A LEADER.” A spurious promise. Reading seems at least as likely to undermine a desire to “lead” as to encourage it. In the act the reader retreats from the world, makes herself absent from the forum. When I think of “readerly leadership” Tolstoy’s General Kutuzof comes to mind – observing, waiting, delaying action, frustrating the ambitions of courtiers and counsellors. His was a leadership prone to doubt, aware of the vagaries of chance, and the unpredictability and frequent futility of action – “When in doubt, don’t.”



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  7. You feel like an unpaid employee?? Are you kidding me? You seriously don’t think you should have to lift a finger to educate your child? Conferences are a waste of time?? What kind of a parent are you?

    “We’re paying them”?! That’s extremely disrespectful. FYI, teachers pay taxes, too. So I guess that makes them self-employed.


  8. yes. i couldn’t agree more with you guys. reading logs are bad and are forcing kids to do more homework then they already have to do.


  9. yes. i couldn’t agree more with you guys. reading logs are bad and are forcing kids to do more homework then they already have to do. its just so bad




  11. “FedUp Mom”,
    Reading is crucial and the majority of students are not reading at home. Many students do not have parents who encourage them to read. By doing reading logs we are reminding students & parents just how important it is. Yes, some students lie about it but at least they are being reminded it is important.
    I’m wondering if you think the teacher wants to put this punishment on you. Teachers do not want students to have to do reading logs. Teachers want students to be successful, to love learning, to be able to succeed because not all students have parents who are there to encourage them to read.
    Perhaps next time you want to send a nasty email to a teacher think about rephrasing it because when you send an email like that I can guarantee you that the teacher is instantly thinking not polite things about you. But because the teacher is professional replies about how of course you know your child etc…
    I have talked to many parents and said that I know their child reads every night because it is evident in their ability and I don’t mind if they skip the reading log. I welcome parents emailing me and letting me know that it is a stressful time when their child needs to fill out the reading log (but really is it? it should take 30 seconds max to fill out)…every child is unique and open communication that is there to benefit the child rather than berate the teacher is what helps that child and all children be successful.

    FedUp with Irrational Parents… who teaches because she believes in all children and wants to help every single child, no matter what, succeed!


  12. Hello parents,

    In regards to your hate of homework, let me say that as a parent of a child who frequently used to fall asleep at the table trying to finish her homework, I can understand your frustration with the amount assigned. It not only cut into our family time and her hobbies (which included reading) but also made us feel like failures. My child went to private school and there were times that I considered homeschooling, but we persevered.

    As I begin my teaching career I have had to consider the pros and cons of assigning homework. I decided to assign it. My plan is to ask students to read for 30 minutes a day (of course this depends on the grade I am assigned) and I will be providing a log. I think this provides students with a foundation of accountability and establishes a good habit (reading…not the logs). After about the sixth week I’ll know who needs it and who can forgo it (the logs…not the reading). By that time I will also know who needs to be assigned those questions, some of you deem insipid. That’s because research indicates that this improves comprehension. It’s an after-reading strategy. Some children need this, all children could benefit from it.

    Additionally, I will be sending home any assignments that were not completed in the classroom. That is because there has to be accountability. Will I make exceptions to this? Of course I will. This depends on the specific circumstances. Did a significant amount of the class need more time with the assignment? Are there children who need additional help understanding? Why would I send it home? They need more time or additional instruction to complete the work. I would rather give them that time and instruction in the classroom. However, if they have a few more to go, why not let them finish at home? Every child is going to be needing a different amount of time to finish a task and I won’t mind letting them take it home to finish. This would alleviate pressure and I believe would help them complete the task more accurately instead of hastily writing down an answer just to finish it. By the way, the independent work they do, is a tool that will help me see who is understanding and who needs additional or different instruction.

