Take the Polar Plunge! (into reading and writing)

ice-caps-267298   Happy 2014! It’s that time of year.

Who’s up for a Polar Plunge? You know, the thing where crazy — I mean awesome people decide to jump into the  frigid ocean or lake on in the month of January to… to… well, invigorate themselves and start the new year off right!  Come on, who’s with me?

(Uh, I don’t know about you, but  that looks a little icy and… cold. REALLY cold)

Don’t  worry. I’m not talking about THAT kind of Polar Plunge. The one I’m referring to is more metaphorical. You can do it at home… in your comfy, cozy pajamas if you wish.  I say, let’s take the Polar Plunge into reading and writing!!

What does that mean? Well, people who actually do the Polar Plunge say they it gets their juices flowing, you know so they warm up.  That’s what we want to happen with THIS type of Polar Plunge. We want to get our CREATIVE juices flowing so our brains will warm up and be focused!!

So where do we start?

First of all, since this is January, think about any goals you might have for yourself. They don’t have to be big ones, but anything that pertains to reading and writing.


Do you want to read more books this year? Be specific. How many? What kind? Maybe you want to try different genres or expand into different authors or series.  If you feel the need to keep motivated to meet your goal, join a group that supports readers.  Here are a couple:

GoodReads.com  They have a 2014 Reading Challenge. Simply enter the of  number  books you plan to read this year. You can track what you read, take a look at what others are reading and see recommendations on new and exciting books.

Scholastic.com   Has a reading resolution that you can fill out. Get your kids to do it, too!

TBR Reading Pile Challenge   This blog has a “To Be Read” challenge that helps you keep track of what you’re reading, motivates you to post reviews and communicate with others. It even offers some giveaways!

Reading Olympics  Many schools, library systems and towns are having this contest. It is a way to get kids (and adults) excited about reading.  Simply do a web search on “Reading Olympics” and see if something comes up in your area. If not, start your own! (Good Reads has recommendations for Reading Olympic books here.)

There are TONS of blogs that cover the idea of “Reading Goals for 2014”. Simply do a search and see what you can find. If the blog looks interesting, follow it.  Or maybe start your own blog about cool books.  (We did!)



Have you always wanted to write a book? Well, 2014 is your year to do it!  If you’re nervous about it or don’t have any idea where to start, don’t worry. There are a phenomenal number  of ways to find information — and more importantly — support. The children’s writer community is a very welcome and open group and we all LOVE to help each other.  There are soooo many great websites and blogs out there about writing for kids — too many to mention in just one post. So I’ll focus on some motivational challenges that are going on right now to get you started:

KIDLIT411     A brand new blog that has  SO MUCH information on it, it’s hard to put it into words.

Start the Year Off Write!   This is great for the new writer who has no idea how to get started. The blog gives 21 fast and easy writing prompts to get you started. Perfect for a new writer who needs direction (and inspiration). The challenge started on Jan 5th, but you can still sign up and, if you go back and do all the exercises and post, then you could be eligible for some awesome giveaways.

Revi Mo  The sign-up for this Revision Month blog is closed, but anyone can access the awesome posts. Check them out for great revision ideas.

12 x 12 in 2014  If you’re ready to dive into writing, check out this fantastic challenge. You are challenged to write 12 Picture Books in 12 months. Wow! Plus, when join, you get access to tons of writing advice, connect with other writers, all of which will inspire you to keep going. Registration is open until the end of February. Even if you don’t register, there’s some wonderful information on Julie Hedlund’s blog.

Mini-WOW Non-fiction Pic   Is nonfiction your thing? Check out Kristen Fulton’s nonfiction picture book challenge in February 2014.

Chapter Book Challenge    Want to write chapter books? Sign up for this challenge in March of 2014.

Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo blog   And don’t forget this awesome event! Tara runs a Picture Book Idea Month challenge in November of every year. While it’s not going on now, this is a fantastic blog with tons of information!


These are just a few of the MANY places you can find writing inspiration. I know there are TONS more out there.

But hopefully, this list will give you the motivation to dip your toe in… Or maybe to just take a deep breath and jump! Come on in, the water’s fine. 🙂



What are your goals for reading and writing in 2014? Post them below. Also, if you know of any more reading or writing blogs that offer terrific advice and provide great camaraderie, feel free to add them, too.


Jennifer Swanson is the author of more than 16 books for children. When not writing, you can find her with a book in her hand. Her goal is to read 30 or more books in 2014!






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Jennifer Swanson
Science ROCKS! And so do Jennifer Swanson's books. She is the award-winning author of over 40 nonfiction books for kids. Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, you can find Jennifer at her favorite place to explore the world around her. www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com
Jennifer is also the creator and administrator of #STEMTuesday and #STEAMTeam2020
  1. Jen, thanks for a terrific lists of sites to check out (and I’m adding my thanks to you for including KidLit411 as Elaine and Sylvia are my critique group buddies and I am super proud of all that they did on that site)!

    I want to add one more writer’s challenge that I love: Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee. It’s an excellent challenge to pair with Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo — you let your ideas percolate in your brain for a few months, then in May, you pick 7 of the best and write one per day during WriWee, and get to win lots of prizes from the super lovely Paula Yoo!

  2. @Brenda Good luck with it! It’s a ton of information to take in, but all so exciting!

  3. @Sylvia and @Elaine — no problem. I signed up for the 411 blog and the first email was FILLED with info. I’m so impressed!!

  4. Loved the post, lots of information to check out. Thanks!

  5. Thanks so much for the kidlit411 mention. As my partner (above) mentioned, we are very grateful that people are finding our resource helpful! We are adding sections weekly- so drop by when you can!

  6. Thank you so much for mentioning Kidlit411. I’m helping run the site and it’s been really fun getting it up and going. We plan to have sections on MG and YA, but are still in the middle of collecting links and information. We will definitely link to this site.