Reading Goal

A couple of days ago I started reading The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller. I saw Miller’s newest book, Reading in the Wild pop up in our “new at the library” email. It looked interesting but was described as a companion to her first book so I put a hold on The Book Whisperer instead. I’m only about half-way through it but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

Miller expects each child in her class to read at least 40 books during the school year. She allows her students a lot of latitude in what they read but does request a certain number from specific genres. Her requirements are as follows:

Poetry anthologies 5
Traditional literature 5
Realistic fiction 5
Historical fiction 2
Fantasy 4
Science Fiction 2
Mystery 2
Informational 4
Biography, autobiography, memoir 2
Chapter-book choice 9

As I was reading this list, I realized my personal reading would profit from a wider selection. I mainly read for comfort at night and it’s easy to get in a rut. As a result, I’ve decided to create my own reading goal for the next year. I’m still mulling this over but I’m leaning toward the following:

Best Sellers 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2
Christian Fiction 2
Graphic Novels 2
Historical Fiction 2
Informational 2
Juvenile Books 12
Literature 2
Mystery 2
Poetry Anthologies 2
Realistic Fiction 2
Short Story Anthologies 2

Best Sellers
I have a tendency to avoid obvious best sellers. It’s not that I automatically think they’re going to be bad. After all, most best sellers are best sellers for a reason. However, I think I get author fatigue when I see an author consistently in the best seller list. I see the titles and names so much I feel like I’ve already read the books, even when I haven’t, and don’t want to take my time to do so again.

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir
I have a had time reading non-fiction that isn’t immediately useful to me. I have no doubt that biographies, and memoirs have value but I find it hard to care.

Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends
When it comes to fiction, Jaeger and I read the same genres but read different sub-genres. I’ll let Jaeger come up with a list of books he thinks I should try and I’ll pick a couple of them. Note: I have specified fiction books. I have no desire to try to wade through The Generalissimo.

Christian, Graphic Novels, Historical, and Mystery Fiction
These are all genres that are hugely popular within our library district. As a result, I feel like I should have a bit more familiarity with them than I do. I did read a lot of Christian fiction back when I was a teenager but I’m not very familiar with the recent trends. I’m also going to exclude the few mystery authors that I already read regularly from qualifying for this list since the idea is to expand my horizons.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about this one. I do read a fair amount of non-fiction but it’s all very specifically targeted to whatever is currently relevant in my life. I read a subject obsessively and then stop when the books start repeating each other. I wonder if I should pick specific informational subjects to read. I’ll have to think about this one a bit more.

Juvenile Books
My main purpose for reading in this category is to become more familiar with books Calvin is likely to enjoy in the coming years. Of course, I remember (and usually still own) all my favorites from when I was young. However, I’m sure there are many wonderful books that have been published since I was a child. At the moment, I don’t have a good feel for what types of books are available for the juvenile audience these days.

Growing up, I read a lot of classic literature. However, I haven’t read much recently and should probably get back into the habit. Contemporary literature might be a good place to start.

Poetry Anthologies
I don’t like poetry. I really don’t. It’ll be good for me to see if I can find poetry I do enjoy. If nothing else, it’ll be a good experience for me. Maybe. My main reason for caring about poetry is I want Calvin to have an appreciation for it. I doubt it’s something he’ll acquire unless I, or someone around him, can get excited about it.

Realistic Fiction
I’ve always been a genre reader. I think it’ll be good for me to try reading whatever it is that gets shelved in the regular fiction section.

Short Story Anthologies
Like poetry, I don’t like short stories. I think it’s because by the time I get into the story, it ends. It’s very annoying. Maybe I can consider short stories little trailers for the type of stuff different authors write.


  • Donalyn Miller had a rule for her students that if a book was over 350 pages, it could count as two books. I think that bar is a bit low for me. However, if a book is particularly large, I might consider counting it as two books. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, is on our bookshelf and is staring me in the face. It might be interesting but it looks awfully thick.
  • I reserve the right to cross two categories off at once if a book falls into both.

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