Looking Back at 2009: How ‘Bout Those Goals?

Yep, it’s December. It’s time to grab a cup, look back at where we’ve been and think about where we want to go. Today, is the reflective post. Tomorrow (or maybe next week), I’ll launch the post for 2010.

When I separate myself from the “trees” and look at the “forest,” I realize that we have had a fantastic year. There are times when it seems overwhelming and I feel like we are spinning our  wheels, but progress doesn’t come by standing still. So let’s see …

shareastorylogo-color1I’ll start with a goal I didn’t know I had … Share a Story – Shape a Future, a literacy blog tour.  When I talked with Jen Robinson, Sarah Mulhern, and Jill Tullo in December 2008, we didn’t get much further than “that’s a nice idea.” I would never have imagined that we could pull off a week-long event in just a few weeks, make it a global event (thanks Susan) with A-list librarians, bloggers, and teachers; and create a brand with a world-class logo by Elizabeth Dulemba, too. SaS 2009 made my year!

When I was setting goals for 2009, I was mindful of just how much the economy would affect our growth.  Donations pretty  much kept pace with what we wanted to do. Here is our progress, goal by goal.

Launch Read it Together. – Not much. This is a project to distribute books for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers via pediatricians and family services organizations. We are working with Reach Out and Read – Virginia, but we haven’t gotten very far.

Turn 12 struggling readers into inspired readers. I was hopeful that in the course of a year we would have comments from dormant readers to the effect that “this book made a difference for me.” The closest we came were in the reviews by the students at North Junior High School.

Eliminate the term “Reluctant Reader.” I am a huge fan of Donalyn Miller’s (Book Whisperer and her idea that everyone is a reader. Whenever I can, I try to use Donalyn’s terms: developing, dormant, and underground reader.

Participate in Kidlitosphere 2009. My goal for my first KidLitCon was just to attend. I had never envisioned sitting on a panel! It was an unbelievable opportunity  … if I have to forego IRA, BEA, and ALA next year, I’m going to KidLitCon 2010.

Build on what I learned about reviewing and blogging in 2008. My plan was to thin the number of cumulative posts and do more individual reviews.  The Diversity Rocks book challenge helped with that, and I also did some unrelated reviews. They were ad hoc, and I hope to create a more consistent schedule next year.  Greg’s presentation at KidLitCon gave me lots to think about, as do his posts at The Happy Accident.  I will continue to reflect on his ideas and keep plugging away at improving my craft.

There were two late-arriving goals, too.

Diversity Rocks Book Challenge – When I signed on for the Diversity Rocks Challenge I had planned to read a minimum of nine books, secretly hoping I’d make it to twelve. I read and reviewed ten books. I have one more sitting in my office, but it’s going to have to wait. Books covered lots of different eras in the United States, Asia, and Africa. They included biographies, folktales, and historical fiction, too.

Picture Books Challenge – I completely dropped the ball on my summer goal of reading the top 30 books in Fuse #8’s Top 101 Picture Books poll. There were 14 titles I had not yet read. over the summer I read five … I just forgot to post a wrap-up. Max has carried that angst out into the wild, and I”m not about to retrieve it.

My last goal  was rather obtuse: be inspired.

I love thoughtful prose and incredible art. I hope to discover, hear, and read things that open my heart and mind, show me new ways of looking or thinking about things, and leave me wanting more.

Nailed that one! To say I spent much of the year in drop-my-jaw awe of the talent around the Kidlitosphere and the great things folks are doing to raise readers would be an understatement.   It keeps me going and reminds me every day that we each have a role and that what we do is never too small to make a difference.

My only disappointment is that we weren’t able to ship out as many books for the nonprofits who give them to kids. We shipped out 342 books ($4,362.90), a decrease over the previous two years. The good news is that we placed almost as many books as we received in donations.

I choose to look at 2009 as an amazing year. Not “despite the economy” or for any other rationalization I can think of. Yes, there were puddles and speed bumps, but that’s life. I am thrilled with the opportunities – some planned for, some spontaneous – that continue to move us forward to the ultimate goal: giving every child the chance to reach their full potential.

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