January & February Book Challenge

Happy 2013 friends!

I’m very excited to get 2013 off to a great start with a January & February Book Challenge. Back in August, I had big plans for Reader’s Quest, which never even really came into existence at my school. After reading Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer last year, I got really excited about the idea of replicating what she does at our school. All of our ELA teachers read the book over the summer and it was very interesting to see how others thought they were or weren’t working along the same lines as what Donalyn does in her classroom. They didn’t all share the same opinions as me, though, so it wasn’t the miracle I was seeking. Also, we do the Accelerated Reader program at our school. I’m not even going to get into that in detail at this point and discuss what we do with it. The biggest obstacle in our getting rid of the program is that everyone feels that we need something to replace it, something to hold students accountable for their reading. So at this point, we’re just kind of stuck.

Bottom line — I can’t keep sitting around scratching my head trying to figure out this AR/Reading Program conundrum. There just isn’t an across the board solution to get all students where they should be with reading. If there were, we would all be doing it already…DUH! I also can’t keep clinging to the “we just moved/there’s a lot of change/I’m just going to take it easy” excuse, either. I did that for the first semester and I’m not overly pleased with where it got me. Don’t get me wrong, the move was HUGE and as a school we experienced a crazy amount of change in 2012. But I can’t continue to dwell on that — it’s time to get on with it!


Back in my early days of wedded bliss, I frequented the message board on The Nest (which is where you moved after your were finished with wedding planning on The Knot). One of the boards was a Book Club, and each quarter there would be a Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall Book Challenge. Basically, there are five “challenges” in each 5, 10, 15, and 25 point category. It really got me to read outside of my comfort zone. It also pushed me to read even more than usual, which was really saying something for me!

I’m thinking that something along these lines will be easier to manage than Reader’s Quest was going to be for me. Each student who chooses to participate will get a log of sorts to track their books and points. I will also have a Schoology group for these students, where each week they can post the books they have most recently finished and their running point total. Each week I’ll post an updated leader board  in the library and on our Friday Video. I’m going to have some prizes, of course. I’m also going to offer this as a competition among the teachers as well.

January February Book Challenge

A book can only count once, even if it could fit into multiple categories. You can only use each category once as well. However, books are not necessarily “locked in” once they’re read — you can move them to a different category as long as the other rules are still met. I don’t think I’m going to do a 25 point category at this time. Typically, the top 5 winners in the previous challenge create the 25 point challenges for the next round. If this is a success, we’ll go that route.

I’m planning to make a promotional video and tracking log of some sort, which I’ll share when it’s completed. And I hope you noticed the cute logo — no project can officially kick off until there is a cute logo attached to it! If you are interested in doing something similar, feel free to use anything I’ve created. The Google Doc with the challenges can be found here, and the logos are available on my Flickr.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…especially if you’ve ever done something similar!

7 thoughts on “January & February Book Challenge

  1. I love this idea! It’s seems like a great way to get students to read outside of their genre comfort zones. I would have been way into it as a middle school student.

    What incentives do you plan on using? Also, I’d love to see the log that you plan on giving to the students to track their reading. Please post again later to let us know how it is going!

  2. I love this idea. I have been looking for a Reading Challenge and this is perfect. I would like to know how you will monitor students to make sure they did indeed read all the books they are claiming to have read. Will they be required to take AR tests on all books submitted to the challenge? Will they have to score a certain percentage on the test? Let me know what you are thinking. Thanks

  3. This sounds so awesome! Thanks for sharing your program!

    I have a couple of questions for you too: do you give out prizes to winners? What are your prizes? And, do you have participation from your ELA department? As a school, we are trying to raise the culture of reading here and this seems pretty fun.

  4. Thanks for sharing your idea…. I have “borrowed” your idea and will be sharing it with students and staff tomorrow!

  5. I love this! I am interested to know what prizes you would offer. I want to them to be attractive to the students but there is always the issue of limited budgets, and I hate using junk food as an incentive. I would love to hear any creative ideas! I’m also looking forward to seeing the tracking log.

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