Reading Challenge – What Is It And How It Works

Reading Challenge

We all know that reading has many benefits. What we also know is that sometimes getting yourself motivated to read is a challenge in itself. With today’s life rhythm, it’s harder and harder to find the time and dedication to read a book from start to finish. Here’s where a reading challenge comes in.

Being part of a group with a common goal usually allows you to step out of your comfort zone. Sharing a common goal with other people and knowing that you are not alone in your efforts makes any goal easier to achieve.

But let’s get into a bit more detail about these movements and find out all there is to know about reading challenges.

What is a reading challenge?

By its official definition, a reading challenge is a form of educational competition where participants are given a list of books that need to be read in a specific timeframe. 

It was first introduced as an incentive for children to read more and it has gained more and more popularity in recent years. Nowadays, there are several reading challenges going on throughout the year and both children and adults take part.

The purpose has always been the same: to offer communities a chance to share a common goal, motivating them to read more and to create a reading culture among people. 

With the origin back in 1895 when librarian Linda Eastman came up with the idea in order to motivate students to read more during the summer, reading challenges nowadays have several other applications, from providing valuable statistics about reading to encouraging book circulation within communities.

They are now designed to target specific demographics, certain book genres or authors and even favor poetry over classic literature or vice versa. Let’s see a couple of popular reading challenge categories:

  1. Tutti-frutti reading challenge – as you can tell by its name, this category includes reading challenges designed to approach reading in a more liberal way, including books on different topics and genres. They are great for beginners because it gives them a chance to find out what their likes and dislikes are when it comes to reading.
  2. Specific topic challenge – this type of challenge incentivizes participants to take a dive in a specific topic. They say that reading three to five books on a specific topic makes you more informed on that topic than 90% of people. Sounds pretty good, right? Find a topic you’re interested in and join a reading challenge on that topic. You will thank yourself later.
  3. Book Club reading challenge – we all heard about book clubs and we know their value for their members. Luckily, being part of a book club can now happen online and you can also take part in reading challenges organized by certain book clubs. Whether you prefer to enjoy your membership online in a forum or with live meetings, book clubs are great for your reading habits.
  4. Author or genre focused challenge – if you’re a fan of a specific author or you prefer only a certain type of book, this might be the right choice for you. Dive deeper in your preferences by joining reading challenges focused on your favorite author for example and you will surely end up reading some amazing things.
  5. Seasonal reading challenge – probably the most popular type, the one we are all familiar with from school. There are nowadays several reading challenges you can take part in during the summer for example, regardless of your age. Since summer is considered a great time of year for relaxing and slowing down, reading during the summer is a much easier goal to achieve.

As you can see, reading challenges come in many forms, and you will definitely find one to suit your particular preferences regardless of what those are.

You can probably imagine that every book reading challenge comes with certain benefits for each participant. Let’s dive into that for a bit and discover the benefits of taking part in a reading challenge.

Are reading challenges good?

You already know that reading has a huge number of benefits. From relieving stress, to delaying age related cognitive decline, to even making you an overall better and smarter person, reading is an amazing activity.

So, yes. Like anything that can get you to spend more time leafing through books, reading challenges are incredibly good for you. Here are some of the most important benefits of a reading challenge for adults.

You will read more

Like I said, one of the most common reasons for not reading is the lack of motivation, even though everyone will claim that it’s the lack of time. Proper motivation will allow even the busiest people to find time to read. 

Let’s face it, if someone as busy as Bill Gates can find time to read 50 books per year, most of us could do it too.

What we’re missing is discipline and motivation. Luckily, reading challenges can work wonders for most of us.

How many times have you heard the expression “being part of something bigger than myself”? That’s exactly the feeling reading challenges provide their participants: a shared experience, a common goal and proper motivation.

Knowing that you joined the same challenge as hundreds or even thousands of other people will trigger your competitive spirit and that will push you outside of your comfort zone.

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You will read books you wouldn’t normally read

Did you ever feel stuck reading the same type of book over and over again? Me too. It’s easy to choose your next book based on the one you’ve just finished.

It’s the same feeling of comfort that pushes you to watch comedy after comedy on Netflix. You already know the type, you can already predict the format and how the action will take place and how it will be described. 

It’s why people with anxiety find it easier to re-watch the same show over and over again rather than starting a new one.

