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:~: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 :~:

Mandatory Reading

The middle school my boys go to is starting something new this year--mandatory silent reading time each day from 2:15-2:45 when they leave to go home. If the kids don't bring a book to read, they have to make up the reading time in detention the following day after school. I really have mixed feelings about this. I know there are a lot of kids (and adults) who don't read at all. My youngest is an avid reader, but the other two are reluctant to different degrees. They do read, just not as much as I'd like them to. This could be a way to jump start reading in kids who might not do much of it now.

Even though I'd like to see them reading more, it bugs me a little that the school is starting this program. It takes away from classroom time, which the school system here needs according to the past years' scores on the state tests the kids all have to take. Even more than this, I'm not sure I like the idea of punishing them with a detention if they don't bring a book. I just think it could be counterproductive to the school system's cause, especially at a middle school level where kids are discovering they really enjoy challenging authority. ;) It seems to me that if kids associate reading with punishment, they aren't going to want to do it once they get out of school. Not really the way to foster a lifelong love of books.

What do you think of programs like this in schools--good idea or bad idea?


Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Elisa, I think dedicated reading time is a great idea, if it's done correctly. Research shows that kids gain profiency as readers through practice -- which should help raise test scores.

We've implemented a DEAR period this year as well, 20 minutes in the morning. We gained the time by taking 2.5 minutes from each class, homeroom, break and lunch.

I'm with you on the detention -- my experience is that with kids who are going to be repeat offenders with any rule, detention is not a deterrent.

I keep books and magazines in my room for those kids who "forget" a book, although I haven't had one forget yet. What I've done in the past was hand them a literature book and they had to copy pages for the entire period. It's unpleasant. They usually didn't "forget" more than once.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

My kids have had DEAR, which is a version of what you're describing here, for years. I don't have any particularly strong opinion on it one way or another.

My younger daughter is an avid reader, devours books. My older is a touch dyslexic and has always hated reading. BUT...she stumbled onto that new series -- Twilight, Moonlight and Eclipse. She is now preordering books and disappearing until she's read the whole thing - all friggin' 600+ pages. And she's telling me she's going to give the books to me so I can read them.

She is a different child and this series has twisted her view of reading 180 degrees.

So, the mandatory reading part might be beneficial in that many children might need to kiss lots of frogs to find a prince of a book.

But punishing them with detention if they don't bring something to read will only make them cast blame on the program and the idea of reading. Which can never be good.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Interesting post. I'm not opposed to reading time in school, but I'm definitely against using detention as a punishment for those kids who fail to bring a book. I agree, we don't want our kids associating reading with punishment.

My kids' school hasn't started yet. I have no idea if they have a DEAR program or not. I'll find out.

9:15 AM  
Blogger MaryF said...

Detention? Yeah, that'll bring the love ;)

We have silent reading just before lunch. EVERYONE reads, even the teacher. Where did we get the time? The kids in my district started getting free breakfast a few years ago, and so the district expanded the school day to accommodate. Well, some principals decided that 15 minutes could be spent more productively, so now the testing grades (3, 4 and 5) go to breakfast before school. We use that 15 minutes for silent reading. Then after lunch, I read to them.

I have a HUGE classroom library, so they can always find SOMETHING. I don't care what - it can be comic books, whatever, as long as they're reading. It made a difference with a lot of my students last year.

1:38 AM  

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