    As I read through this blog I was taken aback at a lot of the comments, both from parents and from the teachers. There seems to be a lot of frustrations on both sides. As a parent I know that I wanted what was best for my child. And I applaud those of you who want an answer as to why certain policies are implemented. I’ve been in the position where I had to question the reasoning behind certain rules or projects and in fact had one canceled (a story for another time). I want to address a few of these concerns.

    First, the reading logs. I’ve given you my reasons for doing so. I will be using it as an assessment. It will give me a better picture of your child, not just about what they are reading and for how long, but also what kind of support they are getting at home. As a student-teacher I was able to observe who was signing those forms and who was not. Of course, there are going to be exceptions. Just because a parent didn’t sign the form does not indicate that they are not involved with their child’s education. But can you see how this helps me form a better picture? Those students who aren’t filling them out, not getting them signed, not reading at a proficient level now have a tool that I can use with the parent (if they are willing).

    So, now I have a question. Understanding that it might help another student would you be willing to keep doing those logs? I know that there are some teachers who will be using it all year long, and those parents that feel that they only have to worry about their child, but why not worry about that other child who is struggling? Someone has to. I will and hope you would too and if it meant signing or initialing a form that takes literally seconds, why not? I read that some of you think that this might cause the child to think of reading as a chore or that it creates an environment of distrust. Really? Maybe if the child was recognized for their responsibility it would feel less of a burden. Maybe if the interaction between the child presenting the form and the parent signing it was met with a “great job” instead of an apology for checking on their progress, these elements might be eliminated.

    Another issue I saw brought up was the assigning of ridiculously large projects that everyone knows are really a parent project. First, let me say that teachers are being taught different strategies and techniques to help students learn and show that they have learned. Some of these include authentic assessment, project based learning, cooperative learning and flipped classrooms. Depending on the grade, the project and of course the teacher, most of these are going to be completed in the classroom where a teacher can supervise and provide guidance. That’s not to say that there won’t be homework. There will need to be some reading, writing and research that is done independently. Some of this will be done in class and some will be done at home. I know that I would try to make most of this (reading, writing, research and project) classroom time, because I want to see who can do the work, not which child’s parent can do the work. That being said, work done with both a parent and child can benefit the child as well (scaffolding, gradual release of responsibility) but not everyone’s parent has the time or patience do so.

    Okay, let talk about control. I saw this on a few postings. As a teacher I have a responsibility to have control of the classroom. If I don’t, then the learning environment is going to be chaotic. This might mean that your inquisitive child might have to wait to get an answer to a question or to start collaborating with another student. There has to be rules in place to make sure everyone in the classroom has the opportunity to learn. This does not mean that I want to control your child’s outside life. As a parent of a child who was involved with a multitude of extracurricular activities, I understand that there needs to be time spend with family, time to play, time to relax, time just to be a child. This makes for a more balanced child. And balance is what is needed to include homework, specifically, reading and writing, into their lives. As both a parent and a teacher I want to make these very important activities enjoyable, not a chore. Maybe 30 minutes of homework time sound unreasonable to you. I like that amount and would hope that students would want to do more on their own. I would hope that parents would come to me and express their concerns so that a comprise might be reached. For example, 15 minutes 7 days of week instead of 30 Monday through Friday.

    What I would not want is someone disrespecting my decisions. Am I going to make mistakes? Who doesn’t? But a respectful dialogue between us will probably resolve the matter and might change an assignment or policy.I want what is best for your child too! I am saddened to read that many of you were met with resistance, but I’m willing to bet that most teachers are willing to listen with openness and patience. Maybe I’m being idealistic…and I hope I never lose that. I’m hopeful that with parents help all of the students in my classes will not only be successful readers, writers and problem solvers, but also create positive mind-sets, appreciate challenges (like homework, projects and yes, reading logs) and develop a love for learning itself.


  13. My apologies for the grammatical mistakes I made in my earlier post. I hope that it does not distract from my message.


