Reading Goals in the Classroom

One thing I love to do in the first week (well, month) of a fresh new year (or decade!) is to set a reading goal for the next 52 weeks. Some years my goals are simple: read 60 books during the year. Some years, they’re more complicated: read 20 current nonfiction books, 10 novels in translation, 30 books by women, and a long-form essay a week.

stacks of books lining a hallway

Whatever my goals are, it always feels satisfying and exciting to see the reading road ahead.

For adults, sites like Goodreads makes it easy to set a goal and track your progress. What about kids? Are students setting their reading goals in classrooms, libraries, and homeschools? Should they be? Because for every person who attacks their reading goals like a leftover holiday cheese platter, there are plenty of people who prefer the structureless reading journey. Should educators be helping kids set reading goals or leaving them to discover what and how much they want to read?

Many teachers and librarians see a lot of value in reading goals, and the New Year is a great time to set up some goals or revisit and revise goals that were set at the beginning of the school year. Here are some tips for reading goal-setting in the new year!

Make sure kids have plenty of input in deciding on a goal. We all know how reading goals, or any goals, can turn out. Plenty of enthusiasm during the first conversation, which wanes and even disappears entirely, despite persistent reminders on the educators’ part. Part of the reason this happens is because when someone sets a goal for you instead of you setting that goal, it’s harder to stay interested and invested in the outcome. So what if you don’t make it to the finish line that someone else drew in the sand? Make sure kids have plenty of choices when faced with the opportunity to setting a goal, so they’ll be just as excited as you to work towards that finish line.

Goals don’t have to be public. Not all kids read the same, and not all reading goals should be the same. And to make sure kids don’t feel badly when their goal is a much shorter stack of books than everyone else’s, don’t make it policy that everyone has to share their goal.

Record, not reward. Part of making a goal and working toward it is keeping track of your progress. Checking a box can be a very satisfying thing to do after finishing a book! This doesn’t mean, however, that by checking boxes you are working your way toward a pizza party or movie day, or even a new pencil. Research is still being done around the usefulness of rewards when it comes to reading, but whether or not you use rewards in the classroom, they don’t need to be tied to students’ reading goals.

Collaborative goals might be the way to go! When the whole class is working toward a shared reading goal, there’s often more motivation to accomplish their reading tasks. Plus, it can be more fun!

Make time and space to reach reading goals. Nothing derails a goal like a difficult home life, or hunger and housing issues, or major life events. Making time in the classroom to read is an essential part of supporting kids in reaching their reading goals.

What are your reading goals for 2020?

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