What are Reading Journals

Reading Journals are a place for our children to

  • record what books they read and
  • respond to what they read

We start journals when each child is both an independent reader ad an independent writer, that is, they can write their thoughts down by themselves.

Initially each journal entry may only be a date and a sentence but as they grow in their reading, thinking and writing skills the entries will become more complex writing.

Record their reading

The first part of the journal is a Reading List - Books to Read and Books I've Read! We keep our Book Lists in our Journal.

When a child starts out with a journal they are really recording their oral narrations down on paper - this could be called a summary. Some children may still need to give you the oral first and then write in their journal.

A time line of the story is easy for children to piece together day by day.

If they enjoy a sentence or a quote I get them to copywrite it in their Journal. They need to reference this quote appropriately. This teaches them to collect other people's wisdom, and to have it handy so they can refer to in their own writing later on and to give due credit where credit is due.

Should they have a question they write out the question and and when they find answers they record the answers as well.

At this beginning stage I do occasionally read their journal mainly for accountability purposes. Since presentation isn't my goal I don't worry too much about spelling though it does have to be legible. The goal is to get my children used to reading and thinking, and writing or note-taking after reading a book.

Respond to their Reading

As the children get older and their thinking skills develop I encourage them to
  • ask questions and to go and find the answers
  • to discern character traits in the characters they are reading about and record these
  • record their thoughts and feelings to a particular issue
  • to make a personal commitment to change – when we read a book it should change us.
The older children are still recording what they read but their writing is more reflective rather than a summary.

Because of the personal nature of these responses to reading, I read the children’s reading journal less and less – it is their personal thoughts. I do ensure plenty of discussion and often they will share what they have written, if not directly they at least use it as a kick start for our discussions.


Live life with your kids!



Return to top of page

Return to Learning Tools for more thoughts on Reading Journals