  14. Dear New Teacher,
    I love that you will bring both your parent and teacher perspective to your new position. I wish you lots of luck and I’d be curious to know how your thinking evolves as you gain more experience.
    Sara Bennett


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  16. Actually, as a teacher, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about reading comprehension of non-fictional, informational text and fictional text that the students don’t read for a sustained time in class. It’s weird. I think it takes time to “get into a book.” Hit the reading zone. There is so much talk about reading and TESTING of reading that not much reading is getting done:(

    Truthfully, too, much of my time is spent teaching conflict resolution–how to listen to others, voice concerns, and respond appropriately so that others can, in turn, listen. I have children DYING to speak with me a lunch. To just talk about something they are interested in, not something we are required to cover.

    When I ask students (I teach 3rd grade) what kind of activities they share with their parents, sadly, most tell me they do not see/interact with their parents for longer than 15 minutes on a daily basis. I am not pointing my finger, I am just sad that even now my own kids need my attention and I am commenting on this…Wait! Gotta go! My kids still need and want me around!

    I vote for quality time everyday listening, and laughing with your child. Sign the laughing log! Or doodle. Or don’t:)

    We are all trying. Parents are first teachers to a child…


  17. I read your opinion on reading logs, and as a teacher I found myself very upset with your approach to this. I understand this is a place where you vent frustrations, but I feel there is a great lack of respect for educators here.

    I resent the remark, “Wait a minute — we’re paying them!” Are you suggesting that you make the decisions in my classroom, because you pay me directly? You see, I also pay for many public services. This, however, does not mean I am qualified to make decisions on the best practices in each of those areas of service. I do encourage you to stay informed and exercise your right to vote as well as address any important concerns with your child’s teacher in a respectful way (which, contrary to what you seem to believe, is not what you did).

    As a part of my career as an educator, I take part in many time consuming tasks that I don’t always feel make me a more effective educator. These often (more often than many realize) require me to take time away from my family, because I care about my students. These tasks may even suggest that my employer doesn’t “trust” me. I do these tasks, because my employer requires them of me. I do them, because as a professional and a contracted employee, there are some non-negotiables. My employer has set a standard for employees, and they are doing their best to hold us accountable. It is far from perfect at times. I have “suffered”, because others aren’t doing their job. Can I object or discuss these with my superiors? Yes. Can I stop submitting lesson plans, because I don’t agree with how time consuming the format that was chosen for me can be? I suppose I could, but I better be ready at my next evaluation. But I also know I have to do more to be effective for my students. I know this, because I’m a professional who takes my students’ growth and success seriously. Most educators do.

    I do not work for YOU. I am not YOUR employee, and I do not work for you. I work for the children in my community and school. I do this to provide each child with the quality education they deserve. I work with you, because it is in the best interest of the child to communicate. To work together. To show your child that we both care about their success and that we are willing to work together to ensure that they grow and learn. I also work in an under-privileged community where many families don’t value education the way that I do. There children deserve the opportunities education can provide, and there are times when I am the only one invested in their success. There are other times when parents are looking for guidance, too.

    I’m not suggesting you don’t value education. It sounds as though you do. I am saying that some students need structure that your child may not. I send home a reading log. Do I love doing this? Quite frankly, no. Can I hold students accountable for reading in a better way? I haven’t found it yet. I know which students love to read. I know which students go home and read for two hours, because they want to read. These are also most often the students who fill out their own reading logs and ask their parents to sign them. Is it really that big of a deal to sign it? To say, “What did you read tonight? Tell me about it.”
    I know I have others who desperately need to be reading and are fighting it every night. I cannot control this. I can only hope that their parents will try some of my suggestions for making reading more enjoyable for their child. That there parents force their child to be honest about what they read, so I can have the conversations at school about why they aren’t reading. I know all of my students are different. Is filling out a reading log really forcing your child to “suffer”? You’re very privileged if this is the cause of your suffering.

