Reading Journals

Reading Journals are paper or electronic documents or artifacts which help you read and reflect on your reading. Reading diaries tend to be a list of what you have read and when, number of pages etc. Reading Journals are something more: they are where you record your response to the text.

They help you look ahead to what you will read in a book next, as well as look backward at what you have just read. They are there to help you study the text, the story and the language, by providing structure and focus to your reading, and also to help prepare you for other tasks related to the text or the topics and issues of the text.

Journals can help you to understand the unfolding story, reflect on the character development, consider the message in the story and engage with the multiple themes of the story, and extend our thoughts beyond the book.

Journal Questions and Tasks

Reading Journals will be arranged around a set of questions and tasks agreed with the learners. These could focus on, for example, how the plot and characters develop, and the themes and language of the chapter.

All journals should be based on an agreed set of questions and tasks. Once these are agreed then the response format(s) can be agreed.

Designing the Journal

Journals can be designed in a number of ways; they do not have to be a written document.  A journal could be a blank page or a preformatted electronic or paper document, a notebook, a mind map, an infographic, a presentation or similar response, a podcast, a video interview or report, or a combination of these!

Each chapter could require a different response. Or each learner could be given the choice of how to respond.

Whose Journal is it?

The journal should be the learners’ journal, so everything should be agreed with the learners. They should also have the option to keep it private. And it shouldn’t be marked. It is a learning tool. Like a student notebook, and we don’t mark these, do we?

However, we are not just reading for pleasure; we are reading to study the language as well, and life, and history, and geography and science, and maths through the text. So, we need to use the journal to do task related to the text. You might want to discuss the hero’s journey, for example, and the learners should be able to use their journal notes to do this task. We should work on showing that the journal entries are useful and help learning. This is more important than giving them marks.

We might also need to identify a research topic for a research essay based on something from the text and the Reading Journal will be an ideal place to note down ideas for this project.