I love the start of a new year. I love reflecting on what worked in the previous year, what I need to change, and what new adventures I’d like to begin. But, I think my favorite part of the new year is our annual family reading challenge.

Two years ago, my oldest daughter and I began what is now one of our favorite traditions, and challenged each other to read 50 chapter books in one year. We have had so much fun motivating each other to read, and find we spend less time on “time-wasters” like tv.

This year, my oldest son joined the challenge. He is typically very hard to motivate, and despite being an advanced reader, doesn’t normally choose to read. He has already completed several chapter books and frequently checks our lists, making sure he is keeping up. (He is very motivated to “beat” his mother, and reach 50 books before me!)

The kids are allowed to select their own books, but I keep tabs on book length. For example, if my fourth grader reads two short chapter books in a row, I prompt her to select a book more at her level for her next read. I like to mix up the type of books I read as well, and have found myself dipping into new genres over the course of the last few years.

It is so rewarding as a parent to see my kids so motivated to read. I love the changes in myself as well – and find that I am so much happier with my nose in my book compared to my eyes on a screen. Reading is just magical.

If you’d like to start your own reading challenge, here are a few tips:

Choose a reading goal that is attainable for your child!!

If you set your goal too high, your child is likely to become overwhelmed, feel like a failure, or become discouraged. The goal of the reading challenge is to motivate your child to read more, not become frustrated or stressed! Keep the goal within your child’s reach.

If you are in a family of voracious readers, consider joining us in our 50 (or 52!) books per year. Other goals could be 12 books (1 book per month) or 24 books (2 books per month.)

Keep a List

When we began the challenge, we kept track of my daughter’s books by creating a paper caterpillar around her room, one title per paper circle. It was adorable, but difficult to keep track of, and we often forget what books she’d read. Now, I print out simple numbered lists that hang in our homeschool room.

Make sure to record each book as you finish it. I like to add the date we finished each book as well. It’s fun to see how many books we each read each month, and discover if there are surges and dips in our reading patterns.

I personally keep track of my own books on Goodreads as well.

To Compete or Not to Compete

Kids and families are so different. Evaluate the type of child you have and decide whether or not a “competition” element would help or hinder their progress. Some kids are very motivated to “win” while others become immediately frustrated.

We try to downplay the idea of “winning” and encourage each other to each meet our goal within the time frame. At the end of the year (or whenever we all reach 50), we go out to dinner. The person who first reached 50 books gets to choose the restaurant. This seems to be the perfect amount of “incentive” for our family. Some kids may feel like the accomplishment is enough of an incentive, while other families may want to do more. Do what works for you. There is no right or wrong.
Most of all, HAVE FUN!!! Happy reading! Let me know if you are taking the challenge, and what your reading goal is in the comments below.

Need Ideas for Your Kids? Check out my popular post, 100 Chapter Books You NEED To Read To Your Kids