Monday, November 11, 2013

I have failed as a reader

I finally know how students feel. How I made them feel. Like failures. I have failed as a reader. How do I know?

Just look at my reading log. No, I don’t have a paper reading log, and my mom doesn’t need to sign anything. But I did create a reading goal this year on Goodreads. An ambitious one, actually-- I set out to read 365 books this year. Basically, a book each day. I knew it would be a stretch for me, and I was excited to have set a public reading goal.  Of course, I would count picture books. I read at least one of these each day to the 52 cute and busy kindergartners I supervise at lunch. Last year, I read several books a day to my first graders in my classroom. I belong to a book club and I also love to read professional books. I set the goal in January and was actually doing pretty well! And then, some time around May I got a new job and my life got crazy busy planning and preparing for this school year - my first year as a principal in an elementary school.

Crazy busy? Yep. Too busy to read? No way! I did have to change what I was reading when I found myself too tired to read books that required deep thinking or concentration, or books that took place in geographical settings with which I was unfamiliar. I started reading more Young Adult and Kid Lit books that were recommended by my reading community on Twitter. I was still reading, and the books were shorter. You would think this would help my reading goal. But take a look at my Goodreads challenge tracker. This is a screenshot from yesterday.

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 84 books-- 23% of my goal, significantly less than what I set out to read. According to Goodreads, I am 63% behind. There is no way I’m going to meet my goal. There is a little over a month left in 2013 and I just don’t think I’m going to read 281 books in that time. I have failed as a reader- just check my reading log.

Did I really fail? I don’t know. I know I read a lot of books this year. I would even say I read most every day. On any given day, if you asked me what I was reading, I could tell you, and I’d probably even tell you what I wanted to read next. I love reading! It’s true, my summer reading included some of my favorite reading-- Sunset Magazine, Sierra Heritage, and even Oprah’s magazine. I read every book club book except one-- The Penguin Guide to the Constitution-- because I just didn’t want to. What I didn’t do is record my reading on my log. The only log I have- my Goodreads log. I read a ton. So why do I feel like a failure?

Truthfully, I hadn’t really even looked at it too much until yesterday. But when I realized that it was November, I felt a sense of panic. I knew I had read a lot of books. Right away, I started logging books on to Goodreads that I knew I had read. I looked at the pile of books on my nightstand, and I even looked up my Amazon orders-- 44 in 2013! That doesn’t count the books I borrowed from friends, or the books I purchased excitedly at Powell’s or other used bookstores I visited this year. After logging about 10 books, I stopped.  What was I thinking? What was I doing?

I was doing the same thing students do every week in schools. Some don’t read much, I know, but many, just like me, read every day. And they forget to log it. These are the same kids that we complain have all of their books entered in the same color ink on their reading log they return each Friday because we know their parent filled it out in the school drop off line that morning.  Just like I was trying to do yesterday when I realized that I hadn’t logged enough books, all of the wonderful books I read this past year.

I’ve decided that next year, I will still be setting a reading goal, and I may even use Goodreads to track it. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll blog about it. Maybe I’ll put pictures of the covers on my book door at school. Maybe I’ll just write the titles in one of my notebooks. Maybe I’ll talk to my friends about what I’ve read, or even recommend books to students. Maybe I’ll do all of it. But no matter what, I won’t feel bad about it if I don’t get one book written or logged anywhere. I’ll still be a reader and a book lover. No matter what my reading log says.

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