Comfort is nice and all, but nobody made any real progress in any field by just sitting in their comfort zone. 

If you need a push to get yourself to move past your book-type and discover new things, reading challenges are definitely the way to go. By joining a mixed reading challenge, you will receive a reading list containing a variety of authors and genres. 

That’s exactly what you need in order to evolve and start exploring new things.

You no longer need to wonder what to read next

For many, finishing a book comes with the joy of having made an accomplishment, but also with the more unpleasant thought “what should I read next?”

Unless you already have a couple of books queued up for reading, that’s a tough question to answer considering that more than 120 million books have been written throughout history and more than 30 thousand new titles reach the library shelves each year.

Luckily, doing a book challenge is a great solution to all the wondering. The next title on your reading list is what you read next. There, that’s it! 

You should also take into account the fact that beside the seasonal reading challenges, there are also yearly ones. That means you can have a reading list to last you a whole year! 

Sounds a lot better than constantly having to think about your next book, right? But let’s see how a reading challenge works and how you can organize or participate in one.

How do you do a reading challenge?

Well, it depends on which side of the challenge you are on. Taking part in a reading challenge and organizing a reading challenge are two different things and you need a different mindset when approaching each one.

How do you participate in a reading challenge?

While the process of participating in a reading challenge is pretty straight-forward, it’s important to keep in mind that there are still some steps you need to follow.

Find the reading challenge that appeals most to you. Whether it’s a seasonal challenge, a yearly one or one that focuses on a certain topic you are interested in, it’s important to make sure from the start that you will enjoy it. You can find many such events online.

Don’t force yourself to take part in any challenge you hear about, because we are all different people, with different preferences and reading goals. If this is your first reading challenge, I would advise you to start slow and choose an easy one taking place in a rather short timeframe.

Register to the reading challenge of your choice. Once you identify the event you want to be a part of, you will need to register to it in some way. If it’s an online event, you will probably just need to use your email address to register. For challenges issued in other ways, you will need to go physically to the bookstore/library organizing the event to register.

Get your reading list and start reading. As soon as you’ve registered, you can start actively participating in the event. Set yourself a schedule, include reading hours in your daily routine and set reminders to never skip on your reading.

You can use an app like Basmo to create your list of books for the duration of the challenge.

Track your progress. While some online challenges impose certain apps for tracking your progress throughout the event, others allow you to use any method you see fit.

If that’s the case, we strongly recommend Basmo to be your app of choice for your reading. It offers many useful features for all types of readers. Whether you’re an avid reader, a casual one or a total beginner, Basmo’s functionalities, which allow you to track your progress and maintain your schedule and reading rhythm will be of tremendous help. It’s also important to know that it is very easy to use and available on most devices.

In Basmo, for instance, you can organize your books in collections and name them any name you see fit. You can do this in three easy steps:

  1. Go to the My Books tab on your Basmo home screen.
  2. Scroll down to Book Collections and tap View all collections.
  3. Tap + Create book collection to add a new collection.
  4. You can name it anything you want and start adding books to it.

Complete the challenge and check if you won any prizes. Many challenges end with raffles for the participants who successfully complete the reading list. Prizes are usually, as you would expect, books. 

How to organize a reading challenge?

Whether you decided to host a reading challenge on your blog or you want to launch one on any of the social media platforms we all already know, your event’s success depends on a couple of things.

  • Choose the reading list carefully. Make sure to read the books you include, or at least make sure their reviews are good. Include your all time favorites and the books you think are important enough to be read by as many people as possible.
  • Join the event yourself. You need to be one of the most avid readers in your group, because you need to set an example for everyone to follow. This way you also experience the challenge exactly like your other participants and it is important to understand it so you can improve on the future ones.
  • Set reasonable goals. Another rule of thumb is to be realistic. Many people may live much more stressful and busy lives than yourself. It’s important to make the challenge approachable and relatively easy to complete. Otherwise many of your participants will give up and will get frustrated.
  • Be proactive and encourage people who are doing well. People who are making good progress in your challenge should be congratulated and brought forward as an example for the rest. Make sure to be vocal in your group and keep in touch with people as much as possible.
  • Choose a prize for the raffle winners. It’s always a good idea to motivate people with a possible prize at the end of the challenge. Select a couple of books that were not included in the event’s reading list and offer them as a prize for the luckiest person who completes the challenge. Organize a raffle with all the names of the ones who completed the challenge and select a winner with a random name picker.

