Why is it that we often get into a habit where reading becomes less of a necessity of continued education and more of a hobby for general interested that can be put off until it’s time to relax and unwind? This happens so much more often than it should. We set aside our reading until we finish our chores and duties for the day before we ever consider sitting down and reading a book. We set up reading goals for the year and just like New Years Resolutions, watch them sail on by without a worry or a second glance.

Remember when we used to read to win prizes? In our local area we could read books and send in little cards to our local news channel and every week they’d draw a name for someone to win a free bike. That year, I read the entire Harry Potter series and many other books I can’t remember. I think my total came out to something like 50 books in the school year. I won my bike and a free trip to carowinds for my mom, sister and myself.

A few years later in middle school, I joined the local book club and we made goals for reading again. We had a list of books to read throughout the year and I was able to mark off every single one. We competed in a reading competition at the end of the year (we didn’t win, but we came close). It was fun and I remember those years changed my life. Not because of what I learned in school, but because of what I read in books.

Now we have websites like goodreads.com where we set our reading goals, but unlike those years of earning free bikes and awards, we slip and we get distracted. When life gets busy our reading is the first to go. According to stats, over 3 million people pledged to read 59 books in a year and only 21% actually finished! The only difference? Those who completed the goals had a reading plan. They treated reading like an act of continued learning and set themselves up for success first. They made it a priority in their life instead of a passing hobby-another chore that needs to be completed.

I’ll admit that I do this myself. Back when I was in the reading clubs I could read the longest Harry Potter book in a day, but now it takes me months to finish a short book. Early in the Spring of 2019 I became sick and lost a lot of my energy and focus. Reading and writing were two of the first things to go. This was mostly because I couldn’t focus on sentences long enough to figure out what they meant.

But even when I was put on treatment and began feeling better, I still didn’t get back to reading, though I did finish my first book during this period. Even before falling sick though, my reading skills were seriously lacking. It takes me 30 minutes to get through 10 pages that used to feel like seconds and it wasn’t because I hated the books. I just couldn’t focus on them. I’d let reading slip from my life so much, it was almost as if I was having to learn the process of reading again just like in school.

This year I’m hoping to correct that mistake and get back into my old reading habits and even writing habits by picking up books and making my goals more meaningful to the community I’m apart of. I already have a list of books from my bookshelf that I’ve picked up over the past year with the intentions of reading and failing. I have books from this Christmas and last Christmas to get through. Throughout the year I’ll add as necessary. I’ve made a goal to complete reading 20 books and write at least 12 first drafts, not including the editing process.

But I’m taking my challenge even further. I’m making my reading mean more than just learning. Literacy is a strong problem in modern communities and often Children and adults alike can’t afford the books they need to complete school or even want. So for every book I read, I’m finding ways to donate to local literacy programs as a reward. My own version of the free bikes and pizza, but instead I’m choosing to give to others.

Ministry is an important area in my life. In 2019 I set up programs that served one donation drive each month by creating little bags of goodies  for animal owners, students and more to prove that even on a low budget you can still do good things and this year is no different. This year I’m choosing to use my reading habits to become a ministry for others. Through google I’ve managed to find at least 25 literacy drives to donate to and will continue searching for more as I complete goals throughout the year.

You can do the same. Whether it’s spending time reading to kids, reading to the sick or even just donating books. You can make your reading goals matter, make them important necessities in your life and the lives of others just by looking around and setting goals.

Every month I’ll add an update on my goals here and share what kind of charities I’ve supported. You’re more than welcome to join in or find places in your own local community to impact the world through books and reading. Maybe you even have more ideas of charities and projects. Feel free to share those as well! I’ll even make a page for the website where all of this information can be collected.

Below I’ve included some additional reading links for  you to check out. Maybe this year you’ll find a little bit more from your reading goals and endless TBR list that will help inspire yourself to keep reading and other to start reading.

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