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Encouraging authentic reading with goal setting, not reading logs

Does this sound like you?

Every night after dinner you curl up with a good book and your beloved reading timer. You set the timer for 20 minutes and get reading. Then, ding! The timer goes off, you put your bookmark in, and grab your weekly reading log. You write in the book title, date, how long you read, and then you track down someone in the house to sign it for you.

Wait. You don’t do that?!

Why in the world is this how we ask students to read at home if our goal is to help them become lifelong readers? If we want them to become adults who love to read, why do we insist on making it seem so darn boring?

Homework like reading 20 minutes per night and filling out a required reading log is not the answer. Instead, let’s make at-home reading more authentic with goal setting and more engaging with visual goal tracking sheets.

One simple way to get students started with goal setting is to have them set a goal for how many nights they plan to read during the week. They can set the goal on Monday, mark their progress each day at school, and then end their goal on Friday.


  • NUMBER OF NIGHTS: In my class, students set a goal for how many school nights (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) they will read that week. This allows us to all reflect on our goal on Friday and start fresh again on Monday.
  • NUMBER OF MINUTES: If you already have nightly reading homework, you could have students set a goal for how many minutes they read each night or how many minutes they want to read over the course of the week.
  • NUMBER OF CHAPTERS/PAGES: Students could set a goal for how many chapters or pages they want to read by the end of the week.
  • GENRE/FORMAT: Students could identify a genre or book format, like chapter books or novels in verse, they have not read much and want to read more of.
  • READING STRATEGY: Students could set a goal to practice a newly learned reading strategy each night.


It’s best to have some sort of visual reminder for students to refer to after they’ve set their goal on Monday. Display the goal either on students’ desks or in their planners.

Then have an engaging goal tracking sheet where students can track their progress toward their goal each day at school. Make it a normal part of their morning routine and celebrate students as you see them progressing toward their goals.

My students love these seasonal ones and look forward to moving their little character each day.

So toss out those old reading logs and let’s create the next generation of kids who love reading with reading goals.

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