Dear Snarky – The Summer Reading Log Cheater

Dear Snarky,dear_snarky_logo

I’m so sick of kids cheating! School starts in a couple of weeks and all summer my kids have had to keep a reading log. Every year their school gives an award to the student who has read the most books and every year the same girl wins because while other kids are reading Harry Potter she’s reading what amounts to board books (and she’s a smart girl so it’s not like that’s her reading level).

 Last year she wrote down that she read 115 books!!! That’s more than one a day. I doubt that really happened. Should I complain to the school about this or just suck it up and keep my mouth shut.

 Signed, Book Mom

Dear Book Mom,

Yes, you should complain but not about the girl who’s enjoying revisiting the books of her infancy. Your complaint or let’s call it a concern (because it sounds better) should be directed to the school about their summer reading contest that stresses quantity over quality.

In fact, I would take it a step further and ask the school why they feel the need to turn reading into a contest? Shouldn’t it be about enjoying literature and increasing reading skills and comprehension not about how many titles you can quickly shove down your book pie hole and then regurgitate on a log sheet?

 You also need to remember that your kids are already winners for embracing reading and tackling larger and more challenging books. Their prize is a bigger brain which trumps whatever lame award your school gives.

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12 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – The Summer Reading Log Cheater

  1. Library Mom says:

    I swear to God every single, freaking school has the summer reading log cheater! I whole heartedly agree with your advice. I tell my kids to throw out their logs and just read, read, read!

  2. School Librarian says:

    I am a librarian at an elementary school and I HATE the summer reading log contest. Our principal makes me do it because he thinks it encourages kids to read over the summer. In fact, it has the opposite effect because, much like your letter addressed, it has kids going for the easy books they can get through quickly in order to “win” the contest instead of having them attempt a harder book that will take them much longer to read but will be so much more beneficial in the end.

  3. Stefanie says:

    Our library measures their summer ready club in TIME spent reading. So you log start and stop times, and ever 3 hours is a prize…. my suggestion would be for the program to convert to time spent (still cheatable of course) which means it doesn’t matter how easy the book is.

      • stefaniecarlson says:

        I like that our library program is a personal contest – everyone can win all the prizes (from stickers to food vouchers at restaurants to a free book) so that if you cheat the only person that’s effected is you… but forced summer reading is about the same level as forced community service IMO. Both are done half a$$ed by the kids.. And it just fosters resentment from all ages.

  4. Holly (2 Kids and Tired) says:

    I hate summer reading assignments. When my son was in third grade, he worked and worked to finish his reading log. They did it by pages read and he had a really respectable high, three digit number. One kid came in saying he’d literally read something like 20,000 pages. I was livid. His excuse was that they don’t have a television. Now, I’m a reader and always have been. My son still is, but not 20,000 pages in a summer. My son didn’t want me to say anything, but it still grates on me and he’s now a junior in high school and is not happy about summer reading assignments for AP English.

  5. Cyndi says:

    Our school assigns the summer reading books based on ability and provides copies of these books to each student at the end of the school year. The books are returned in September along with a student project that must demonstrate that you actually read the books. They can write a report, do a diorama, or various other activities, and prizes are awarded for best presentation. I’ve not heard of another district that does this, but based on comments from others above, I think this might be a better way to do it.

  6. nursemommylaughs says:

    The local libraries have the summer reading program and give away a free book to every child, who returns their log at the end of the summer. There is no requirement of how many books should be read. They leave it up to the parents how they want to handle it. My kids need to read for a bit every day and whatever they enjoy. If they turn in their list with 5 books, they still get a prize…a book. Happy with this set up.

  7. Shelly says:

    I happen to read very fast and can still remember the 5th grade teacher who punished me for recording that I had read all of the extra credit books more quickly than she thought was realistic. Even after giving her a summary of each of the books she still sent me to the principals office. I had a school Librarian accuse me of wanting to put my name in all the books in the library. Sometimes, there is a kid who simply reads that much and that quickly.

    • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

      I think the mother’s complaint was about the kind of books the “winning reader” was enjoying (aka board books) not that she was voraciously reading novels. Ye gads on what happened to you in school. That’s just all kinds of wrong.

  8. Pam says:

    Argh…It is a summer reading list, not a swim meet 😉
    Almost all of the bookstores and libraries in our area have summer reading incentives. They are all voluntary. We use all of them. We get lots of prizes, books, tickets to ball games, etc….
    You can bet your next Diet Coke and trip to Target that the person who came up with the idea of the mandatory summer reading program is NOT the person trying to administer the program NOR the parent at home trying to remember where the heck they left the piece of paper to track the reading hours….

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