I was talking with a mom friend on the phone this weekend and her husband kept beeping in. He had been sent to the library to pick up more books for her child’s school read-a-thon. You would think this would be a fairly easy task: choose some books around your child’s reading level that he or she would be interested in reading. Bring home a bunch since it is a competition.
But apparently it’s not that simple – at least not at my friend’s school. I can’t decide if she’s being very clever or if her child’s school is way too competitive. Here are some examples of her read-a-thon strategies:
The most important thing a mom can know is at what page number the point value of the book increases. This mom didn’t want the 136-page book because at page 137 her child would get an extra point for reading just one more page. So you need to pay attention to where the point breaks are at all levels and choose books that just barely qualify for that next point level. (That would never have occurred to me.)
The next big discussion point at her school is do you count the pages with illustrations on them? One mom started taking out the pages with illustrations so then the other mothers felt like they were cheating if they included them. My friend thought it depended on how many pages were illustrations, but for the most part she was including every numbered paged in the book.
The final tricky point to consider is how low of a reading level can they read and not feel like it’s cheating? It’s a heck of a lot easier to get through shorter, easier books but they may be below your child’s normal reading level. I know our school cares about being with certain reading levels for AR books but I’m not sure about the read-a-thon.
I can’t decide if my friend is thinking too hard about this or if all moms are thinking this hard and I’m the only not being strategic for read-a-thons.
What’s happing at your house? Have you actually looked at point cut-offs so you’re getting maximum points for your efforts? Do you count illustration pages toward your total? Do your kids read below, on or above grade level for their read-a-thon books? Have you ever considered any of these points?