Our Reading Lives

Why You Should Run A 10 Day Reading Challenge

Lucas Maxwell


Lucas Maxwell has been working with youth in libraries for over fifteen years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he's been a high school librarian in London, UK for over a decade. In 2017 he won the UK's School Librarian of the Year award and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association's Reading For Pleasure Teacher Champion. He loves Dungeons & Dragons and is the author of Let's Roll: A Guide for Setting up Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Your School or Public Library. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

As a school librarian in a high school in London, UK, I’m always trying to promote reading for pleasure for both students and staff members. I try hard to bring new teachers and staff to the library in order to ensure they are aware of the benefits of reading for fun and to get as many books into their hands as possible. There is a lot of evidence to show that reading 20 minutes a day can bring a lot of benefits to your mental health and well-being, for example.

This is why I decided to start a 10-day reading challenge at my school, not for students (I am going to run something similar in the summer) but for staff. What I did was simply emailed staff asking if they wanted to take part. I offered up a prize draw (a tote bag, a book, and a bar of chocolate) for one lucky participant. I also outlined the benefits of reading just 20 minutes a day. I tried to do this without sounding condescending, the point was to explain the benefits while promoting all of the great books we have in the library. I’ll provide some of the feedback teachers gave me and how I ran it.

It was really simple to run, I asked staff to do the following:

  • Read for 20 minutes a day. It can be anything you want.
  • Repeat this for 10 days straight (if you can!).
  • Record your experience by making notes on how the reading challenge made you feel, how it changed your reading habits, if at all, anything. I was looking for any kind of feedback and was very impressed with what I got.

In the end, 40 staff members took part, which I took as a big success.

So, by looking at the feedback below, it’s clear why you should challenge yourself and others to something similar!

10 Day Reading Challenge Poster

Here is the feedback I have received. I loved reading over this:

“I’ve found that being able to read for 20 minutes each evening has provided a much-needed escape from the pressures of school and everyday life! It has been a source of calm and a time to recompose my mindset and enabled me to continue with the rest of my evening activities with a calmer approach!”

“I try to read every day but lately have found it difficult to do so due to being busy, tired, etc. However, since consciously trying to read every day for this project, I have easily found time to read more than 20 minutes normally in the evening and it has led me to feel more relaxed and sleep better with a more consistent routine. It has also encouraged me to seek out audiobooks again for my journeys as I had moved to podcasts for quite a while, but again listening to books, etc. has made the drive more enjoyable and relaxing.”

“Taking part in this challenge has definitely helped my brain calm down and as such, I haven’t felt as tired as I did compared to the Mock exam period.”

“I loved it! It made me sit in a quiet room without any interruptions or distractions (no TV, no phone) and just relax and read with a nice cuppa.”

“It helped to refocus my evenings and gave me the opportunity to set some time aside in a busy work and life schedule to just escape!”

“Carving out time is so difficult but when you find a routine and habit (20 minutes a day), it becomes easier and something I felt entitled to towards the end. This was every night before sleep and really helped me calm down instead of scrolling or worrying about the next day! Thank you so much!”

“It made me feel happier and more at ease, it reduced the stress and monotony of each day.”

“I found it difficult to find time in the day at the weekend, and when I did, was easily distracted by my mobile! However, the evenings were better. Fewer distractions, easier to focus, and a real chance to engage in a book. As the week progressed I found I was checking the time less as I became more engaged in my novel 🙂 I felt more relaxed and a real sense of positivity as I love reading but always seem to run out of time. Thanks for the challenge!.”

“It has helped me sleep and unwind. It made me feel like I am developing and progressing as a person in a non-work-related way!”

“Really helped me to fall asleep more easily and just a nice way to end the day. I was reading a book about the universe and the signs it has for us, which was a nice way to deal with everything going on!”

“I read before going to bed rather than watching TV and I found I slept a lot better. :)”

“I have been more relaxed as a result and have reignited my love of reading!”

“So glad this challenge has got me back into the swing of reading every night!”

“I have really enjoyed the last 10 days and have, in fact, read today as well! I have enjoyed reading in the morning while I have my morning coffee, getting back into reading regularly.”

So that’s it, I hope that this has inspired you to create your own 10-Day Reading Challenge!