I'm just taking a break from the holiday festivities to wish all of you a happy and book-filled 2015, and to share a bit about my plans for the blog in the coming year.
If you need reading suggestions, the Cybils Finalists will be announced tomorrow, New Year's Day, at 7:00 am Pacific Time on the Cybils blog. I've seen a preview and let me just tell you that there are fabulous lists of kid-friendly, well-written titles in eleven categories, from picture books to nonfiction to graphics to poetry. Stay tuned!
As for my own reading, I had an informal goal of reading 50 middle grade, 50 YA, and 50 adult titles this year. I ended up finishing with 55 middle grade, 38 young adult, and 48 adult (on top of hundreds of picture books). Reasonably close. You can see the complete list here. I struggled the most with reading YA this year, and had to abandon several titles unfinished. It's not that there weren't plenty of amazing young adult books published this year. It's just that I spent much of the year rising very early to exercise, and found that the shorter length and lighter density of middle grade titles worked better for me for bedtime reading. Most of the adult titles that I read were ones that I listend to while walking in the mornings, so staying awake wasn't a problem there. It just turned out that my overall goal to "read more, sleep more, exercise more" had some internal conflict that I hadn't anticipated.
I also logged 1763 books read aloud to my daughter by my husband and myself. That one is a lower bound, as it doesn't necessarily count books that we read when we were traveling, or that her babysitter read to her. Still, that's nearly 5 per day on average, which isn't bad. I'm guessing that the overall tally will be lower next year, as we invest more time in reading chapter books vs. picture books. But hopefully we'll spend just as much time, or more. She's breathtakingly close to really reading on her own, I think, and we continue to enjoy the journey.
In that light, I would like to point all of you to a fabulous post from Ami at Bunkers Down on The Best New Year's Resolution You Can Make. This, according to Ami (and I agree with her) is: "Read to your kids." Ami outlines several of the reasons why reading to your kids is the best thing that you can prioritize for 2015. Like this:
"Children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills. Did you know that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher reading AND math scores? However, as our kids get older it is easier and easier for them to stop reading for fun. Increased activities, more access to technology, and developmental pitfalls all take a toll on reading for pleasure. Sadly, studies show that when our children stop reading then the benefits that come from the printed word stop as well. Reading to our children,regardless of their age, is one of the best ways to prevent our offspring from losing out."
This is a personal essay. Ami doesn't cite sources for her various arguments, but they are all things that I've seen over the years, and believe to be true. And they come together well in this heartfelt plea for parents to read aloud to their kids, regardless of how young or how old they are. I agree 100%. Go read it!
I also would like to wish a particularly Happy New Year to the reader of my newsletter, a librarian and mom who took the time to email me on Christmas Day to tell me what she finds most useful about my blog. Somehow, to my great regret, in the course of my travels over Christmas (and fight against the deluge of spam), I deleted this email from my phone, and have not been able to respond. (Please write me again!)
But this woman's kind and useful words have stayed with me all week, and I continue to ponder the direction of my blog for 2015. This reader told me that what she finds most useful about my blog is the curated content, my gathering and categorizing of the links that I've shared on Twitter each week. And I've realized that this curating of resources shared by so many of you, like Ami's post above, is what I enjoy most about blogging these days. It doesn't feel like work, in the way that book reviews sometimes do of late. So I'll be thinking about ways to expand on that a bit (perhaps breaking out more of the "growing bookworms" links and blurbing those, for example), as we head into 2015. Feedback welcome!
My thanks to anyone who has read this far, and been with me on my blog's journey. I wish you all a safe, peaceful, and Happy New Year!