What is a Reading Journal?
Reflective writing helps you make personal sense out of the rich, complex, and confusing
information you are learning and ideas you are confronting. As the term implies, this
type of writing is like a mirror, giving you an opportunity to look at your developing
understanding of the world and its people. This personal connection increases your
motivation, purpose, and involvement by helping you define what you want to learn and
say. Journals provide space for examining your readings and your thoughts in great
detail, following through on your observations in whichever way strikes you as
A journal for an academic class is not the same as a personal diary. While this is a more
informal type of writing than an essay, students should follow standard writing practices
and grammatical conventions.
What should you write about?
I am looking for critical analysis and original thought, so do not just tell me what you
think I want to hear. I want to hear what YOU think about the literature—what
connections YOU make to the literature. You may discuss the text in any way you see fit,
but if you are not sure where to start, the next page includes a list of writing prompts for
students to respond to. Each prompt should be the single focus of your Journal
discussion. You are not to “answer” the prompts like they are questions. They are
designed to help you explore your own developing understanding of the text.
There will also be weekly prompts available in addition to the ones listed below that are
specific to the texts we are discussing. I will provide those in the weekly module on
Students will write a total of 8 Weekly Reading Journals. Students can choose which
weeks they want to write about, except the first one which I will assign during the
second week of class. Otherwise, it does not matter to me which week or which texts
students choose to reflect upon.
Journals should be 1-2 pages (250-500 words), typed, double-spaced, using Times New
Roman font in 12 pts. Appropriate headings and titles are required. See the handout on
eLearn for additional formatting guidelines and an example of how all submitted
assignments should appear.
The journal should be well-organized into paragraphs and apply correct source usage
practices (like quotations) according to MLA documentation style, but you do not need
to provide a Works Cited page.
Be sure to state specifically which text you are discussing so there is no confusion.
When are they due? Journals are due when you complete them, and you can submit
any journal for any week, but you may only do one journal per week. So, if you look at
the due dates in the drop box on eLearn, you will see that starting October 11, one drop
box will close each week on Sunday at Noon.
Submitting Journals: Students can complete the journals for any week they want.
So, the first journal you write you will put in the Journal 1 drop box, the second in the
Journal 2 drop box and so on until you have completed all 8 Reading Journal
Assignments. Students will choose different weeks up to the max of 8, so once you
finish your 8 journal assignments, you are no longer required to do any. This is designed
to be flexible. I suggest you do not wait to begin until later in the semester because you
will have fewer options and less flexibility as the semester progresses.
Journals are worth up to 25 points each and will be evaluated based on the following
10 points max
length, format, topic,
may miss something
Two or more
15 points max
Critical analysis that
or mere summary
with a commentary
that lacks original
Journal Writing Prompts: Choose one prompt each week to help guide your writing.
You may use the same prompt on multiple weeks, but I encourage students to use a
variety if possible. You do not HAVE TO use the prompts. These are here to help you if
you don’t know what to write about. If you need help, please contact me.
A quote I like or reacted to strongly is…
This reminds me of…
This line is interesting/ challenging/ puzzling because…
I now understand why/how/what…
I was surprised by…
Some questions I have are…
I’m confused about…
I think the theme of the text is…
I think the purpose of the text is…
What characters stand out to you? Why?
Something I have learned from reading the text is…
Do you enjoy this genre? Explain.
Did you connect to a character or event? Explain how
Did your mind wander during reading? Why?
Did the text hold many surprises? Explain
Explain why you think this text is important?
What is the most important thing you will take with you from this text? Explain your
Discuss the symbols used in the text
How does this text affect your understanding of the culture that produced it?
Can you connect the text to our current culture in any way? Explain your answer.
If you hated something we read, you can discuss that as well. But you need to discuss
why you hated it. Was it the topic? Form? Style? Did you not understand what was
happening? If not, what do you need to understand it? Analyze yourself!
If you are still stuck about what to write about, please let me know. I can help.