Thursday, January 3, 2008

Refocusing for 2008

So, here’s the dealio…I started this blog a couple of months ago and have been quite obsessed with it since (in a good way). At first I did random reviews of books that I particularly liked then realized I needed some structure and started reviewing one book each week with a different focus each day. That has seemed to work for me up until NOW, and over the past couple of weeks, I have to admit that by Thursday, I’ve become quite bored with my blog and have been struggling with things to say about a 42 page picture book. And if I’M bored, I can only imagine what you poor poor readers are feeling (if I even have any left by the end of the week besides my mom who has become my number one fan and supporter…Hi Mom! ).

I still need a structure for this blog…must have structure. I’ve also made a commitment to myself to post at least every weekday, but to do that, I have to be having fun, right? Here are my conclusions after days and days and days and days of serious brain churning (you should see the smoke coming out of my ears):

1. I get the most joy out of Mondays and Tuesdays, when I review the book and then give reading tips and ideas for learning activities. That’s really the foundation of my blog—helping kids read and make real-world connections through books and giving anyone who cares about reading with the kids in their lives tips for making this happen—so that part has got to stay.

2.By covering just one book a week, I’m only giving 52 books suggestions in a year…that’s not cool. Plus, I have a pile of books in my living room desperately waiting to be read and reviewed. So, I have to do more than one book a week…I just HAVE to.

3. I want to give recommendations for a variety of books because kids have so many different tastes and you never know what book will make that first but oh so crucial impact. It’s important for me not to pigeonhole myself into only reviewing one certain type of book for one certain age group. It’s also important for me not to get overwhelmed with too many books to review, so I have to somehow narrow my focus. (I work full time and have a family, so while I could easily spend 24/7 reading and blogging, I just can’t. My baby’s gotta eat!)

For anyone who is still with me here, you have just caught a small glimpse of what goes on in my head everyday (pretty scary, huh?)

Here’s how I’ve decided to refocus and restructure my blog: (fanfare and drum roll)

1.I will now review at least three, yes you heard right, THREE books a week.

Here’s the breakdown: On Monday, I will feature a fiction book, and on Tuesday, I will give reading tips and ideas for learning activities for that book. On Wednesday, I will feature a non-fiction book and give reading tips and ideas for learning activities for that book on Thursday. Finally, on Friday, I will review a book of my choice. I could be a board book I'm reading to my daughter, a young adult novel, a nonfiction book, or anything else I feel like reviewing.

That will bring my total from 52 books a year to 156, but I really like numbers with zeros in them, so I will challenge myself to read and review 200 books.

2.At least two books I feature a month will be middle grade or young adult books, either fiction or nonfiction. I initially wanted to do at least one a week, but I also want to set realistic goals that won’t overwhelm me. (Remember, my baby’s gotta eat!).

3. I will limit the types of book I review to the following categories: multicultural, educational, environmental, or social awareness. I will NOT feature books that are preachy though…they have to subtly convey the message through strong characters and a strong storyline.
Disclaimer: If I find a book that doesn’t fit into these categories but that I absolutely love, I will review it. You’ll probably find these books in the “What Isabella’s Reading” feature.

4.I will read and review at least 10 educational books for adults this year that focus on helping teachers and caregivers promote literacy.

Ta-dah…I am refocused and oh so relieved. With this new structure, I’ll be able to review more books and hopefully reach more people. Plus, there’s NO WAY I can get bored. If I do, I can always change it again, because it’s my blog…so there!

What do you think? (Dish it out…I write for a living and live for feedback. Plus, I’m made of tough stuff. I CAN handle the truth! )


  1. My only feedback, after going through a blog refocusing effort a few months back, is that you should maximize the time that you spend on the things that interest you the most. If you do that, you'll keep blogging, and your writing will be more alive.

    I'm also striving for three reviews a week for 2008, with a stretch goal of 200. Great minds think alike, I guess. Good luck!

  2. Jen,
    Thanks for your excellent feedback...I will definitely keep that in mind and try to only spend time on the things that most interest me.

    I just read your post about your goals, and you want to read 200, not including picture books. I'm including picture books in my 200 goal, so your goal is tougher than mine. Good luck to you!

  3. Jill-
    Sounds like a great plan. I agree with Jen... definitely focus on the things that you enjoy writing about. And don't be afraid to break your guidelines, if like you said, there's a book you love. And speaking as a working mom too... I'm realizing that it's important not to beat myself up if my blog gets a little neglected in favor of my family. Sounds like you've got a good structure to follow. Good luck!

    -Susan (who just went through a blog refocusing all of two days ago.)

  4. Well, as for the goal of reading 200 non-picture books being tough, Jill, it's a pretty good battle to be undertaking. Good luck with your goals! Susan, too. I hope that your blog re-focusing works out the way you want it.

  5. Susan...thanks for the excellent feedback and advice. I sometimes struggle with balancing work, family, and blogging, so it's important to remember what's most important--FAMILY.