It’s that time of year when I start thinking about the reading challenge I am going to set myself for the year ahead.
Lots of people I know sign up to the Goodreads’ Reading Challenge, however, I find the thought of a numbers-driven challenge absolutely anxiety-inducing. I personally do not find this type of challenge motivational. And, after completing a 1000 kilometre running challenge in 2016, I know that a similar type of reading challenge would not be right for me!
The Goodread’s Reading Challenge does also not really fit with the other reasons I like to set myself a reading goal each year. One of the main reasons I set a challenge is to share it with the students. I display my latest challenge in the foyer of our school library to show the boys that even experienced readers can be challenged and that there are many different ways to approach these challenges.
I also like to set a public reading challenge to promote a reading culture within our school, and to show that reading can be a social activity. Some of the challenges I’ve undertaken have been really good at prompting student discussion. I especially appreciate it when boys give me reading suggestions to help me along with my challenge.
On a personal level, I like a reading challenge to broaden the types of things I read. Left to my own devices I would be entirely happy reading police procedurals, narrative nonfiction, and anything written by Anne Tyler, Kate Atkinson or Margaret Atwood for the rest of my life. Sure I’d be happy – but I wouldn’t be very good at recommending engaging reads suitable for the teenage boys I work with!
Some of my past reading challenges have been more successful than others. The challenges that I have failed at have tended to be ones where the focus has been too narrow, for instance, historical fiction, and haven’t taken into account my need to remain current with the library’s latest book stock.
Challenges I have undertaken so far have been (photos to follow):
- 2016 – Reading A-Z: for each letter of the alphabet I read books with titles starting with that letter and a separate book that was written by an author whose name started with that letter (ACHIEVED)
- 2015 – Reading Through the Ages: for each century AD (until the 19th and then it became each decade) I read books that were either written or set during that period (FAILED)
- 2014 – Reading Bingo: this one has probably been my favourite so far. I used Random House’s Reading Bingo cards (I completed both as 25 books didn’t seem like much of a challenge). This challenged me to read widely and also some students elected to join in. (ACHIEVED)
- 2013 – Read Around the World: for each country in the world I read books that were either set there or written by an author who came from there. This challenge was made harder by the fact that I am only fluent in English! (FAILED)
- 2012 – Read as High as Me: this required me to read a stack of books as tall as myself. This was not too hard as I’m pretty short – but this challenge probably prompted the most discussion with students. (ACHIEVED)
With all this is mind, I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be the year that I read harder. Using Book Riot’s Read Harder challenges from this year and last year, I’m going to personalise a NBHS Read Harder challenge. Using Book Riot’s ideas, I’ll create a list of 52 book types that will challenge me to read widely, allow me to keep up with our latest book stock, and encourage a few of the students to join in too. I’ll get back to you when my list is complete.
How about you? What reading challenges are you giving yourself this year?
Edited to add: here is my personalised read harder list. Wish me luck!