Follow these easy steps and you have a great chance of hosting a successful event. Good luck!

How to track your reading challenges?

Well, there’s a couple of ways you can go about in order to track your progress in reading challenges or even across multiple challenges at a time. It is up to you to decide what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it based on your particular needs and preferences.

  • The old fashioned way. When it comes to keeping track of a single challenge, you can go the old fashioned way and simply put pen to paper and track your progress by simply writing down the books you’ve read or to simply strikethrough the ones you finish reading from the list. The biggest disadvantage to this method is that it’s slow and you can easily lose your notes.
  • Notepad or Word document. Another good way would be to use your computer and laptop and basically write down everything you’ve read in a Notepad or Word document. A pretty quick method, but portability could be an issue. You wouldn’t want to finish a book while travelling for example and find yourself without your laptop or PC to make a note. 
  • Google Docs / Sheets. Alternatively, you can use Google Docs or Google Sheets in order to keep these notes about your reading and that would solve the portability issue, but it’s still not ideal.
  • Reading tracking apps. The best way is to use a reading app on your mobile device. Nowadays everyone has one and we rarely leave the house without one. Using an app like Basmo for example is the most convenient, safe and quick solution for keeping track of your progress in a reading challenge.

    Not only does it allow you to save the books you need to read beforehand, but it also lets you mark down milestones within a book. On top of this, you can mark a book as fully read with a couple of taps and you can also make notes about how you felt reading a certain book.

    Using an app like Basmo to track your reading habits has many benefits on its own, but in a reading challenge things get even more interesting. The app allows you to easily set a daily target of pages read  for example, meaning that you can simply calculate how much you need to read per day in order to complete the challenge in the specified timeframe.

Ready to take your reading game to the next level?
Try Basmo book tracker today!

It’s 100% free to download, so what have you got to lose?

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What are some great reading challenges ideas?

Over the years, many creative people have come up with some pretty awesome reading challenges. 

Whether you want to create a reading challenge for yourself only, for your group of friends, on your blog or in a group on a social media platform, here are a couple of great ideas to incentivize you and the other participants to happily read more. 

  • Countries challenge – pick a group of 5-10 countries and select one book with the action taking place in each of them. 10 countries chosen = 10 interesting books read.
  • First name challenge – select a couple of books written by authors you share your first name with.
  • Year of birth challenge – read a book written in each year from your year of birth until present time. The older you are, the more you’ll read.
  • Award winners challenge – Choose a literary award of your liking and read all the books that have ever won it.
  • Alphabet challenge – Read a book with the title starting with each letter of the alphabet. Trust us, some letters are challenging, but you can end up having a ton of fun.
  • Travelers challenge – Read a book with the action taking place in every place you’ve visited or wanted to visit.
  • First and last challenge – Pick 5 authors who are no longer alive and read their first and last books they wrote
  • Century challenge – Read a book written in each century, going as much back in history as you can
  • Mix and match challenge – Get your friends together, or create an online poll where everyone you know writes down their favorite book. As you expected, each of the participants needs to read all the recommendations from the rest.
  • Celebrity challenge – Read 5 books recommended by 5 of your favourite famous people.

Use your imagination, I bet you can come up with at least another ten amazing summer reading challenge ideas.

What are the most popular reading challenges?

Over the years, there were reading challenges which attracted a lot more interest than others. 

Whether it’s because they were more actively promoted in the media, they were more interesting than others or have been blessed with involvement from the government, what we know for sure is that the effects were great.

Let’s have a look at some of the most popular reading challenges

Like I said earlier, the most popular challenges don’t necessarily need to be your favourites as well. Do your own research and find a challenge that is good for you.


The bottom line when it comes to reading challenges is that there are enough for you to choose from and there are numerous reasons why you should enter or even create one of your own.

Reading more is a goal for many of us and a reading challenge could turn out to provide us with the extra motivation we’ve been lacking in the past.
Choose your favorite, enter it and complete it. And don’t forget that you can make your life a lot easier by using the Basmo reading app.

Give Your Reading Experience
An Extra Boost With Basmo

Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time. 

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