Reader program devalues love of books

Veronica Walker

Kudos to Joanna Roper’s Aug. 6 letter to the editor concerning the Accelerated Reader Program.

I applaud and echo her thoughts and sentiments.

Not only is the Accelerated Reader Program not a substitute for balanced reading instruction, I do not believe it fosters a love of reading for lifelong reading and learning.

Quite the contrary, reading is seen as a chore where you must select material from a predetermined list and then take a written test on it.

I have seen the disappointment on a child’s face when told by a parent they cannot borrow a certain book because it is not on the AR list or it is on the AR list for a different level.

While the library’s circulation may see some increase during the school year as a result of the AR program, many children opt not to participate in the Library Summer Program to take a “break from reading.” Even though summer reading at the library is a read-what-you-want (with no tests) program offering rewards, fun events, and activities, I have not seen the increase over the last few years I expected, given the increase in our local school enrollments.

To me, this equates as a decrease in the number of youth who want to read for the pure enjoyment of it.

The Accelerated Reader Program has value if used as a supplement to the language arts/literature program, but I think it is often relied upon too heavily.

I feel the AR program actually discourages independent selection of books, devalues reading and discourages the development of lifelong readers.

Veronica Walker

Washington District Library children’s librarian