Readers Journal Guidelines

A readers journal helps students to pause and reflect, ask questions, and connect ideas based upon their reading. It is a tool to help you become a more engaged reader. It also acts as a focus for personal ideas you may want to remember for discussing in class, working on a project, or taking a test.  

Keeping a readers journal allows you to explore texts more deeply and to understand them more fully. 


  • Do not summarize the plot; rather, read and record your thoughts, reactions, and questions about situations, characters, actions, settings, symbols, plot, theme, etc. I have already read the book(s) and do not need a summary. What I do need is to see how you think about what you have read. 
  • Do not worry about grammar; rather, jot your ideas freely and honestly. You will be graded on the quality not mechanics. 
  • Do not revise for neatness. A journal should be something you keep as you read or immediately following a chapter/section (not something you go back and manufacture at some point when finished a text). Consequently, I do not expect journals to be typed and overly organized. Get a small notebook to use or keep loose-leaf paper in ordered from.
  • You may respond personally, rather than with academic language.

                    Here are some examples:

                    I do not understand; I noticed that¦I wonder about ...A question I have is¦

                   This story (character, phrase, etc.) makes me feel/think… I think the setting is important because¦

                   I really like/dislike this (idea, person, attitude, etc.) because¦ What was the author thinking when he/she¦ 

  • You may bullet details about characters and plot for your own reference and understanding 

The purpose of a journal is not to test your knowledge of the reading but to help you reflect personally and thoughtfully as you read. As such, there are no right answers or uniform expectations. Writing your ideas will help you to clarify your thoughts and will allow me to observe your reading strategies.


Summary of Expectations

In order to gain the most benefits from a readers journal, you should: 

  • attempt and complete the assignment in good faith as you read
  • respond honestly and energetically (even if responding negatively)
  • write an adequate amount (remember, this is a tool to demonstrate how well you read)
  • ask questions and observe your responses as they develop (you should understand your own ideas)
  • take some risks and be an active participant in your own learning process