1. Read without numbers. 2014 was the first year I’ve ever quantified my reading goals, and it was an interesting experiment. I didn’t make all the numbers, but knowing that I had specific targets for different kinds of books helped focus my reading, and I did read more than I ever have before (nearly 700 picture books and nearly 200 books that weren’t picture books. What to call those? Full-length books? Long books? Books for older readers?). The numbers goal was especially helpful for professional development books, YA Shelf of Shame books, and Newbery winners. I only met my target in one of those categories, but I would have read much less in all three areas if I hadn’t had numbers goals to pursue. What I’ve learned about myself, though, is that I can be a tad too obsessive about reaching numbers at the expense of reading the books I most want to read. I barely read any books for adults this year, and while that’s been a trend in my reading life for the past few years, there were books I wanted to read this year but didn’t because they didn’t help me meet any of my targets. So in 2015, I am going number-free.
2. Read more books for grown-ups. Except for professional development and parenting books, I read only a handful of books for grown-ups in 2014. I read reviews of so many interesting books, thanks to the many book blogs I follow, and in 2015, I’d like to try to read some of them.
3. Keep my GoodReads account up to date. My end-of-the-year book stats, reviews, and reflections have been made much more difficult this year because I didn’t keep perfect track of my reading on GoodReads. Last year, I spent the last couple of days of the year obsessively entering in all the picture books I read (I keep a handwritten list), but this year I’ve decided not to spend time doing that. So about three months of picture book reading is lost to me when it comes to running stats. I keep a separate handwritten list of full-length books I read, and that number and my GoodReads number don’t match up, so something went wrong there too. SIGH. Next year, I resolve to be more diligent.
4. Participate in #titletalk. I rarely check Twitter in the evenings so I usually miss the different education and book-related chats that take place each month. But I always love reading the archives for #titletalk. I’m determined this year to schedule this chat on my calendar and participate.
5. Get out of North America. My reading life has become far too focused on North American authors. In 2015, I want to see more of the world through books. I especially want to read about Africa and South America.
6. Abandon the Newbery Gold Medal Challenge. The Newbery Challenge was my least successful reading challenge in 2014. I have hated nearly all of the old Newberys I’ve read or tried to read. The 21 Balloons was the challenge killer this year. I was in the middle of that book for MONTHS before I finally called it and returned it to the library. It’s terrible. Simply terrible. And after that, I had no desire to ever look at a Newbery Gold sticker again. Allowing myself to read out of order and to read Honor books helped me somewhat salvage the challenge this past month, and in fact, one of my top 14 books of the year is Criss Cross, the 2006 winner. I have a fairly high tolerance for boring books, but to my mind, most of the older Newbery winners are simply unreadable. I just can’t do this to myself as a reader any longer. I still plan to finish all the Gold Medal winners from 1990 forward (I only have 4 or 5 books left) because those are books I might conceivably booktalk to my students.
7. Arrange an author Skype visit in one of my classes. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but I’ve been lazy. Kate Messner maintains a helpful list of authors who Skype for free. My dream author visit is probably G. Neri because I am obsessed with his graphic novel, Yummy, and usually assign it in both my Children’s and Young Adult Literature classes. He has a new picture book biography of Johnny Cash that looks excellent too.
8. Read more diversely. My picture book reading life is very diverse, but my middle-grade and YA reading lives are significantly less diverse. I want to change that in 2015. I am probably going to join Rather Be Reading’s Dive Into Diversity challenge. This is a very easygoing challenge with NO NUMBERS associated with it. Since I’m going numbers-free in 2015, that’s important to me.
9. Grow the YA Book Club. This year, Kelsey and I started a YA Book Club on campus. I haven’t been in a book club in years, and I really love this one. It forces me to read more YA, it gets me talking about books face-to-face with other human beings, it gives me a chance to interact with my students outside of class, and it helps my pre-service teachers widen their knowledge of YA lit. All good things! Even though the group of committed members if very small (four!), I have loved our discussions. But one of those four members is heading off to student teach next semester, and so we are down to three.
10. Commit to a tiny Book Gap Challenge: 100 Years of Solitude, Things Fall Apart, and If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler.