What is the problem with paper reading logs/calendars?

When I was in grade school in the late 70s and early 80s at A.W. Johnson Elementary in Firth, Idaho, my second grade teacher sent me home with a paper reading calendar. My job was to record how many minutes I read every day.

When I sent my oldest child to second grade in 2009, guess what he brought home? A paper reading calendar that looked just like one I used more than 30 years previous.

Paper reading calendars are cute, and obsolete

Paper reading calendars do not fit into the lives of today's families. Parent of young children are digital natives. They interact with the world through their smartphones.

If your reading is not easily accessible through a mobile app, your families are not likely to participate. They simply will not hold onto a sheet of paper for a week, month, or entire summer.

Another issue with these paper reading calendars is that they have a one size fits all goal for an entire classroom or large groups of students.

In any given classroom of students, you have

·   The top third who read at or above grade level.

·   The middle third who hover around grade level

·    The bottom third who read just below or way below grade level.

When you deploy a reading program with one goal for an entire classroom or grade level, you’re catering to the top half of that middle group. Advanced readers will be bored and not want to participate because the goal is easy to achieve  it's very easy, and the bottom third are going to be frustrated because the goal is unachievable.

What about the other two-thirds of your readers?

Adaptability is the key to success

Effective reading program meets students where they are and challenges them to do more.


Quality reading programs allow readers to move to more difficult, or easier, goals in response to their changing proficiency and needs. This means creating multiple reading groups in one classroom or grade level. Then, framing up the program such that students know they can move up, or down, depending on how they participate.


With adaptive reading programs, you invite every child to engage in a relevant program that meets his or her needs.

Reader Zone offer allows a librarian or teacher to deploy multiple reading groups in one classroom or grade level—then give the opportunity to move students as needed with no additional work by the librarian or teacher.