What You Read Doesn't Count

This evening we went to the public library for the Jim Cosgrove (Mr. Stinkyfeet) program. While we were waiting in line I decided to go in and chat with the librarian about Andrew and his book choices. I was able to speak with the person in charge for a moment.

Basically what she had to say was: 1) they encourage the children to read at their appropriate level, 2) if Andrew reads the picture books, she would discourage him from putting them on his reading log, 3) it's not fair if he gets to read books below his level while others read on their level, 4) he can put the picture books on his list if he reads them to Aiden and 5) he can read non-fiction books that are the same size as picture books.

Folks, I am just so disappointed in my public library! I am at a loss. I told Arik that I was going to write a letter, but the more I think about it . . . who am I going to send it too? So, I chose my blog as my forum for my letter to the library. Brace yourself, this will be lengthy...

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to express how deeply sadden and disappointed I am in my public library and the summer reading program. I have two points of view that I would like to express in this letter - as a parent and as a teacher.

After talking with the person in charge of the summer reading program at the Public Library, it was explained to me that the goal for the reading program was to get and keep students reading on their appropriate level. The impression I got was it was a "by any means necessary" style of leveled reading.

As a parent, I appreciate the library having my child's best interest at heart. The fact that the librarians want to help my son be successful is great. What I don't appreciate is how with one phrase, you knock the effort that my son is making to be a reader. By disallowing him to log the picture books he reads is like taking 5 steps backward. Basically, you are telling my son that the reading he is doing isn't good enough for your program.

I thought the whole idea was to get children reading - by any means necessary. Make it fun and interesting. Putting unnecessary restrictions on book selection is NOT cool. It doesn't even say in the reading program rules that the children have to read books on their level. So what if Andrew wants to take 5 times as long to get to 500 pages by reading picture books? The point to be celebrated is that HE. IS. READING!

To help him grow in his reading, we talk about choosing chapter books. I have him pick 1 chapter book each visit to the library. He also checks out lots of expository text as well. I am doing my job as a parent...

As a teacher, kudos for stressing the importance of getting the children to read books at their level. Reading books on their level helps them enhance their reading skills. It's great.

One thing I would caution you on is creating a negative connotation with regards to reading. By disallowing books that were read at the independent level (easy books), you are discounting all the effort it took the children to read those books. Basically, you are slapping them in the face.

When it comes to reading, yes, you want children on their level, but you also have to know the personalities and quirks of each child. You can't provide a blanket set of rules. The secret word for this decade is *differentiation.* Reading is not a one size fits all kind of thing.

As a parent and a teacher, it's great to know that you are trained as a teacher, but seeing how you are close to 640 years of age, there have been some changes to the world of literacy and education since Jesus was in school... I think you might have missed some things or maybe you are just too set in your ways to meet the needs of today's children.

Cocerned as a parent and teacher,

Mrs. Mikesha Bradner, educator


Mrs. H. said...

As a mother I understand your point about struggling just to get your child reading...ANYTHING(same problem with your brother). So picture books are a great compromise while you sneak in 1 or two chapter books (we used comic books) It is, after all, summertime. The librarian could have just stated the picture books don't carry as much weight as the books on his level. The ratio could be 4:1 or something. But he should get credit for those pages.
Andrew is quite a little reader and I'm sure he is at or above his level. Keep up the good work Mom.

Now that comment about Jesus was totally uncalled for. Everyone knows he didn't go to school. He is all knowing!

Steffon Hamilton said...



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