Reading Challenge Ideas for Kids and Adults
Ah, a fresh decade is such a tidy feeling, don’t you think? As a short-sighted, math-challenged five-year-old, I remember wondering if I’d be alive in 2000. Whoops! Here we are, twenty years past the furthest future my kindergarten self could imagine.
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I’m starting out this futuristic decade with a couple of fun reading challenges. I’ll be plotting them in a brand-new notebook — this dotted Leuchterm1917 bullet journal. (Any else suffer from the fear of messing up a new journal, or is it just me? My writing always seems so messy. I like printing and pasting, though.)
I read 15 books in 2019, so I didn’t make my goal of 24. I’ll try again for 24 this year.
My Favorite Book of 2019
My top book this past year was Many Worlds: A Russian Life by Sophie Koulomzin. Even though I finished Many Worlds in January, no other book I read all year came close to topping this one. It’s also no surprise my favorite book was in my favorite genre, memoir. Or more specifically, memoir by a female who emigrates to another country. I’m a little predictable in that regard. But these types of books always speak to my third-culture heart!
“Even now I find it so difficult to put into words why this encounter with Russia was so important for me. I always felt that leaving Russia, separating myself from its fate, was like an unhealed wound. I have a full and happy life outside Russia, but I was always conscious of this separation as a pain. Now I had again come briefly in touch with life there and suddenly realized that there was no absolute break, no complete separation…”
I’m surprised we haven’t seen Sophie Koulomzin’s life on the big screen, honestly. Born to Russian aristocracy, Sophie saw the 1917 Revolution, the Russian Civil War, WWI, and lived in the United States briefly during the Roaring Twenties. As if that wasn’t enough for several lifetimes, she experienced WWII in France, had stints in Estonia and Berlin, and re-entered Russia again briefly while it was the USSR. An incredible book; I highly recommend it.
My First Book of 2020
Since I read a lot of non-fiction, this year I’m pushing myself to look beyond non-fiction and memoirs. So I started Song of Sirin by Russian-American author Nicholas Kotar, the first in a series inspired by old Russian fairy tales. (Okay, I didn’t say I was pushing myself toooo far out of my comfort zone here. Fantasy isn’t my go-to, but Russian culture is, so…)
I’m only one-fifth of the way through, but I’m captivated by the depth of the story — and feeling a little ridiculous for not reading it right away when it was recommended to me. My favorite quote so far:
“Sometimes the heights are moved by our fervent supplication, sometimes they are silent for our hidden good. I wish that Voran will find the strength to choose the right away among all ways, though it be the most painful.”
Scroll down here, and you can read a free sample of Song of the Sirin.
Looking for a reading challenge for you?
I’m intrigued by the Literary Life Podcast’s 20 for 2020 Reading Challenge. The categories encourage a wide reading across many genres, which coincides with my personal reading goals as well. Categories I’m especially looking forward to include
- A foreign / non-Western book
- A book of essays
- A biography or memoir (surprise!)
- A devotional work
- A book about books
Categories I am rather meh about include
- A satire
- An ancient Greek play
- A classic detective novel
While I’m not going to plan out the whole year in advance, I’ve already decided I’ll re-read A Merchant of Venice as my Shakespeare play (thanks for the 1935 copy, mom! :)) Although Venice could also count for the high school reread category, I might pull out A Tale of Two Cities instead. I received a copy of Nathan Coulter for Christmas, so I’m counting that as my contemporary novel. (And if you’ve never read Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter, stop everything and go buy a copy now.)
For the Classic Children’s Book Category, I’m choosing Pinocchio, since I’ve never read it. Aveline starts the Veritas Press Pinocchio Study Guide in a couple of weeks, so we’ll read it together. (We missed it when doing Literature 2 — this year we’re doing a mashup of Literature 2 and 3 titles.)
While I was writing this, the Scholé Sisters 5×5 in 2020 Reading Challenge landed in my inbox, too. Five books in five different subject areas — this might be the perfect spot for non-fiction books not covered by the Literary Life challenge. Hmmm.
Reading Challenge Ideas for Kids
An absolute book fiend, Aveline has no trouble zooming through mass quantities of books. So rather than set a strictly numerical challenge (she’s exceeded 500 per year for the last couple years), I wanted to focus on an in-depth, focused challenge instead. Several friends pointed me toward the 2020 kids’ reading challenge hosted by Redeemed Reader, and it looks perfect! (NOTE: It’s only free until 31 January 2020, then it moves to the shop — so if you’re interested, go download it now.)
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with her reading hundreds of books. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a kid reading too much, actually. But since counting the number of books read wouldn’t be a challenge, we’re excited about this category-specific challenge. With prompts such as
- a book with a dragon
- a book which has been turned into a movie
- a verse novel (oh — have you read Inside Out and Back Again?!)
- a book with a great cover
- a book about a war
it’s like a scavenger hunt!
Do you challenge yourself to read a certain number of books per year?
Maybe you map out specific genres? Or choose a single theme? Are you joining any of the challenges I mentioned above? I’d love to know!