My thoughts on Accelerated Reading.

Well basically, I completely and utterly hate AR. (The link is to a Wikipedia article that looks like it was written by the company… Don't drink the Kool Aid).

I had a pre-teen girl come up to the desk with her mom today:

Girl:  "I need to delete all the holds on my card."
Me:  "Ok, lets see…"  I look and she has holds on most of the Clique Series.  "Are you sure to want to cancel these holds?  This series is popular and you aren't very far down the list to get them."
Girl: (Looking disappointed) "Yes, and can you put holds on these for me?"  She hands me an AR list from school with checks by the ones she wants to check out.
Mom:  "Yeah, she got too excited the day after school ended and didn't check to make sure the books she wanted to read were on the AR list."
Me:  (Trying not to simultaneously cry for the girl and smack the mother.)  "OK"

WOW, it is just SO horrible that this girl actually WANTS to read something.  Lets ruin it by making her pick something from a list made up by boring old adults.  Summer should be all about reading trashy books for fun, not reading something that is "at the right reading level."

This is the second time I've run into this in the past few days.  The other girl was looking at a series and saw a title that she thought would be good.  She looks at the paper in her hand and says, "Oh, but this one isn't on the AR list."

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11 thoughts on “My thoughts on Accelerated Reading.

  1. Sigh. They're planning on introducing AR at the district where Bootsie teaches. It sounds kind of crappy that it discourages parents from letting their kids read something if it's not going to count towards this list.

  2. I think there should be some kind of balance. Reading for kids should offer some variety of AR and what they would choose without the list (as in what interests them). AR just sounds like conformity to make everyone the same. How is that encouraging to kids to read…if they feel bad for reading things not on the list?
    And I agree….summer reading should be light and fun……a break from all the heavieness of the school/work year.

  3. geeeeez. It's like Big Brother or something. We didn't have any required reading till 9th grade and then it was ONE book. So, I am all for encouraging kids to read, especially over the summer, but for god's sake don't make them hate reading by taking the pleasure of discovery out of it.
    Can't they have SOME required reading and some for pleasure? I LOVED going to the library in the summer I always took out 2 or 3 books per week, reading the back and deciding whether I'd like it…that's half the fun.

  4. Can't she read the Clique books and the AR books? I didn't have assigned reading in grade school but I did read 8-10 novels a week during the summer, usually only 4-5 during the school year (I'm a fast reader). Usually Star Trek until I hit high school, then I was all over bad sci fi and worse historical romance haha.My kids are only three so I don't know the Accelerated Reading program. What's the deal?

  5. If this is discouraging kids from reading books not on the list, I see it as a (now) mild form of brainwashing and conditioning. Soon kids will be unable to choose books from themselves, if they become reliant on this AR list.

  6. Oh man, that's the PITS!! Shouldn't educators want children to love READING?!?!? A number of my friends developed a love a reading by starting on comic books and cheap sci-fi — I'm sure those aren't on the AR list.
    Boo!

  7. To everyone who asked about reading for pleasure in addition to reading for the AR program: Yes, they should be able to do both, and I don't believe for a second that any of their teachers or school librarians have suggested otherwise. The problem in this situation is the parents not understanding that AR is one part of reading education. The other part is enjoying the discovery of a new author or series by just browsing the shelves and developing a love of reading. She was so excited about READING the day after school let out, and that in itself should have been applauded. Give her some time to enjoy the summer before making her finish her required AR reading.

  8. AR is a program that schools buy into where a computer program figures out the reading level for a title. The students are then supposed to pick titles from the list that are in their assigned range. After they read the books, they take a quiz to assess their understanding of the material. That's why for AR they have to read certain books. The company only has quizzes for certain ones. It allows teachers to see how they are progressing in a measurable way. Good teachers should also stress enjoyment to the children and their parents. I know a teacher who lets the kids do half AR and half whatever they want.

  9. They are definitely not on the AR list. It certainly isn't hurting our circulation of graphic novels though. We can't keep them on the shelves. Kids will sit in the library and go through 2 or 3 in a sitting. I love it. It brings them to the library. Many of them read "regular" books too.There also isn't much nonfiction on the AR list. Boys tend to love nonfiction so that's a shame.

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