Writing About Reading: It’s Time to Kick It Up A Notch (or two)

Jacquie McTaggart published an article in Reading Today‘s April/May 2008 Issue entitled “Appeal to Students’ Pride with Online Book Reviews.” This was a timely article for me since I just put together the May newsletter for my students’ parents stating that I’d like to see my students doing more reading responses (i.e., each and every time they finish reading a book). I like to read what my students write about books since it helps me to better understand their thinking about literature. Hence the reason I’ve given my students options between writing me reader’s letters and composing book report alternatives over the course of the past few years. The book report alternatives, especially, are really neat since it allows students to be uber creative!

In NYC this was easy for me since kids who read 25+ books during the school year received the Chancellor’s Medal. However, without that extrinsic motivation, what is the purpose for kids to write 25+ reading responses? Therefore, finding a way for kids to publish their writing about reading might be the motivation that some need to start responding to the texts they finish. McTaggart suggests online book reviews as a way for students to write about their reading. Though I’ve been having my students use BookHooks for the past two years, there were many other resources she mentioned in her article that piqued my interest. She suggested that students write book reviews on everything from Amazon.com to KidsBookshelf.

Still need ideas for getting your students to write about their reading in authentic ways? Check out this 2004 English Journal article by Arvidson and Blanco.

For more info about book report alternatives and reader’s letters, take a look at these two documents:
Book Report Alternatives
Description of Reader’s Letters