Reading Challenges

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Why a reading challenge?

Reading challenges are so much fun! I love participating in them because they so often introduce me to new books I would not otherwise have read.

I’ve gathered a list of some reading challenges you may like to try out in your classrooms or families or simply have on hand to recommend.

I’ve annotated the list of reading challenges, so you know what to expect from each of them.

Some reading challenges are categorical, meaning that rather than recommending particular titles, they recommend types of books (a book that was turned into a movie, a book that was recommended by a librarian, etc.). These can be really effective for having different levels of readers participate in the same challenge.

Book Challenges

  • Popsugar’s reading challenge is the topical kind, and it’s divided into two parts: 40 types of books for the basic challenge, and then an additional 12 for the “advanced” part. It’s got a printable checklist. You’d have to adjust the challenge for kids (one of the advanced challenges is a book over 800 pages!), but that would be do-able. It can be done as-is for teens.
  • Hannah Braime offers two topical reading challenges, one of 26 books, and one of 52 books. The 52-book challenge is also geared to slightly older readers (it includes reading a book of non-fiction essays, for example).
  • Imagination Soup shares a topical list for kids with twelve suggestions. She also has Pinterest boards with recommended books by age (they’re listed at the bottom of the post).
  • ModernMrsDarcy offers another topical challenge for older readers, but it’s much shorter. It only has twelve suggestions, so it’s very achievable.
  • If you or someone you know is a Gilmore Girls fan, MomsSmallVictories shares a Rory Gilmore reaching challenge that has a printable list of the over 300 books Rory Gilmore is seen reading onscreen. Yep, over 300. No pressure.
  • Obviously I’m going to mention the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading program. It’s an evergreen program (meaning no start or end dates) broken down by grade level bands. Just print and read! This one is a titled list, meaning kids read specific books. This is the one with a prize: if readers read all of the books on any one of the lists, the Mensa Foundation will send them a certificate and a free t-shirt, no strings (or Mensa membership) required.
  • The Greenwood Elementary School Library in Newport News, Virginia, has their school reading challenge posted. It’s broken down by grade levels, and is a great place to find different challenges for elementary-age readers.
  • Edutopia has a challenge for 4th-8th graders. It’s not super fleshed out, but it gives you an idea of a leveled challenge (earn recognition based on books read).
  • I have a Little Free Library in my yard, and Little Free Library has a 50-book challenge.

Make Your Own:

If none of these challenges appeals to you, or if you like the idea of a DIY challenge, consider having kids create a challenge for you or for themselves.

They can make a list of books or types of books they want to (or think you should) read. Teachers could have students create a reading challenge and share it with another classroom in the same grade, or they could create one for students in a lower grade.

You can also set a pages read goal as a family or a classroom.

Challenge Yourself:

Reading challenges work best when they’re not inflicted on kids. Invite, don’t push.

One of the best ways to do this is to have the whole family participate. Plan a celebration of some kind for when the challenge is finished.

Although some of the challenges listed are for a calendar year, there are no reading challenge police. Do what works best for your family. Don’t worry about deadlines. Concern yourself only with immersing yourself and your children and students in the wonder that is reading.

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