Peeking Inside Reader Response Journals

We’re in the midst of an independent reading unit and this weekend, I finally got around to reading through the student reading journals. I’ve been pushing hard for them not to summarize what they have read, but to take a step deeper into reflection and make predictions, judgments, connections and more as they are reading.

While a few still can’t seem to make that next step (a predictable few, unfortunately), most of my students have used the models from earlier in the year for their reading responses. They are asking questions of the writer, wondering about the motivations of characters, analyzing setting, and connecting the stories and characters with their own lives. For me, this demonstrates good evidence of active reading.

Here are some sentences that I pulled out of the journals:

  • A connection I am starting to make is that all things we do affect everything. (SkyClan’s Destiny).
  • She (the librarian) found him (cat) huddled up in a tiny ball, in the library book return box. When I read that, my heart sank. (Dewey the Library Cat)
  • I think the concept here in this novel are like problems in the real world, so it helps me to understand the book better. (City of Ember)
  • From what I’ve heard, Tom, the main character, may be a bit of a devious person. (Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
  • A lot of people could relate to this scene, where you get mad at someone and you say stuff you later regret. (No Small Thing)
  • I want to save this quote because it reminds me of how my dog sleeps because when he sleeps, he looks dead with his tongue hanging out. (Eggs)
  • … his name, Smoke, leads me to say that he is not a very good influence. Just by the name, the author expresses to us how he is bad. (Scat)
  • He is adventurous, like me. He is courageous, like me. He is fast, unfortunately — not like me. (Fablehaven)
  • I found an error (in the book). It says Ron’s bike is a YZ80. It says it would not start because of a dead battery but it’s a kickstart. Kickstarts never need a battery. (Dirt Bike Racer)
  • I am really getting a good picture of it in my head. (Swindle)
  • This book is giving me good ideas for my own writing (Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever)

Peace (in the reflecting),

  1. Reading through my kids’ response journals is one of my favorite things to do. Their responses show such deepening and development through the year – you can chart how they mature as kids and begin to see complexity in the world.

  2. I was glad to read this, Kevin. I am forever trying to get students to go beyond summary to include response. Those are the interesting reading journal entries to read. They help us connect with our students, and it’s a way for them to share their genius! Thanks for sharing your students’ genius with the world. Denise

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