In 2022 my goal was to read 12 books, which is roughly the national average of books read a year. This is also one book a month, which felt doable for me. I was very into reading when I was younger, but then life became busy and finding a good routine was hard to get into, especially after having kids.
But 2022 was my year to change that. I made reading a priority, which was the biggest factor in finding success. I also trained my brain to listen to audiobooks. I had a hard time focusing on listening to anything from podcasts to audiobooks, so I took the time to slowly acclimate myself to listen when being read to. Once I felt like I had audiobooks down, I had to train myself to pick up physical books to read them. All of it took work and time, but I was making reading a priority!
Possibly one of the hardest things for me to do was retrain my brain to pick up a book instead of picking up my phone to scroll through social media. Whether we like it or not, social media has us trained to feel like we are missing out if we’re not on it constantly, so it’s easy and natural to open Twitter and Instagram multiple times a day without really thinking about it. It’s mindless. But once I replaced my social media time with reading, it gave me ample time in my day to finish more books.
By the end of March, I had accomplished my goal of 12 books. So I set a new goal to finish 50 books by the end of the year, and I ended with 53. How did I make such a huge jump from rarely reading to finishing 53 books in a year?
Because reading begets reading. This is true for adults and kids. Once you’ve gotten into and finished a book, it’s so much easier to pick up the next one and continue reading. And if the next book you picked up happens to be the first book in a series, well then once you’re finished, you HAVE to find the second book ASAP! And while you’re reading that book, a friend hears that you’ve been really into this series and suggests another similar book that he knows you’re just going to LOVE. So then you have to read that book when you’re finished. And once you’ve finished the book your friend suggested, you may stop reading for a time because you just blazed through so many books so fast. But once you give yourself some time, it’s not as hard to pick up the next book your librarian set aside for you because she heard it’s the type of book you really like and she thought of you when it was returned by the last person.
Reading begets reading, and once you start it’s much easier to keep going. A few tips I want to share if you or your child is trying to make reading more of a priority:
Reading can and should be fun. Do not read historical WWII novels or Jane Austen if that’s not what you’re into. Just because it seems “educational” or “better literature” doesn’t mean it’s something you have to be into. If reading cheesy romance novels or fantasy books is what you’re into, then read those. If you’re reading words on a page that work together to create sentences and paragraphs and chapters, then you’re reading.
Join a book club. This can be a great thing or it can backfire, that’s up to you and the book club you choose. Oftentimes book clubs rotate which book they’re reading and let members pick the book, which can leave a lot of variety and can sometimes make it hard to finish a book you’re not into. But it can be a great thing to have people who also read the book and loved it come together, sit down, and enjoy discussing what everyone did and didn’t like.
If you’re finding it hard to pay attention to an audiobook, find a mindless activity to do while listening. Simple games to play on your phone, knitting or crocheting if you’re into that. Or even go for a walk! Something to keep your hands busy while you listen.
Pick a book that’s also a movie. The book will always (ALWAYS) be better, but sometimes it can be great motivation to finish a book so you can watch the movie.
Find the right platform. We are lucky to have reading available in so many different formats! But it can be overwhelming. Try out physical books, audiobooks, a physical eReader, or an eReader app on your phone, tablet, or computer. Whatever works for you, stick with it. You don’t have to be reading physical books every time (or ever) to have it count as reading.
Dedicate reading time. For me, it was in the evenings before bed, that was the easiest time for me to pick up a book or listen to my audiobook. Maybe for you, it’s right after school? Maybe it’s first thing in the morning. Once you’ve dedicated reading time and made it a habit, it’s easier to do more and more often throughout the day.
What things do you do to help you make reading more of a priority?
Photo by Rahul Shah