Reading Challenge 2013/2014

2013 Reading Challenge


I’ve been keeping track of how many books I read per year for several years now.  In 2013, I decided to set an actual goal and make it official by pledging it on Goodreads.  Prior to last year, my annual book count was usually in the 70s.  So when I set last year’s goal, I decided that 100 books would be a nice, slightly-challenging-but-still-achievable goal.  I decided that I wouldn’t count picture books or rereads, but I would count middle grade, YA, adult fiction, nonfiction for both children and adults, and graphic novels.  And for most of the year, I kicked butt!

And then I moved (which is basically the theme for my entire 2013).

By the time I was settled into my new place, I was about 4 or 5 books behind schedule.  And suddenly, my heart was no longer into it.  I realized that throughout most of the year, reading had become similar to marathon running for me.  There were a lot of books that I started then stopped because they were taking me too long to get into, and I didn’t want to waste the precious time when I could have been reading something else.  There were also a lot of books that I simply skimmed through, barely taking anything in, just so I could finish and log it on Goodreads.

I continued reading and logging my books on Goodreads, even as I fell further behind my goal.  I ended the year with 86 books (not counting those that I started and stopped).  If this was a high school 100 point test, I would have gotten a B-.  And I’m okay with that.

My official Goodreads goal for 2014 is 40 books.  Which, I know, sounds ridiculously low.  And I honestly expect to greatly exceed that goal.  However, I don’t want reading to be a marathon.  I’m setting the low goal this year so that I can take my time with books.  So I can plow through slower books that I nevertheless want to finish.  So I can settle down with an old favorite and reread it without worrying about falling behind on my goal (I’m still not counting picture books or rereads for this low goal).  So that if I want to take a yoga class or spend a weekend hiking, I can do so without worrying about the books I’m not reading.

Maybe some day I’ll feel like tackling a 100 books goal again.  Or maybe someday I’ll be on a committee and be required to read a lot of books.  But for right now, I’m going to focus on quality instead of quantity.

(Now watch me read 100 books this year just to spite myself.)

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 54,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

While I started 2013 off with a bang for this blog, things have definitely been slow on the posting front these past couple of months.  Now that I’m really starting to get settled in at the new job, I’m hoping to be able to blog more.  However, I’m already predicting that 2014 will be a year of transition for this blog.

While I’ll still post as many storytime plans as possible, they will be fewer and farther between.  I’m a part of a great team at my new library, and we split storytime between everyone.  Which means some months I’ll be doing 3 storytimes, and other months I might be doing only 1!  This is a big change from my last library, where I was doing about 3 storytimes per week!  While I’m sad that there won’t be as many storytime posts on this blog, I’m also very happy that I won’t be getting storytime burnout any time soon.  Also, less storytimes means I get to focus on other things!

You’ll be seeing more posts for programs that are geared towards older, elementary/junior high kids in this blog.  You’ll also be seeing more posts that deal with technology/makerspace movement (I’m doing a 3D printing workshop in February, which is very, very exciting!).  I’m also really hoping to try my hand at book reviews, because I really struggle with those (plus I haven’t touched my NetGalley account in months!).  And I’ve got a few other series-like posts that I’m plotting out in my head.

So 2014 will be a year of more blogging!  But it also might be a year of a few bumps and hiccups as this blog makes the transition from a mostly storytime blog to a blog that focuses on a little bit of everything.  Hang on to your reading glasses, folks!  This is going to be interesting!

A Year in Review

January 10th was my one year anniversary of being a full time children’s librarian!  This year has flown by so quickly, yet when I think back to my first day on the job, it seems like eons ago.  While I did receive training in certain areas, a lot of what I’ve learned has been through trial and error.  Here are some of the things that I have learned this past year:


  1. Everyone has their own way of doing storytime.  My way is 70% excitement and movement and giggles, and 30% calmly reading out loud while children quietly sit and take it all in.
  2. There are some days when storytime just needs to end a little early.  If it’s not working, then it’s not working.
  3. Some kids are just shy and will spend a whole year of storytime not participating.  The day that that shy child starts participating will be a great achievement for both the child and yourself.
  4. Other kids will saunter into storytime, tell you their names, introduce you to their stuffed animals, participate in every way, and tell you every opinion they ever had on the book you’re reading.  Knowing when to encourage this behavior and when to emphasize quiet listening is a skill gained only through many storytimes.
  5. It’s important to have storytime rules.  It’s even more important that the adults in storytime are aware of these rules.
  6. Make sure your flannelboard is secure.  You don’t want it falling on the children (like it did the very first time I tried my hand at a flannelboard…I’m happy to say that I haven’t had any mishaps since.)
  7. Have a backup song or fingerplay for those days that the kids are especially wiggly.

Collection Development:

  1. The books you order for the library are not your books.  Do not get too attached to them, because they will eventually get damaged, lost or not returned.
  2. Likewise, you are not buying for you, but for your community.  You may hate Bob the Builder with a fiery passion, but if the kids in your community love him, you will buy Bob the Builder books.
  3. Sometimes a book will come out and it’ll be written very poorly and get lackluster reviews, but you know your patrons will love it so you end up buying it.
  4. Alternatively, sometimes a book will come out with raving reviews, but you know it’ll only sit on the shelf and collect dust in your library.  That’s when you make the difficult decision over whether to buy it just to have or to pass it up.
  5. While weeding, clean the dirty books before you decide whether to keep them or get rid of them.  Sometimes a good cleaning is all a book needs to make it look like new.
  6. Do not let salesmen guilt you into buying books you don’t need.
  7. Know your collection.


  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new.  If it doesn’t work out quite how you’d like it to, you’ll at least learn what to do next time.
  2. Having volunteers to help out is a great asset.  Know which volunteers would be great at helping at programs.
  3. Like storytime, make sure everyone’s aware of the rules.  And maybe where the bathrooms are too.
  4. Don’t be afraid to utilize community members and organizations.  You’ll be surprised at how many would be willing to help out in some way, and it can be great outreach for both you and them.


  1. Always smile while on the desk.  Make sure you know exactly what the patron is asking.  If you’re having trouble finding something, do not be afraid to call up a coworker; sometimes two heads are better than one.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.  Work on the weaknesses.
  3. There are many ways to determine reading level of a book.  No way is completely 100% accurate.
  4. Have a book display for the older kids and a book display for the younger kids.  Mixing the two doesn’t work too well (can’t blame an older kid for not wanting to look at a display that has picture books mixed in with chapter books.)

I could probably go on and on, but those are some of the main things that I have learned during my first year.  Over the next year, I hope to improve on:

  1. Coming up with and delegating projects for library assistants and volunteers.
  2. Reader’s advisory.  I know my collection pretty well, but I’m trying to read more and there’s always room for improvement.
  3. Book reviews.
  4. Puffy paint.  I hope to one day be as good as Miss Mary Liberry!
  5. Doing different types of programs for different ages.
  6. Outreach.  I already work a lot with teachers and community members, but I’m sure there are outreach opportunities that I’m missing as well.
  7. Blogging.  Both this blog and the one I keep for my library.