We’ve made that New Year’s Resolution. Perhaps we purchased that gym membership. We bought new shoes and workout digs. We are ready except for one thing…we need a plan. If we don’t lay out those clothes, if we don’t make time in our schedule, if we don’t connect with a workout buddy our resolution can quickly fade into desperation. The same is true with so many endeavors in life-reading is one of them.
I hear many people say, “I’d like to read that.” or “I wish I had more time to read.” If we simply wait for that time to magically appear-we can be sorely disappointed. We don’t have to develop rigorous or authoritarian plans to become better readers-perhaps we just need to be more intentional.
What can we do? Develop a Reading Plan!
Join a community of readers. This is one of the best things we can do to build an authentic reading life. Surround yourself with reading buddies! We can join a face-to-face book group if we are lucky enough to find one nearby. All of us can join a virtual community. My favorite is Goodreads. It is free and you can join groups, friend other readers, and get lots of recommendations based upon the books you rate. I can keep track of all the books I read and organize them by shelves. You can click on this TUTORIAL to help you get started. There are other virtual communities such as Shelfari ,Copia, or Biblionasium (for classrooms) Some have a monthly fee such as Scribd. As with all communities-find one that is best for you.
Engage on social media. Almost everyone is on Facebook. Lots of people create pages or albums to share the books they are reading. I created my 40 Book Challenge 15-16 to post the books I am reading this school year along with a quick review or blurb. I also created a group called The Best Places to Read 2015, 2016 where I invite friends to post pictures of some of their favorite reading spots. I’ve joined or liked pages such as Nerdy Book Club or Reading Group Choices. There are dozens!
Twitter is a fantastical place for book lovers! You can follow authors, publishing companies, and other nerdy readers/book lovers! There are twitter chats you can participate in. My two favorite are:
#titletalk (last Sunday of each month 8-9pm EST-here’s an archive )
#MELit (2nd Sunday of each month 8-9pm EST-CLICK HERE)
I also follow a lot of hashtags to see what is up in the world of kidlit and reading: #nerdybookclub #MELit #
#tlchat #reading #txlchat #readYAlit #engchat #publib #yalit #kidlit readingtime #bookaday #SharpSchu #booklove
OH, and don’t forget Pinterest! There are a bazillion boards for readers and book lovers! You could be lost for days on that site!!
Create a TBR. A “to be read” list is a pile of potential new friends and adventures. You’ll never be without them if you keep a list or pile of ‘on deck’ books. Jot down titles from chats, add books to your shopping cart/wish list, gather books you are excited about! It’s been years since I’ve sat and wondered “Hmmm…I wonder what’s good to read?” Its now, “Hmmm..which book shall I open next?”
Create or engage in challenges. Some of my favorites have been the traditional
- 40 Book Challenge started by Donalyn Miller in her book The Book Whisperer,
- Book-a-Day challenge each summer vacation (and occasionally other vacations)
- Goodreads Reading Challenge each year.
I’ve recently seen other challenges on Facebook like this one from Modern Mrs. Darcy
This will challenge me to choose some books outside of my traditional selection criteria and offer me exposure to books I might not otherwise encounter.
Make Time. Sounds like a ‘no-brainer’, but if you don’t have a routine reading time and/or you don’t schedule yourself some book time days will fly by with no pages to show for it. Is there a tv show that’s just ‘so-so’ that you watch out of habit? Schedule that time with a fantastic book instead. Many of us have reading rituals -I read in the tub, I read before I turn out the light, and I’ve added a new one this vacation…I call it T’read’milling! It doesn’t work if I run, but I don’t mind substituting a fast walk for a jog if I can bring along a favorite book!
Read for YOU! Reading should be fun. It should teach you something or enrich your life, but it isn’t something you should do because others think you should. We “should” on ourselves too much as it is in life. As adults we don’t answer comprehension questions. We don’t keep a response journal that someone will grade. We read and respond to books in ways that feed us.
This is what I wish for everyone: to find books that lift you, surprise you, teach you, challenge you, comfort you and speak to you. This wish is for adults and kids alike. We can better help our students connect with books and reading when we know what that process feels like. May you all approach reading with more intention in 2016.
What’s on My Book Radar?
This vacation has been so wonderful for my reading life! Some of my very favorite books these past two weeks have been:
ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan
I’ve never read a book quite like this one-part fairy tale, part realistic fiction with the musical thread of a harmonica that ties it all together. Three children all come into possession of a mysterious harmonica with a red M painted on the side that brings ethereal music into their bleak lives. Friedrich-an ‘undesirable’ in Nazi Germany, Mike-an orphan in Philadelphia, and Ivy -a migrant child in California all find comfort and magic in this music. Ryan reveals real life history through the eyes of children who needed to find strength and courage to endure. Don’t let the size of this book intimidate you-I flew through the pages and want to read it again!
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead
Three middle school friends face real life challenges with only one rule for themselves-no fighting. But some situations and choices challenge that rule. Bridge survived an accident that should have killed her, Tab tries to find ways to make the world more fair and just, and Em finds out how social media and a private relationship can collide with devastating consequences. Rebecca Stead weaves a wonderful story that shines a light on the real life choices, challenges, and relationships that face today’s youth. A “YA” (young adult) book that is perfect for all middle school readers!
THE HIRED GIRL by Laura Amy Schlitz
14 year old Joan Skraggs suffers mercilessly at the hands of her hardened farmer father and older brothers after her mother dies. When she can no longer take it she flees with money her mother stashed away for her, changes her name, and finds a job as a hired girl in Baltimore. She sees life from a very different perspective, learning about faith, family, and forgiveness. I was expecting this to be a bit stuffy and dry-but I learned a lot along with our heroine.
THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick Wow! Brian Selznick has created another masterpiece. Do not be intimidated by the size of this book. I read it in a day and want to read it again! Brian is a master storyteller whether using words or beautiful drawings and he always manages to pull things together in unique and surprising ways. This story will bring you from 1766 to the 1990s with mysterious adventure and intrigue. LOVE!!