Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Judy Blume’s comments on Accelerated Reader

I love it when I hear from teachers that they've read the Fudge books aloud to their kids and how this has started kids on the path to wanting to read. "I want more funny books. Who else writes funny books like this?" There are certainly many, many, many wonderful books to recommend. I love to hear that they can use a book like Blubber or another one of my books in the classroom and that this works. Or guide a child who may be in need of a book about a certain subject to that book.
What I don't like and what I really don't like — intensely hate, you could say — is the Accelerated Reader program, even though many of my books are in that program, because they rate books, not on emotional content or emotional readiness. They're rated by machine — how many words in a sentence, how long is a paragraph. Nothing to do with character, nothing to do with subject and again, nothing to do with emotional readiness. So that a book like Then Again, Maybe I Won't may have fourth reading level. I get letters from angry parents who say, "My child read your book in Accelerated Reader," and that's a terrible thing.
"He wasn't ready. He's reading on a fourth grade level, but he's only in second grade." Well, what do I say? I try to explain this and I encourage the parent to go to the school and explain why Accelerated Reader doesn't work. It's an easy way for a teacher to run a reading program. It's not the way I think, it's not the way that I would hope that a teacher would run a reading program. Don't take the easy way out, I would say to teachers.
Another thing that I think is that kids shouldn't be penalized for reading a book that's rated younger then what their reading level is supposed to be, nor should they be prevented from reading way beyond. They should be encouraged to just read and if they're reading a picture book and they're in fifth grade because they really want to read this picture book or it's funny, why not?
What's wrong with that? They will read more widely if we allow them to and we encourage them to and we don't reward them for how many books they've read, so that they'll read more books that are short than one book that's long, that's not what it's about.


hat tip > California librarian Robert Joyce

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me started on how much I despise AR in spite of working in a school in which AR reigns supreme. Among other abominations is that students learn to value books because of the point value instead of anything intrinsic about the book. It broke my heart last week when a girl told me that she loved Faith Erin Hicks' Friends With Boys. . . until she found out that it was only worth one point.