Accelerated Reader: Good or Bad for Kids?

January 28, 2020

Five young children sitting on a park bench reading books.

If you aren’t familiar, Accelerated Reader is a program used for children between kindergarten and 12th grade that tests the students’ comprehension and monitors how many books the students read. If a school adopts this program, students are fundamentally expected to receive a certain amount of “points” each quarter, semester, or school year. Points are determined by how long the book is and how well the student responds to the corresponding test after completing the book. There are strong arguments for both the opinion that Accelerated Reader is good and that Accelerated Reader is bad. Do you already have an opinion? We’ll take a look at both sides of the argument in this blog.


Accelerated Reader is a program owned by Renaissance. Renaissance also produced Accelerated Math, Star Assessments, myON, and Freckle. According to Renaissance, “Accelerated Reader puts students in the driver’s seat. You guide students while engaging quizzes and activities to help hone students’ reading skills with authentic practice—encouraging growth.” The company encourages teachers to instill this program within their classrooms because they claim it pushes students to read more and focus more on the comprehension of the book. Since books are ranked based on the student’s year in school, the “levels” of books are meant to guide students and help them grow the more they read. It is expected that all students do not read on their exact grade level. Many students read below, on, and above the suggested reading level of their year in school. In summary, people on this side of the argument believe Accelerated Reader is “good” because it encourages students to read more, engage more with the books they read, and it helps students grow in their reading.


Parents, and even some teachers, are coming forward and exposing the problems they are witnessing with Accelerated Reader. The basis of this side of the argument is that this program is causing students to either lose or never gain the love of reading. It places reading in a “box” that makes students see it as a race to get the number of points required, then they are done. Many students experience anxiety during quizzes and tests. Therefore, people on this side of the argument believe that this program causes students to associate reading with anxiety because they know they will be tested on the book. Essentially, people who think Accelerated Reader is “bad” believe it takes the fun out of reading, and it causes students to view reading as something that is required for a grade - therefore, causing students to dislike reading.

So, now that you’ve heard both sides of the story, which side do you lean more toward? Is it more important for students to efficiently learn reading skills and do it often for a grade? Or, is it more important to instill a love of reading in students? Do you think there is a middle ground that could be met to accommodate both sides of the issue? Reading is, in fact, great and we love it! Visit our website to learn more about the genre-specific subscription plans you can sign up for today.