Every year we resolve to exercise more, eat better, stop procrastinating, and we succeed or fail to greater or lesser degree. This year, we’re encouraging our scholars, families, teachers and other colleagues across Success Academy schools to make reading resolutions – resolving to read MORE and read BETTER to nourish themselves as readers. Yes, cardio and veggies are important to our health, but maintaining a vibrant intellectual life is critical to our collective mission to provide the best possible education for kids.
Last year, I resolved to winnow my to-be-read shelf down by 20 grown up books in two months. (Just so we’re clear: “to-be-read shelf” is a euphemism. There are at least 100 books waiting to be read in my apartment—an entire small bookcase, and yes, several piles on the floor.) I could read them, or I could give them away. While it might seem strange for a person as passionate about reading as I am to get rid of books without reading them, they were grown up books. I mostly read children’s and teen books because of my work, so getting rid of grown up books that weren’t very important to me was a great way to refocus my attention on the books that did deserve my time.
I haven’t quite decided on my resolutions for 2015, but I definitely want to read more short stories. I love the classics like “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Harrison Bergeron” and “All Summer in a Day,” but I haven’t read that many contemporary short stories for adults. I also want to read more poetry. I read quite a lot of poetry already, but I discover new poets and poems all the time.
Everyone’s reading resolutions will be different, but to provide some inspiration, we created three Reading Resolutions flyers, which you can download below for your own use, tailored to different groups.
Elementary school children make reading resolutions with their families because they need their families’ support, both practical and emotional, to grow continuously as readers. Their families invest in their reading growth by committing to talk about books every day, visit the bookstore or library together, or memorize and perform poetry.
When middle and high schoolers make reading resolutions, they are taking charge of their own academic futures. Of course kids this age still get tons of support from families and teachers, but they are also old enough to reflect on their own reading habits and think about the improvements they want to make. Whether it’s reading beyond their preferred genre or committing to trade entertainment screen time for reading time, their decisions will help them become avid independent readers.
Our teachers and leaders make reading resolutions too because they know that part of helping our scholars become better readers is nourishing themselves as readers. Whether they’re working their way through their classroom libraries to read all the books their scholars are reading or simply recommitting themselves to reading more poetry, the grown ups here will model their passion for reading all year long.