Ditch the Reading Log for At-Home Reading!

Welcome, Literacy Land readers!  It's Lauren from Teacher Mom of 3 here today to share a follow-up to my post on reading logs. You can read that post here.

In this previous post, I shared why I am not a big fan of sending reading logs home for independent reading. As teachers, our goal is to create life-long learners and readers; that's why we want our students to read at home.  To nurture and foster little readers, we first must motivate them and help them develop into "wild" readers, as Donalyn Miller would call them.  We also want our emergent students to practice their reading at home AND enjoy doing so.  In fact, we want this for all of our students.

Boushey and Moser ("The 2 Sisters") share the work of Guthrie in the second edition of The Daily 5:

Motivating students, especially reluctant readers, to read at home is 
a precarious act.  We need to give them choice in what they read and remove any barriers that may hinder them.  My advice is to ditch the reading log!

However, there is always the accountability piece. Are the children reading at home?  If I don't require a reading log, will the parents and students still take the reading seriously?  How will I know if they are reading at home?  

Instead of emphasizing the reading log...
  • At the beginning of the year, communicate with parents and students that the expectation is that they read at home.  Suggest they read "x" amount of minutes per day. Explain to parents why this is critical to reading development.  Recommend that parents do not set a timer and that reading can be completed in "chunks" during the afternoon and evening.
  • Allow for as much choice as possible, not only in what a student reads, but also to whom they read.  Students can read to a younger sibling or to a stuffed animal.  Students can read to their parents or with their parents.  For some of my kindergarten and first grade students, I suggest that parents read to their child if their son/daughter is having difficulty (either from being tired, the book is too hard, motivational and behavioral issues).
  • Most likely, you are keeping some kind of documentation at school to record the books students are reading.  So, to send home a reading log is kind of repetitive.  It is hard, but I really believe that we can relinquish control to the parents and students and trust that they will read.
  • Allow students to briefly share their at-home reading in a small group, in a journal entry, during a conference, or during a morning routine such as a morning meeting, or morning work.  When I taught reading intervention, I would have students volunteer to share their their reading from the previous evening as we were waiting for students to arrive.
  • If you ask students if they completed their reading, they will be honest- most of the time.  I'm sure we all have done this, but use the sports analogy with students who are not reading at home.  That is, to get better at baseball (or dance, art, playing an instrument), they need to practice.  The same with reading. Plus it is fun!  If it's not fun, then we as teachers will work on motivating our little ones.
  • You can have students as young as kindergarten give a Book Talk on their at-home reading.  For older students (3rd and above), I have used Book Talks where the purpose was for them to "sell" the book to their peers.
  • Allow students ownership of a classroom reading log so they can see their progress and celebrate how much they have read both at school and at home.

  • If you must have documentation that the child reads at home, consider using a calendar where all the parent has to do is sign their name.  My second grade son's teacher has a book mark for the week.  Each night he reads to me, and all I have to do is sign the paper.  No timers, no complicated reading logs!

So, instead of a reader's log for at-home reading, I suggest teachers spend their precious time and energy on motivating students to want to read, selecting the right book, and becoming independent readers.


  1. This gives me some ideas for next year - Thanks!

    1. Hi Mrs, Spangler- My middle school students loved giving book talks and listening to my "shelf talks". It was such a motivator for them that I often had "wait lists" for books they wanted to read! All the Best, :-) Lauren

  2. The calendar is awesome! My son's school purchases each child a planner, which has a calendar at the beginning of each month. All I have to do is sign it each night he reads. No copies and nothing else to have to keep up with.

    I love the idea of sharing in morning meeting. This helps everyone want to read to have something to share. Definitely sharing that with my teachers!

    Reading Toward the Stars

    1. Thank you, Andrea! When I taught pull-out intervention, the kinders and firsties loved sharing with the other students. Their excitement for a book can be so contagious!
      :-) Lauren

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  4. Love it Lauren!
    Do you have any suggestions for supporting students for their in class book talks based on home reading? I love the idea but I can see many of my second graders, especially at the beginning of the struggle with this. I don't want them doing a lot of prep work at home-that would defeat the purpose of eliminating reading logs. Maybe a future post?
    Thanks for sharing your great ideas!
    Reading and Writing Redhead