In Book Love, my favorite professional development read of the 2012, Penny Kittle writes of the importance of setting goals for ourselves as readers. Readers, she points out, have plans. That’s one thing that sets readers apart from non-readers.
I require my students to read a lot in addition to the course required reading, and I have always set the goals for them. This semester, I am inviting students to set their own goals. A student who took my Adolescent Lit and Children’s Lit courses gave me this idea. She set her own challenge to read all of the Newbery winners, which is a significantly more ambitious goal than what I’d set for students, but this reading goal didn’t fit into the parameters of how I’d designed the independent reading projects for these courses. Some of her Newbery reading counted for her grade, but much of it didn’t because it didn’t fit into my goals.
I think the goals we set largely depend on who we already are as readers. I’m asking my students to commit to a certain amount of time spent reading outside of class. For students who aren’t already readers, finding books they enjoy reading (and want to use in their classrooms) and meeting the weekly time requirement will be challenging enough. For students who are readers, there are all kinds of ways to challenge themselves further.
A couple of good blog posts exploring how we can help our students set reading goals can be found here and here. The latter post, especially, is great for future teachers, as the author, Danielle Maroney, includes interviews with her elementary students about their reading goals and graphic organizers she uses to help students articulate their goals.
My goals usually focus on the number of books I want to read and the genres I want to explore. Sometimes I have particular interests I want to learn more about too, and sometimes I join reading challenges.
Here are some goals I have for 2013:
• Complete the Newbery Challenge. (If you’re looking a challenge to join, check out Novel Challenge, a great resource for online reading challenges.)
• Read as many books on Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month” lists as I can.
• Read all the Newbery, Printz, Coretta Scott, Pura Belpre, and National Book Award for Young People’s Literature winners and honor books.
• Have one children’s book and one young adult novel in progress at all times.
• Read more nonfiction for children and young adults. (Because I really loved Phillip Hoose’s book, Moonbird, and Russell Friedman’s photobiography of Lincoln.)
• Read 200 books this year. It’s been years (like since I was reading for my Ph.D. exams) since I finished 200+ books in a year, but that’s always my goal. It doesn’t matter that I never exactly reach it!
• Read at least 350 picture books this year. Maybe start a Caldecott challenge to give that a little focus?
I also love an idea I read about on this blog post about reading goals: donating $1 to my public library for every book I read this year. I love my libraries and take great nerdy pride in having (and using!) library cards in three different states.
I also enjoyed reading about these different writers’ resolutions for 2013.