This week in my Children’s Literature class, I have invited my students to design their own reading plan for the rest of the semester. Last semester as I tried to transition this course to a reading workshop, I asked students to commit to a reading challenge at the beginning of the course when most of them weren’t sure what their interests and needs as readers were. In fact, most weren’t sure yet if they were readers. Making a reading plan before they were ready became simply another assignment. A reading life externally imposed by me rather than a reading life intrinsically driven by their own identities, preferences, wishes, needs as readers.
This semester, I postponed asking students to make reading plans and set reading challenges until they had more experience as readers. For the first few weeks of the semester, they’ve selected their own reading from the lists of Caldecott, Newbery, Sibert, Schneider Family, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, and Golden Sower award winners. They’ve gone to the library and checked out books that appealed to them for one reason or another. They’ve reflected on what their reading preferences say about them as readers. I hope they’re ready now to create a reading plan and commit to a reading challenge that’s personally meaningful.
How might they challenge themselves as readers?
The answer to that depends on their goals.
Here are some possible goals my students might think about:
- Develop a historical understanding of children’s literature by reading the “classics”
- Investigate key authors and illustrators in children’s literature
- Read more deeply in one or more awards
- Develop expertise in a particular genre (poetry, graphic novels, contemporary realistic fiction)
- Explore appropriate grade-level books for readalouds, mentor text study, and reading clubs
- Create a text set for a subject across the curriculum
- Create a text set for a particular group of readers–reluctant readers, gifted readers, etc.
- Read the entire oeuvre by one or more children’s authors or illustrators
- Select a “best books” list and read as many titles as they can (I especially like Fuse #8’s Top 100 Picture Books and Top 100 Children’s Novels)
Students might also think about time and numbers challenges. Students who are struggling to read for four hours a week might challenge themselves to reach that goal each week. Students who are motivated by seeing the numbers add up on their GoodReads list might challenge themselves to the #bookaday challenge or the 40 book challenge.
We’d love to hear about how others have challenged themselves as readers and made meaningful reading plans in the comments!