The 2018 #Read2BGreat Challenge

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Parents, educators, and advocates: will you pledge to Read 2B Great in 2018? As an initiative, Read 2B Great was created to promote literacy and family engagement for elementary-aged students, but the benefit is applicable to everyone, regardless of age! I’m asking YOU to pledge to read 20-minutes a day, every day, starting TODAY. After all, the best way to encourage good behavior in children is by modeling it ourselves. Here are my 2018 reading challenge suggestions, and I hope you’ll share yours in the comments!

January: Tackle a book that challenged you in the past. We all have books we just couldn’t quite “get into.” Whether you found the topic boring, or the subject matter difficult, it’s normal to abandon a book before it’s finished. Give one of those titles a second chance, and this time, see it through!

When it comes to children, books may get passed over due to reading-level and comprehension. I recommend having kids read the first page of a book, and if they encounter more than five unfamiliar words, setting it aside for later. Make sure to revisit these books – and point out how proud you are of progress made!

February: Read a classic book, by an author of color. I encourage you to seek diversity in your reading material! In honor of Black History Month, pick up a classic by an African American author. Well known authors like Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Ta-Nehisi Coates will be especially prominent this month (you’ll see them in many library and book store “Black History Month” displays.) Why not seek out a lesser known author? Or, if your reading repertoire is heavy in African American authors, consider a title from an author of color in a different demographic – Jhumpa Lahiri, Amy Tan, and Khaled Hosseini come to mind.

I implore you to ensure young people experience diversity in the books they have access to. Though diversity in topics has steadily increased over the past decade, cultural diversity in authors has not. Seek out both to add to your home or classroom library.

March: Share a book with a friend. Ask for a recommendation from your most literary loving friend, or suggest a title you’ll both enjoy. Many book clubs have online guides and suggested questions for discussion. Discuss the book over brunch – maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own book club.

For those of us with kids at home, we should be taking twenty minutes a day to read together (for younger children) or to touch base on progress. Those of us who have young adult readers at home may want to try out a YA book, for a more in depth discussion!

April: Read a book that was made into a film…and then watch the film! This should be a firm rule: always read the book first. Your imagination is more powerful than CGI, so give it a shot.

May: Pick up a bestseller from 2017 – from a genre you don’t usually read. Diversity in reading material also applies to category. A quick Google search can identify every title that earned rave reviews in 2017. Pick the one that appeals most to you, and give it a fair shot.

June: Find a non-fiction title about a person, place, or time period you’ve always wanted to know more about. Whether you shy away from non-fiction in favor of novels, or you have shelves full of autobiographies, there’s an opportunity to expand your horizons here. Consider the last time you were curious about a topic, or needed more knowledge to fuel a conversation. Head to the library and pick up a book on the topic of your choice.

Common Core standards suggest that children should spend 50% of reading time on literature, and 50% on nonfiction. Do yourself, and kids, a favor, by finding fun titles for free-time reading. Here’s a great list of suggestions from Scholastic.

July: Dive into a “beach read,” even if you’re not at the beach. This is a reading challenge, but I don’t want you to forget that reading should be enjoyable! You’ve ventured into new territory for the past two months, now give yourself a treat. Pick up a guilty pleasure, and enjoy it proudly. I think you’ll find time to read more than 20 minutes a day this month.

August: Give a new author a chance with a debut novel. We all have our favorite authors, and with only so much time to spare to indulge in reading, it makes sense to prioritize their books. This month, give a new author a try. You may just discover a new favorite. Here’s a great list of the best debut novels of 2017.

September: Read a banned book. It’s banned book month – celebrate your freedom to read! Unfortunately, there are so many great titles that fall under the “banned book” category. Check out the American Library Association’s list of classic titles here, and most recently challenged here.

Banned books are a fun way to get kids engaged in reading! Let your child choose from a group of preselected banned or challenged book. Make sure to make the context of why it was challenged part of the discussion. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to decide what themes they’re comfortable with their child exploring. With the right guidance, banned books can teach children a great deal about tolerance and a variety of unfamiliar world views. Books that touch on drug use or other unlawful behavior can open up conversations that may be difficult to have, but provide lifelong guidance.

October: Give yourself a seasonal scare with a short story. Whether you’re looking to be terrified or just slightly spooked, I guarantee you can find a book or short story that will get you in the Halloween spirit! Try a classic like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or The Tell-Tale Heart.

Scary stories are also a great way to get kids excited about reading aloud. Host indoor camping, with flashlights, smores, and a pile of (library) books!

November: Revisit a book from childhood or your young adult years, and donate a copy. Every November, #GivingTuesday encourages people to give back to the causes they care about most. In November 2018, I’m asking you to set aside time to revisit a book that was formative in your younger years. Then, give the gift of reading to a family that needs it!

Consider hosting a book drive in your classroom or community, and get students involved in the spirit of giving! Classrooms in low income communities often fall far short of the optimal number of books (300-600 is the recommended ranges), and are serving children that may have few – if any – books available at home. Your book drive can be hands on or virtual, and it’s easy to connect to charities that will assist you in getting the books to schools or families that need them.

December: Revisit an old favorite. December may just be the best month of the year to curl up with a great book. This month, treat yourself with an old favorite, or a new book you’ve been eagerly awaiting. Make sure to make time at the end of the year to set your reading goals for 2019, and beyond!