The reading record, and why you can’t trust five year olds

Parenting and life

I have a confession.

We messed up.

Not in a total disaster way, really, but it’s a disaster to a 5 year old.

(But then again, a lot of things are).

My oldest has a reading record from school.

As most school children do, I expect.

In the reading record, you’re supposed to make a note of the books your child reads and then make some kind of comment about it. I don’t love doing it; sometimes it takes me longer to come up with a sentence to describe how I think my daughter felt about a book than it does to type out a full 500-word blog post, but it’s definitely not the world’s worst parenting chore.

Anyway, for some foolish reason my husband and I both believed her when she said it was for recording school books and school books only. She is as trustworthy as five year olds come really, so we never thought to doubt her.

We usually get through about 1 or 2 school books in a week, alongside her bedtime stories and books we get from the library.

By the middle of last term that was about 14-15 weeks worth of books, so not that many.

And then, one evening, I was idly scrolling through Facebook and noticed that one of her classmates was the chuffed recipient of her 50 book certificate.

FIFTY books? Surely that would take longer than one full term, I thought.

Plagued with doubt I referred back to the laminated sheet.

And there was a back to the laminated sheet.

We didn’t read the back of the laminated sheet.

According to the instructions, which were right there in black and white, we were supposed to be writing down every single book she reads or has read to her, even magazines, whatever. And we hadn’t been doing it.

And because we hadn’t been doing it, she didn’t get her certificate like every other child (she may be exaggerating here, but she seemed awfully sad about it) and aren’t we the just worst parents?!

It’s just a piece of paper to us… But to a five year old it’s a Very Big Thing, much more than a piece of paper. 

And of course, although she loves reading and as if by magic she’s suddenly doing it, we should be encouraging this however we can, and we did it wrong. 


So now we’ve upped our game and we’re recording everything.

Glanced at a cereal packet? Read a rude word scrawled on the wall of Wetherspoons toilet (Don’t judge, we all love a Happy Monkey Smoothie)? Into the book it goes.

We ran out of space in the reading record on the first day of the holidays. But dammit she wants her reading award and it’s our fault she doesn’t have it so we’ve made our own sheet and we’ll do it or die (probably of boredom after reading the same book over and over and over) trying.

Lesson learned: Never trust what a 5 year old tells you rather than reading the laminated sheet of rules.

If something is laminated, it’s laminated for a reason.

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