Posts Tagged Raising readers

Keeping Track with Personal Reading Records

I recently caught up with two former students to talk about – of course – reading! One is at a new school, and I still see the other around campus and in the library, though I’m not regularly in the classroom these days.

I heard from their mothers ( both book people, so of course we’re in touch) that Kenzie and Hannah keep reading records for themselves, and I was very curious to see how – or if – they continued on where their library class with me left off some years ago.

I kept a wall behind my desk depicting my own reading life: covers showing books i’d read and those I planned to read. In addition, a couple of my classes chose to track their reading lives on another wall of the library.I love that this particular wall grew out of these readers’ desires to follow their own lives as readers.

In our recent conversations, I started out by asking the girls why they keep track of their reading. Kenzie uses her list/page count system to prove a point to others and to show that she really is as well read as she says she is, and to see how far she has come as a reader. She also uses a list of books she’s read to keep track of where she’s been. I can relate to that. I remember where I was when I dug through Bronte’s Villanelle on summer in high school, and I opened Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the security line at Gatwick Airport. Kenzie also pointed out that she likes bonding with new friends over books they both love.

Hannah uses a journal to remember what a book was about, and to set and keep reading goals. She also finds that she can also track her taste in books.

I asked next how the readers keep track of their reading. Kenzie carries two lists. One is of books to acquire/to read. A book goes on this list when it’s recommended or when she decides to read it.  It gets crossed out when it gets added to her (physical) bookshelf.  A book goes onto the second list when she starts reading it, along with its page count. When she’s completed it, she marks it off.

Hannah makes lists of books she wants to read while she browses the library shelves, then adds them to her journal when she starts reading, with synopses, notes, and a rating system. I asked some other students about keeping track of their reading. Many of them simply try to remember what they read, except for those who are currently using their Humanities teacher’s Reading Bingo to track their reading.

I keep an occasional journal as well, noting books that inspire me in some way. Otherwise, I keep track using Goodreads and my library wishlist. If not for these tools, I would be lost.

Inspired by this conversation, I also asked my colleagues how they track their reading. They use  phone notes apps, Amazon and library wishlists, and Goodreads (many are actually on Goodreads but only a few use it, and those are mostly readers who are members of book clubs).

I asked Kenzie and Hannah how they choose their next read.  Kenzie chooses a book from a genre she’s interested in, then explores titles in that genre. A read-alike in that genre inspires her next read. Sometimes she needs a break from a certain type of book, though, like murder mysteries or books with heavier themes.

Hannah finds her next read by using eeny meeny miney mo, from 3-4 books she chooses from the shelves by turning a few pages, according to her mood, and referring to her list.

Asked how they read,  Hannah reads all in print, and Kenzie reads in print or on her phone if she’s out and about. Hannah has expressed that she is not at all an audio book lover (it is my main way to consume books these days, to be honest).

Finally I asked the girls what they’re reading now.

Favorite Genre:

Hannah: Realistic fiction and historical fiction – she feels that she learns more from them.

Kenzie: Mystery

One unforgettable book:

Kenzie: Under the Egg

Hannah: All the Light We Cannot See

A book to recommend to a parent:

Hannah: The Rhyme Schemer

Kenzie: Everything she thinks is good

Here we are with a few of our favorite books.

It was a blast to ask these questions of students I’ve watched grow from early readers through their middle grade years. It is especially rewarding to celebrate the readers we all are today.

Do you keep personal reading records? Why and how?

An Unfortunate Event

If you like stories about people who enjoy popular series of books, this is a story for you. If you like stories about families bonding over books, you might read on. If you are a parent who appreciates the value of reading and a proud parent of readers, you may enjoy this.

But, if you are a meticulous keeper of neatly shelved and ordered books which are kept with the utmost of care and handling, you may want to stop now. If you cringe when someone opens one of your books for fear they may dog ear a page, please go dust off the Aa-Hi titles on your bookshelf. This story is not for you.

It all began at a book fair years ago when the three, young Hays children selected a paperback book entitled, THE BAD BEGINNING. The book is read, thoroughly enjoyed and soon book two in the series is ordered. Well, some of you may guess where this is going. The next thing the dad knows is that we own A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 thru Book 8.

Fast forward to early January 2017. The 20-something, college-graduate, working-professional, Hays kids are at the house for a family dinner. The kids and their significant others are talking about their anticipation for the new Netflix A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (Anticipation here meaning, waiting with great excitement and enthusiasm.) The talk turns from the TV series to the book series.

It is found out, with great surprise, that only one of the five young adults read the entire series—my son-in-law. Out of the old adults (me and my teacher wife), I lead the elderly set with a reading through THE AUSTERE ACADEMY, Book 5. After many joyful minutes of A Series of Unfortunate Events book talk, my eldest daughter, who is a second-grade teacher, says she wants to read all the books again before she watches the series.

Girl Twin says she recently reorganized her room and thinks she remembers them being on her bookshelf. She checks and returns with a stack of books. Books 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8. No THE REPTILE ROOM or THE ERSATZ ELEVATOR!

A mild panic ensues. Where are Book 2 and 6???!!!

A search of all the bookshelves in the house reveals nothing. The two volumes, including my favorite, THE REPTILE ROOM, are gone. Most of the immediate blame goes on Boy Twin, but after a search of his books, he is cleared. Eventually, we decide they could be anywhere. The most likely scenario is determined to be those two books probably disappeared when they were part of my wife’s middle school or 3rd-grade classrooms free-range-reading book shelves.

An unfortunate event, indeed.

Soon, we ameliorate (a word meaning to make better) the lost book situation by returning to a discussion of our favorite parts of the Baudelaire orphans’ plight and end a pleasant evening talking books and eating dinner with the family.

Lessons learned from my Unfortunate Event evening…

  1. You never outgrow your favorite books. They stay embedded in your heart and soul forever. Nothing can change that.
  2. There are books for everyone. A nonreader is a reader who just hasn’t found his niche yet. i.e. My son-in-law, who is the admitted nonreader of the whole bunch is the only one of the whole bunch who read the entire 13-book A Series of Unfortunate Events series.
  3. Sometimes books get lost and disappear for a reason. There are kids out there without access to books besides what they find in the library or on a teacher’s open reading shelf or a free book exchange. Sometimes a borrowed book becomes so special and important, it finds a new owner. Oh yeah, then there’s always the overzealous mother who cleans out your room (book and baseball card collection included!) the minute you move off to college.
  4. The Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is very good. As good as the books but in a different way. Isn’t that the way book adaptations should be?

Author’s UpdateI wish I could update you with happy news of Book 2, THE REPTILE ROOM and Book 6, THE ERSATZ ELEVATOR being found, but, alas, they are still missing. In more upbeat news, Book 9, THE CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL, turned up this week in a search and nobody remembers buying it.