Projects that support “Because Writing Matters"
Helping Your Children to Learn to Use a Reading Journal or Notebook
Contributed by Phyllis Dinwiddie, Teacher Consultant, Inland Writing Project, UC Riverside
One of the best ways to help children learn and practice the important skill of writing about their reading is to give them questions to answer. Some children can read the questions and go directly to writing their answers to them in a journal or notebook. Some children prefer to talk about their answers first and then write them down. This works especially well for books or stories you are reading with them.
Questions to help your children write personal reactions while they are reading
- As you were reading, what thoughts were going through your mind?
- Were you reminded of something in your own life as you were reading? If yes, what was it?
- What were you wondering about as you were reading?
- What questions came to mind as you read?
Questions to help your children study the author’s use of words
- Are there words or phrases the author uses that you liked or didn’t like? Which ones? Why did you notice those?
- Are there any words the author uses that you would like to use in your own writing? Which ones? Why? Make a list.
- What are some words that the author uses to give insight into a character’s personality and helps you get to know him or her?
- What words give you a clear picture of the setting for the story?
Questions to help your children read and imagine another point of view
- If you were the main character, what would you do and why?
- If you could write a letter to the main character or the author of the book, what would you write? Write that letter in your journal or notebook.
Questions to help your children illustrate parts of the text
- What is your favorite part of the story? Draw what you see in your mind when you remember that part.
- When the author describes the characters in the story, what do you see in your mind? Draw the character that is most memorable.
- How did you imagine the setting of the story? Draw what you imagine.
- Is there a scene in the book that is memorable? Draw how you picture it.
- Do you have trouble remembering the events and characters in long, chapter books? Become the illustrator of the book and illustrate each chapter after you read it.