School library blocks access to books

I have to share this because it seems bizarre and random. My 11-year old daughter, LingQ name Flowersuccess, has moved up to secondary school. They have a library which has a good stock of books. However she is only allowed to borrow books deemed to be in her age and ability range, which, according to her, is mainly books about children and bananas (no, I don’t know either). The books she would actually read are reserved for the older kids.

This is irritating enough for her. Worse is that she has to read the books about children with bananas, because she gets tested on them. The average score on these comprehension tests is 60%. Flowersuccess gets 100% scores, so the teachers have accused her of cheating. She has had to go in early today to have a closely-scrutinised retest. If she gets 100% on that they will consider revising her reading age range, and maybe even apologise to her.

Her big brother, Whoaholic (age 15), is not at all surprised. The school has only just started to let him read books of interest to him. Last year he was told to take into school the book he was reading. He took in Steven King’s “It”. He got accused of taking in one of his parents’ books to show off, and was let off a detention only after describing the plot to his teacher.

I have come to expect this sort of thing at junior school. Whoaholic’s teachers were making him read books about children with bananas long after he’d discovered the Harry Potter series. But surely post 11-year olds can be trusted to choose their own reading material? After all, they are considered big enough to take themselves off to the local library and pick…er…well, actually Flowersuccess has to take my library card to be allowed to check out the books she wants to read. But how can anyone think this is the best way to encourage a good reading habit in the young?

We just fill the house with books and let our kids read anything they like. Occasionally I warn them darkly that a certain book is “a bit rude” or “will give them nightmares” then pretend not to notice them reading it as soon as my back is turned.

I’m coming to the conclusion that, despite everything they say on the subject, teachers actually don’t know how to manage with skilled readers in the classroom.

Does anyone else have views on kids and their reading materials?

This is a state school, right?

I’ve never heard about such limitations in our library and the school library, but I’ll ask my daughter (LingQ user Vanessa1) if she has experienced something like that.

This is peculiar. What kind of school is this?

Looking at the school work my sister, who is 12 I think, has to do, I get the impression that the main aim of teachers when they make material for kids to learn from is to make it as boring as possible. This appears to be true in language learning too; try to get through an entire article from the ‘Deutsch lernen’ part of Deutsche Welle and you will know what I mean.


As a rule state schools in Germany are pretty good, I think.

Here in England the state system is in crisis - and has been so for at least the last 20 years. (Any effort to reform the system always faces massive resistance from the nutty-left teaching unions which control state schools at ground level.)

I would say most English parents send their kids to private schools if they can afford to do so. (At any rate, I personally don’t know anyone from my own family, circle of friends, contacts, etc who do not privately educate their kids.)

People who have no choice but to send their kids to state schools have my pity - as a rule their kids are going to be at least two years behind at age 16, and will have a very much lower chance of getting a place at a Russell Group university at age 18.

This is our local comprehensive. We could never afford to privately educate our children. Instead we send them to a state school and encourage them to give their teachers some back-chat :wink:

Reading comprehension tests are important Helen. They take away the pleasure of reading. This makes it less likely the child will become a competent independent reader and learner. Ths in turn ensures that the teacher remains in control and can inculcate the correct values in the child. Pushing values at the learner also known as teaching critical thinking. Teachers, by virtue of their certificates are better placed than random strangers to teach values even though the percentage of bumblers, psychopaths etc. is about the same as in the population at large.
If the child becomes a good reader he or she may learn to form his or her own opinions. This is especially not welcome later on in university, where all modern moral issues have already been decided.

@J_for_Jones: I would agree. Most of our state schools are fine. And besides elementary school we are free to chose the school which our children should attend. I think there is no need to send children to a private school. What I do additionally is paying for piano lessons and force her to learn English and French with LingQ too.

@Helen: This sounds quite ridiculous to me. I’ve asked Vanessa. There are no rules in her school library. She can lent every book she wants to. They should be glad that children want to read instead of pressing them into a scheme. But I’m sure that your daughter will succeed again when she gets tested.

My grandchildren are avid readers and mostly read books they borrow from the public library or even books that I buy them. Let them read!

The public school where I teach does not keep books away from children. The school library does the best it can to provide interesting and age appropriate material to our students. The school does this while dealing with budget cuts and the concerns of parents. Students may read any book they wish; however, they may unfortunately not be able to find that book in one of the school’s libraries. If their parents are doing their job, then that child should have access to one of the many free public libraries.

Parents need to work in a partnership with their child’s school. Many parents simply want to believe that their child’s education is solely the school’s responsibility, and then complain about schools when their child does not “reach his or her potential”. As a parent: take your child to a public library, talk to his or her teachers, take an interest in his or her education.