    I resent the e-mail you sent to your child’s teacher, as a teacher, because we have far more important battles to fight in our classrooms than you not wanting to take two seconds to scribble a signature. Because your child will think you don’t trust him/her? Ridiculous.


  18. Frustrated Teacher says:

    I work with you, because it is in the best interest of the child to communicate. To work together. To show your child that we both care about their success and that we are willing to work together to ensure that they grow and learn.

    Telling me what to do is not the same as working with me.


  19. Research shows that children who read 20 minutes a night have larger vocabularies and perform better. Unfortunately, not all parents encourage reading as a practice. In my experience, lower-income families do not own books, nor encourage their children to read. If reading is not a way of life in a home, the children take longer to pick it up as a habit. As teachers work to find books that inspire and interest children, reading logs are a way to ensure children are reading regularly. If your children are already reading, then great! Your children are not the intended audience. You have to understand that your children go to school with a variety of kinds of kids. Some of whom need the encouragement to read at home because it is not a way of life for them. Your children’s teachers are only trying to do what they think is best for the students they have. They only desire success for those in your care.


  20. I’m a 4th grade teacher and honestly I would love to do away with homework, but as I read some of these comments (because I don’t have time to read them all) I don’t see any ideas on how to change it or what to do differently. All I see are complaints, but nothing for the teachers to do differently. So you don’t want homework. I get it, but what DO you want. Teachers are limited on time to teach their students. Those students need to be reading daily to expand their mind. So no reading log… what then? How do we know they are reading? How do we get them to read? I could say the same thing with spelling.. hate it, but it’s part of our TEKS. What are the positive ideas that I could do instead of giving the boring reading log or the same spelling assignments each week? All I am saying is don’t complain unless you have a better way, and if you do please share instead of just complaining.


  21. “Don’t complain unless you have a better way.” Really? Who’s the professional here?

    Let’s try an analogy here. Suppose you had a child with a bad rash, and you took her to the doctor. The doctor prescribes an ointment that’s supposed to clear up the rash in three days. Three days later, the kid still has a rash. You go back to the doctor and say, “the ointment didn’t work!” and the doctor says “well, don’t complain unless you have something better to suggest. I’m tired of listening to complaints.”

    Here’s the better way I’d suggest: you teach 4th grade. You’ve got these kids for many hours a week, during the day when they have the most energy. Whatever you want to accomplish with the kids, get it done in that time. Stop trying to control their home life to make it look the way you want it to look. It’s a losing battle and it’s really none of your business.


  22. The fourth grade teacher that posted is probably long gone.

    Nevertheless, here are some ideas:. Poll families on reading logs. If families are already reading, leave us alone. Save your energy to help non reading families rather than caring about whether my kid read the assigned book 4 different times like he was supposed to.

    Don’t ask us to read for 15 minutes a day if we are limited to only using your books. Do send home books with the kiddos that they want to read. The guided readers are dull. (If you need gently used books, ask your reading families. Our kids probably have some they have grown out of. We also know all the places you can buy books by the bag.)

    If families don’t know they are supposed to read to their kids, show them. Have a family reading night where you demonstrate it. Find out whether families have books.

    I think the parent frustration comes from a combination of limited time vs actual outcome. If I have to read a G level guided readers to my kid who actually wants to be reading about sharks or Laura Ingalls Wilder, it is really hard not to see the reading log as a huge waste of time.

    Also, I suspect that in order to get honest answers about who doesn’t read at home and why you need to ask the question in a way that parents understand you mean to help and not criticize.

    Separating the problem out to identify which parents have dyslexia vs which parents don’t have books vs which parents are ESL shows you a lot about how to help the kiddos.

    ESL parents often don’t read to their kids in their native language due to wanting kids to learn English. But that helps the English literacy. If poverty is an issue books can be provided. And if there is an actual inability for parents to read to the kids that family needs audiobooks and extra attention at school.

    But finding that all out requires a lot of trust between the parents and the teachers, a healthy supply of books, and a lot of effort on the part of the teacher.


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