Accelerated Reader is preventing my kid from loving books

Before my oldest started Kindergarten, I had never heard of Accelerated Reader. Three years later it is the bane of my existence.

For those of you who don’t know AR is a web-based program that consists of comprehension tests on children’s books. Our PTA sponsors the program for our school and our teachers abuse use it as a means of leveling and grading their reading ability. It is not a piece of sponsored curriculum from the school district but it is used in their daily work and grades. What it does is make reading compulsory. So many pages must be read each day and so many books each week. Then you take a test on each and every one.

Seriously how is that supposed to make reading fun? How is that supposed to foster a love of reading?

My daughter is not a natural readers. She reads “at grade level” but by “at” pretty much it’s the lowest acceptable level for her grade. She does not love to read, for her it is a necessary evil, homework, and as exciting as spelling words and multiplication tables. Actually she enjoys math and spelling more. She’s a bright kid and the only thing holding her back is the fact that she has come to loath reading and will only do exactly what is required no more.

I blame AR.

She is not allowed to follow her own heart at library time, she must pick an acceptable number of correctly leveled books to take tests on. For her reading has become one more chore she must do everyday.

This breaks my heart. I was not a social kid and reading was my escape. Ramona, Anne, and Laura were my friends. Admittedly I was the other extreme and I don’t want use books as an escape from the world around her like I did. I would love a happy medium.

There are so many great books for girls her age out there now. I want to get to know Clementine and Judy Moody, I want to know what happens to Humphrey. But I also want her to meet Boxcar children and Sheila The Great. I want her to want to know them.

Every night there is arm twisting and eye rolling and foot stomping and shoulder sagging and then there is reluctant compliance.. but there is no joy. For me or for her. She completely misses out on the joy of reading.

5 sentence summaries must be written nightly, 2-3 tests must be taken weekly

It is required, evaluated, judged and graded… but it is not fun.

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