Reading Journals

Students in literature classes are frequently asked to keep journals in which they respond in writing to reading assignments. The journal can help students understand textbook material. Often, students make connections between what they read and their own lives, connections they sometimes do not make in more formal writing assignments. The journal also allows students to make connections between various selections they have read. They frequently pay attention to writers' styles because the journal encourages students to read more carefully.

Teachers do not evaluate the journal for mechanics and usage. The entries, in essence, are rough drafts. However, teachers do respond to the content of the writing, pushing students to go beyond obvious or superficial comments and plot summary. Journals may be used as a basis for further student writing about topics found in the journals, topics which often deal with point of view, character analysis, or comparison and contrast. Students can also be asked to share entries with the class, and this frequently results in lively discussions because students have already done a great deal of thinking about the topic.

The following is a list of beginning sentences that are useful in helping students start a reading journal:
  1. I like/dislike this idea because...
  2. This character reminds me of someone I know because...
  3. This character reminds me of myself because...
  4. This character is like [name of character] in [title of work] because...
  5. I think this setting is important because...
  6. This scene reminds me of a similar scene in...
  7. I like/dislike this writing because...
  8. This section is particularly effective because...
  9. The ideas here remind me of the ideas in [title of work] because...
  10. This incident reminds me of a similar situation in my own life. It happened when...

Excerpted from Writing Process Activities Kit.


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