Reading Challenges 2018

You know what I really don’t need to do right now? Sign up for more reading challenges. I do this to myself just about every December, and the challenges fall by the wayside with alarming speed.

But they always sound like so much fun! And there’s something about the new year that just makes me want to set ridiculous goals. The one that first dragged me down the rabbit hole for 2018 was this one:

The Grand World of Books Book Bingo 2018

The challenge: get a BINGO any way you choose. I tend to like to go for “black-out” or “cover-all” when it comes to things like this. I kind of assume I’m going to read at least 24 books over the course of the year anyway.

2018 is the second year of this challenge, but I didn’t hear about it last year, so I’m jumping in now!

One challenge that I did know about in 2017 was Book Riot’s Read Harder. I didn’t do terribly well at it, frankly, but it’s a new year and a new set of tasks. I’ve put all 24 of the tasks for Read Harder 2018 in BINGO card format, because… well, mostly just because I could.

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018) is another challenge I’ve attempted and abandoned in the past. But I’m here again, aiming for the Mount Blanc level (24 books). We’re not going to discuss how very many books are actually in my personal Mount TBR, thanks.

(Much of my TBR on GoodReads consists of books I want to read but do not own, making them ineligible for TBR challenges. So, you know, the hundreds of books marked “to-read” over there don’t really count. Kind of like sock yarn purchases when one pledges to knit from stash. Right? Right.)


I figured that while I was at it, I might as well join in The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader. This is a 12-book challenge, with the requirement that the 12 books (plus two alternate selections, just in case) be specified by January 15th, 2018. I’m working on my list now.

Of course, it won’t be all TBR, all the time around here. I’m also joining in two challenges that speak to my professional as well as personal interests.

The Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom is a very self-directed challenge. Qualifying books must have been “published in the decade of your birth or before.” There are no monthly themes, and you set your own goal. I’m going to aim for 12 books, because one per month seems like a good goal..

Some possible titles:

  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  • It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  • Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Yes, there is a certain Newbery winner/honor theme going on there. That’s because I’m doubling up with the Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves

This is a fun, points-based challenge. You pick a level to aim for (15-75+ points over the year), and books are awarded 3 points (Newbery winner), 2 points (Newbery honor), or 1 point (Caldecott winner or honor).

I’m going to go ahead and aim for the Konigsburg level (75+ points). In addition to the books I’m lining up for Old School Kidlit challenge, I always go back and read the new Youth Media Award books that I didn’t get to before the announcements in January. Caldecott books tend to pop up throughout the year in my Storytime selections, too.

Two challenges that aren’t about quantity of books read also caught my eye.


The 2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews seems like a perfect fit for me. There will be a monthly check-in post over at Becky’s site for it. Expect to finally here about some of the new-to-me teas I’ve been trying lately.


The 2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge is a new challenge for me, and one I’m hoping will help me perk this place up a bit. It’s been quiet around here for quite some time. My goal is the “Creative Conversationalist” level (11-20, but my personal goal is 12). Who knows: maybe I’ll even pop a new podcast episode in here sometime in 2018!

There is an astounding array of reading challenges out there. I had two or three more I was considering, but I decided that really would be pushing it too far.

One thing I didn’t find: a Sherlock Holmes Challenge. I’d really like to read through the Canon over 2018. My Doubleday single-volume is 1122 pages, which divides into 21-22 pages – about two short stories or a couple of novel chapters – per week. Anybody want to join me on this one?

While you’re thinking about that, I’m going to go sip a cup of honeybush vanilla tea and read something.

Reader’s Advisory Challenge Redux

Ever since I saw the Reader’s Advisory Challenge for 2013 posted on Angelina41’s tumblr, I’ve been turning the idea over in my head. Reader’s Advisory is a tricky business, and those of us who’ve been around for a while can easily fall into the trap of recommending the same old books again and again. After all, Librarians can’t really spend our entire day reading (wouldn’t that be great, though?), and it’s so easy to fall behind in terms of new releases. It’s even easier to fall behind in those genres you’re I’m not drawn to.  And for Librarians brand-new to Youth Services (by choice or by chance), the sheer volume and variety of Children’s Literature can be… overwhelming.

I fell into Children’s Librarianship after spending my two years of Library School focused on the techie side of things, planning to become a Systems Librarian. Instead, I discovered how much I love working with kids, and just how rich Children’s Literature is. In 2008, I moved into a position where I work with Children’s Librarians at 10 other branches in addition to my responsibilities at my own branch. Not long after, my very large public library system went through several years of staff shake-ups, with early retirements, lay-offs, transfers to fill the vacancies left behind, and re-hires. Working with some of these new-to-Children’s Librarians, I’ve heard their questions about how to get up to speed.

I think something like the Reader’s Advisory Challenge is a great idea, and one that I can adapt into something that will work in a live group setting. The Children’s Librarians in my area already have a regularly scheduled meeting, and collection development is one of the topics we discuss. In 2013, I’m going to add a Booktalk Roundtable to our agenda, with a monthly theme for which each Librarian will pick a book to read before the meeting and booktalk to the group. We’ll all find out about new books, get to hear examples of booktalks, and practice our own booktalking skills. I’ll definitely be using some of the (sub-)genre’s from the original challenge, but some will be replaced.

Themes for 2013:

January – Past Newbery Winner
February – Fantasy
March – Funny
April – Novel in Verse
May – Sports
June – Science Fiction
July – Graphic Novel
August – Realistic / Contemporary
September – Mystery
October –  Scary
November – Historical Fiction

All books will be Children’s Books, which, for us, means written for kids roughly age 12 and younger. (There are some Newbery winners that we consider YA, so those would be exceptions for January.) Want to read along with us? I’ll post my reviews here, and I’d love to hear some suggestions of titles for the different themes!