Posted by: Andrew | March 31, 2010

day eighty-nine: andrew and the case of the disappearing loophole

I love reading.  I even enjoy most required reading as long as there is a group discussion of ideas and opinions.  However, I’m not a fan of required reading that serves no purpose other than making sure you read.

When I was in sixth grade, a new program was instituted called Accelerated Reader.  This program required students to read books and take a twenty question multiple choice test to earn points for that book.  You could choose any books to read, but the higher reading level books were worth more points.  The more points you had at the end of a six-week period determined a portion of your English grade.  DAY EIGHTY-NINE was our librarian who was always so helpful in finding us just the right book(s) that would not only earn us enough points but would also be interesting to the individual.

One might say that I should have read War & Peace and been done with my AR points for that six-weeks.  To that person I say, “Pssh.”  Whether it was just because I didn’t like being forced to read books for standardized tests or whether I enjoyed finding a way around the system, I chose the quantity over quality method.  I decided to quickly read easy books and get my required AR points completed that way.  My books of choice were The Hardy Boys.  They were quick reads and had enough predictable suspense to keep things amusing.  There was also enough of them to ensure a full year’s worth of AR points.  Everything was fine with The Hardy Boys.  There wasn’t a problem.

There wasn’t a problem until I rocked the boat by incorporating the children’s series Hank the Cowdog.  Though I can’t be sure that it was the use of the lower level Hank the Cowdog books that spawned the change, we started having stricter rules about what reading level was acceptable for Accelerated Reader.  Apparently, books 3 grade levels beneath you did not qualify.  Though I know the new rules benefitted us, I stand by the Hank the Cowdog series.  I found striking political parallels between our two-party system and the ongoing Hank v. Pete the Barncat rivalry.



  1. I remember those books. I used to read them just for fun because I thought they were amusing. The points were a benefit, yes, but it was a book I could take in the car and read and still listen to my parent’s conversations incase they needed to talk to me. With most books I get so absorbed that I can’t hear anything until someone taps my shoulder to get my attention. :)

  2. Ha! I had forgotten about those books and how deeply inspirational G/T kids found them.
    :-) Actually, you guys developed great debate skills defending ol’ Hank. One thing I have never forgotten – how the AR program very nearly killed the joy of reading for many students.

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