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A Framework for Purposeful Reading
Setting Reading Goals for the New Year

by Deanna Knoll

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Would you like to be more purposeful in your reading this year? A brand new year provides the perfect opportunity to set goals for reading. Reading plans, charts, challenges and recommendations from your favorite website or blog provide many suggestions for setting such goals, but with so many good choices to narrow down, where do you start? And, with so many great options for planned reading, you can easily find yourself derailed somewhere mid-March if you take on too much or your selected plan doesn’t exactly fit your personality, lifestyle or stage of life.

Choose a Framework

We’d like to assist you in choosing reading goals for yourself and determining the best way to implement them. While choosing specific books to read is often a very personal choice, figuring out a framework for doing so can be a virtual team effort! Here are some possibilities to consider when determining what your personal reading goals could look like for the new year.

Life Goals
Often the new year offers a chance to evaluate what is important in your life and what you want to focus on moving forward. Consider choosing books that support those goals. Do you want to become more literate in classical music, write poetry, learn to bake bread, or plant a garden for the first time? Why not choose books that support you in your quest?

For example, if gardening was your goal for the upcoming year, non-fiction selections could include a how-to book, a creative design volume or a book highlighting useful plants; or, consider reading a fictional book about a person who loves to garden for inspiration. There are many ways to incorporate a variety of genres into your life goals.

If I were to choose this plan and use gardening as my goal to focus on this year, here are some possibilities for me:

Gardening in the Pacific Northwest: The Complete Homeowner's Guide
Master Simon's Garden
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
Grow: A Family Guide to Plants and How to Grow Them
Gladiola Garden

Pre-reading for Homeschooling
Choosing the best books for your children to read as a part of their schooling can be challenging, particularly if you have a voracious reader. Perhaps consider sitting down with your child and discover what they are looking forward to reading about in the coming year, or begin selecting books for the coming school year. This will give you an opportunity to look ahead for books to pre-read and know that you’re comfortable with their reading selections during 2023. If you have an older student who will be mostly independent with their schooling, pre-reading even one or two books will make discussions with your child so much more fruitful.

Reading Challenges
Some of our favorite bookish websites and personalities create unique reading plans that often spur both avid and occasional readers to accept a reading challenge. Here are some of the Biblioguides Team's favorites:

Schole Sisters 5x5
This reading challenge will encourage you go deep into 5 specific topics during this next year. By reading 5 books on one specific topic, you will have the opportunity to develop a much greater understanding of it! For example, you might choose Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Snow, Organization, The Crusades, and British literature from the 18th century and then select 5 books about (or from) each of those topics to read. They can be simple picture books or a heavy research tome. The joy of this is how flexible it is—you choose what you want to read about!

The Literary Life
The Literary Life's reading challenge theme for 2024 is "Book of Centuries" and features categories from literary history.

Read Aloud Revival
A reading challenge doesn’t get too much easier than this! You and your children commit to reading for 25 minutes each day for a month. (If this is new for you and your family, may I suggest combining it with a fun snack and a riveting book! Also, good picture books can be great for all ages and keep everyone engaged. If you don’t feel capable of reading out loud, consider an audio book!)

Redeemed Reader
This is a reading challenge for kids, teens, and grownups. You'll read 10 books each on 10 different mini-challenges. The Reading Challenge is free until January 31, 2024.

Guiding Word for the Year
Another opportunity for choosing good books this year is to read books that coordinate with a chosen theme or word for this year. Rest, gratitude, gifts, solitude, creativity or light are a few possibilities to inspire your life this year, and books can be chosen around that word. Perhaps I might choose the word, “Simplicity.” Here are some possibilities:

At Home in Mitford
The Harvester
Simplicity Parenting
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace

Join a Book Club, Virtual or In Person
Finding a group of like-minded individuals (possibly friends or not!) to discuss books with can both motivate and inspire you in your own reading. While a book club in person can be very enjoyable, during some stages of life that may not be possible.

Two of our Partner Guides host stimulating discussions and we'd love to introduce you. The Plumfield Moms invite you to join them each month to listen in on their book club podcast (members of the Biblioguides team are regular guests!) and the subsequent discussion in our Biblioguides Community. Potato Peel Pie Society (PPPS), another Partner Guide, hosts multiple book clubs in their Facebook group.

Make It Work for You

Remember that if you don't read all the books in your chosen framework, that's okay. You won't be assigned a grade if you didn't make it through all of the Shakespeare Tragedies this year. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances alter our best-laid plans and sometimes we simply take on too much. Don’t be discouraged! Take a deep breath and do a quick audit periodically throughout the year: do you want to continue in the same framework, or change course?

How Biblioguides Can Help

Biblioguides can help you and your kids find just the right books for your reading goals this year. Try out the Advanced Search by typing in your parameters and we'll provide book suggestions along with descriptions, an inside view of the book, reviews, content considerations, and more to help you decide if a particular book might be a good choice for you.

Like the first page of a new book, January 1st offers a chance to begin anew. With the new year stretching out in front of you—365 days are available to use as you deem best. Will you choose good, true and beautiful books to fill some of these precious hours ahead of you? We hope you do! And let us know what perfect book you've discovered this year. We'd love to appreciate it with you.

Deanna Knoll

Deanna Knoll

Family on my mind and in my heart. Book lover, outdoor enthusiast, pediatric physical therapist, musician and library builder.

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A Framework for Purposeful Reading


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