Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What I've Been Reading/ Accelerated Reader Program

Not too long ago, I finished reading The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, which I borrowed from my mom's elementary school library. If you've read this book, you're probably scratching your head wondering why in was in an elementary library, because while it was an easy read, the themes were way too mature for elementary school kids (much of the book was implied rather than actually stated, and it required that the reader have some familiarity with World War 2). So why is it in the elementary library? You can thank the not-so-wonderful Accelerated Reader program, which I loathe. LOATHE. If you're interested in what the AR program is about, I'll explain at the end of this post.

Anyway, the book was an easy read--well written, but absolutely tragic. Still, I'd definitely recommend it. I can't really say much about the book without giving everything away, so you'll just have to take my word for it! 

I'm pretty sure that I heard about this book from Alyssa at My Husband's Watching TV. This book is about a woman accidentally kills a woman that she's just met in a traffic accident. She discovers that the woman has written a list of 20 things that she wanted to do by her 25th birthday. The narrator decides that she's going to complete the list for the deceased author, and learns a lot about herself in the process.

This probably isn't a book that I'd buy, but it's worth checking out at the library. Easy, chick-lit sort of book. Perfect for pool-side lounging, in my humble opinion.
This next book is one that I'm currently reading. I haven't finished, so I can't give a full review, but I'm really enjoying it so far.

I have often been frustrated by the assumption of others that because of my religious beliefs, I must also belong to a particular political party. I don't. Honestly, I don't feel like either political party is a good representation of my beliefs as a Christian. So far, this book has done a great job explaining why neither party has it right, and which political issues we, as Christians, are called to be concerned with based on scripture--and they may not be the issues that you might think. 


Now, back to the AR program. Basically, it's a program used by many public schools that's designed to help kids self-select books to read. Kids take a test, and it gives them a numerical range. They are supposed to select books within that range to read. AR level 5 is roughly a 5th grade level. AR level 1 is roughly a 1st grade level. Naturally, you'll have some kids reading above grade level, and some reading below.

The kids read the books, and then take a test (which is almost 100% recall rather than comprehension) to prove that they read the book. They get a certain number of points for each test they pass. The problem is that content doesn't seem to be taken into consideration anywhere in the AR program--for example, Catcher In The Rye is AR level 4.7, but I think it's common sense that most 4th-5th graders wouldn't understand many of the underlying themes in the book.

Additionally, some teachers and parents don't let their kids read outside of their assigned ranges ever (I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been to the library and heard "Sorry, that's not in your AR level, you can't get that"). I am a total bookworm, and I can confidently say that had a program like that been around when I was in school, I probably would have left school HATING it. And I just don't think it teaches kids how to read, and then think critically about what they've read. End vent.


  1. Ugh, I feel like the surest way to make kids hate reading is to give them a level and draw it to their attention daily.

    I enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but was shocked when I found it in the Children's section when I went to check it out.

  2. They use the AR program at the school that I worked at. I hated that too, that they could only get something in their "level" instead of challenging them a little bit more.

  3. I teach high school English, and I often have parents of younger students ask me about the merits of the AR program....and I never have an answer. I hate it. I think it's horrible, and so many of the books are really horrible options--especially when you have an advanced third grader....the reading material may be in their grade level, but it's totally not APPROPRIATE. Beyond that, I have seen some teachers kill the love of reading with their constant emphasis on points rather than enjoyment.

  4. Yikes! While the concept makes sense in terms of encouraging kids to try to challenge themselves - the content of the books does matter. Is this system something that is use just for leisurely reading? Do the kids not read a classbook as a group?

    "God's Politics" looks interesting. I will be checking my library for it for sure.

  5. Ooh. Boy in the Striped Pajamas is not popular among my Holocaust studies brethren. In no small part because it communicates certain assumptions about the era and how people related to one another and what people knew in Nazi Germany that are completely incorrect, although it makes us feel better to believe them (for example, that most people had no idea what was going on, even in close proximity to a massive camp system like Auschwitz-Birkenau).

    As to God's Politics... if it makes you feel any better, neither of the parties represent me as an atheist for crap.

  6. *Or so I've heard. I haven't actually read it.


Thanks for visiting La Buena Vida and taking the time to leave a comment--I love hearing from you!

Please know that you do not need to agree with me in order to leave a comment! All comments that are respectful and not anonymous will be published. Thanks again for visiting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.