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I just had two fourth-grade teachers ask me about starting an AR program at my K-6 elementary school. Have any of you had experience with AR? Are any of you using it now? Do you know what would be involved in getting the library/MARC records ready to launch an AR program? Any idea how expensive it might be or how long it would take to establish? Did/do you have positive results using the program? Sorry for all of the questions, but they invited me to attend a meeting with them and our principal tomorrow morning, and I want to be prepared to intelligently discuss the issue.

Thanks for your expertise!

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I run personalised reading programmes for all students from UK Y5-Y11. I do not use AR and from anecdotal evidence would choose not to. Getting kids blogging about their reading e.g. setting up an account on is far more 21stcentury relevant and leads to far more reader-independance. Struggling readers,including ELL follow remedial programmes run jointly between EAL specialists, English dept and the library, with a strong home-link. This forms a strong support team covering all the bases.

And talking of crazy celebration dances... I try and fit one of those into EVERY day in my library - there are SO many things to cleelbrate with my readers :-)



I like the idea of blogging to encourage reading. I will be the media specialist at a middle school and I hate the AR program. This gives me a starting point since we are becoming a one to one school.
As typically applied, AR sucks the joy right out of reading. I've seen it turn libraries into nothing more than AR warehouses and heard testimonials from kids about how oppressively it's often administered that would break your heart.

Hello, catching up on my long overdue correspondences needing a reply:

Well, if you read carefully, my sentiments as stated---careful planning of implementation with lots of built in flexibility promoting quality of reading does not sacrifice building the love of reading based upon student interest. Actually, it allows the librarian to still promote the love of reading along with, at the same time giving collaborative support to the goals of the school/school district; and in particular, the classroom teacher in meeting/his/her goals to build competence readers while still loving  to read books.

Hence, like it or not, in any instance whenever school librarians are able to tie the  library with the expected reading literacy goals of the school, the librarian is perceived even more as being essential, thus saving his/her role as school librarian. I retired last June and my role as school librarian was never in jeopardy----plus, the position was not closed upon my retirement.

My school (grades 3 - 5) uses AR. At first, I hated it, to be honest. I thought it killed love of reading and made it just another chore for students. However, I have discovered that when it is used correctly, kids really respond well, and do indeed become better readers. It HAS to be used as an incentive program only - which makes it tough on teachers in a way. Also, as a librarian, when students as you for a book "in their level," you always have to first turn it back to what they enjoy reading, and choose a book within their level from there. Along these same lines, I NEVER label books on the outside, or group them by level. That would encourage students to just pick a book simply because it is in their level, not because it interests them. It is time consuming, but if it is used correctly, can be valuable.
Also, a side note: it is NOT server based anymore - It is entirely web-based, which is nice. Also, check out the "Renaissance Home Connect piece - which allows parents to see what's going on with their student, and gives the kids a cool way to keep tabs on their own progress.
It's kind of hard to give a pat yes or no answer in this forum. Starting AR really requires a lot of thought and preparation. If you don't have the books labeled, students become frustrated. Definitely take your time with the decision, and have a consultant come in.

Go with free-voluntary reading instead.  The research is with it, and look what it can do.


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