This is why the AR book program is a joke

by James Wigderson | November 17, 2015 8:11 pm

Those of you who are parents will know about this program for kids in grade school. The AR program is supposedly set up to make kids read. They need to accumulate so many points before they can go to the next level. Rather than encourage kids to challenge themselves by reading something a little difficult but interesting, the kids end up being encouraged to read a bunch of short books within their comfort zone to accumulate the points. Worse, if the book is above the child’s assigned “range” then they can’t even read the book.

Even more frustrating, the book rankings and points granted are often ridiculous. For example, if a child wants to read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare, a story probably most 7th graders (or younger) could master quickly, the child has to be assigned a range that includes 10.9. That’s right, according to the AR program a kid can’t even read the book until they are nearly at an 11th grade reading level. Yet reading the book only gives the child three points. Now compare that to two lesser books with titles ripped off from Shakespeare:

ar program

How does the AR program encourage kids to read?

Here is my advice to any parent who finds their kid stuck in the AR program. Tell the teacher right away that your kid is going to miss their “goal.” Instead, you are giving your permission for your kid to read anything in the school library. And if they just have dumbed-down, uninteresting books in the library that are just great for making AR goals, be prepared to buy some books online.

By the way, while A Midsummer Night’s Dream is for 11th graders, according to the AR program, Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land is at a 5.6 book level. Group sex, polyamory, parodying Christianity… Yep, parents, you can give that to your kid in grade school, and it’s 25 points, but no Shakespeare.
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