Btw… “I can’t wait to give my students the standardized tests mandated by the state,” said no teacher ever. Also, I bought three copies of the last book in the Harry Potter series and donated them to our middle school library. The five copies that the library purchased were quickly checked out, and I didn’t want kids discovering the ending before having a chance to read the book.

Paula, welcome to LingQ. I hope you will comment more and more on our forum, and that people will then read your interesting profile and sign up for conversations with you. BTW my wife’s mother was from Costa Rica.

Even weirder, to my mind, I have never seen my children bring any books home from school. They can read them in class, but not bring them home. They aren’t even allowed to bring home copies of the books they have to study for GCSE English. Whoaholic says the teachers are afraid the kids will just chew them.

In the British schools I went to, I was always allowed to take books out of the library, and take them home with me. I do not remember there ever being restrictions on which books I was allowed to take out based on my age or class, though there might have been.

I don’t think anything in the British school system (I can’t talk about the systems in the USA or Canada) is designed to stop children from becoming competent independent readers and learners so that the teachers can remain in control and inculcate the correct values into the children. I think this is the result of the school system, but it is not the intention.

Independent learning is not punished in the school system in any direct way that I know about. The problem is that independent learning is not rewarded in any substantial way, and therefore the time that children spend doing independent learning is time wasted when it comes to what really matters in the school system, which is exam results, jumping through rings, and rolling over when offered a cookie.

This is a problem, but I cannot think of a good alternative.

@CPJ: “…This is a problem, but I cannot think of a good alternative…”

Well, one thing is for sure: something went badly wrong with the British state education system at some point since the 1960s. You only have to look at the current government - all but a couple of the cabinet were privately educated! Back in the 70s and 80s that wasn’t the case. And this isn’t a party political thing either. Heath, Thatcher and Major were all state educated, while Blair was privately educated.

So what went wrong?

Some folks say that doing away with selective grammar schools was the bazooka that blew our state education system apart. In my opinion the wacko-jacko influence of the far-left teaching unions has just as much to answer for.

Mind you, private school teachers can be a screwed-up bunch too: one of my teachers (this was back in the 80s) used to tell the class “jokes” about black people which would today (probably literally) see him charged with race-hate crimes…

I think British teachers generally tend to be nutty people - it’s just in their DNA somehow. This was rather nicely depicted in the film “Clockwise” Clockwise - YouTube

On the whole, though, private schools are now streets ahead of most state schools. It isn’t by any means fair, but that’s just the way it is.

It’s a good point from CPJ, I agree.
I remember I “borrowed” about 20 or 30 books from my school and kept them for years. It’s not good, but there it is.
I returned them several years after I had left school, coincidentally to my old A level maths teacher who I really liked.
He was really pleased to see me and did not reprimand me at all.

Books about education:

@skyblueteapot : my granddaughter (first year of nursery school) brings two books a week home, one of her choice, the other part of a reading scheme, to be read with her parents. They then write down her comments about the books on her reading record card (Left-wing-Borough-of-Hammersmith-state-school). For World Book Day children and parents came in 10 minutes early and read whatever they took in. Tablets and Kindles were allowed!

Whatever is going on at your daughter’s school is definitely weird.

I can understand why they want to use a set group of books for testing, but for personal reading I don’t know why they would care. When my kids were in school they were allowed to take any book they wanted from the library. Maybe it is the school librarian just overstepping their boundries.

My little brother is twelve years old and he doesn’t read books at all. :slight_smile: In my opinion kids should read whatever they want.

My son didn’t get turned onto reading until he began reading GooseBumps and Archie comics. While admittedly not high quality literature it kept him engaged for a few years. At the time, his teachers wanted him to read books that were somewhat uninteresting to a young boy-- he did the bare minimum (for school). This was one of the reasons we home-schooled. Now he’s in university and is an avid reader-- indeed it is St. Patrick’s day and he’s reading (for fun) urban history (whatever that is).

Reading level is very subjective. I don’t understand why anyone would want to discourage a child’s interest in reading. Personally I would bring my child to the local public library or simply purchase books from Chapters.


@eevee: "Maybe it is the school librarian just overstepping their boundries. "

Apparantly the school librarian is on her side and conspires with her to smuggle higher-level books past the sensors so the alarms don’t go off.

She’s been ill this weekend so I have been reading her “Nation” by Terry Pratchett. It starts with an awful lot of people dying dreadfully and a teenage boy being left alone to bury them. She’s been listening wide-eyed. Her school definitely wouldn’t let her read it :wink: