You are on page 1of 5

A Reader’s Journal

What is it?

A record of what you read – PLUS

 Plot events, character notes
 Initial impressions
 Questions that probe character, clarify plot events, delve into
meaning of language, symbol, structure
 Personal response to plot, character, theme, language
 Connections back to other stuff in the text
 Connections to own reading background, personal background
and to other “stuff” learned
 Answers to your earlier questions as they become clearer to you
– this is an ongoing thinking process that becomes richer and
more complex as you read and as you practice this skill
 Your analysis of inferences, allusions, connotations in language
or questions which highlight these ideas to be answered later in
your notes
 Analysis and/or picking out of
- symbols
- figurative language (metaphor, simile)
- important quotations which reveal character,
theme, forward the plot elements and/or support
your ideas about these things

How do I write it?

- Divide your page in half – use the

right hand side of the page for
analysis and questioning – use the
left hand side for plot details
- Some people use coloured
highlighters to go back and pick out
common elements such as symbol,
metaphor etc.1
- Keep your notes as you read – but
“chunk” your reading – i.e. read a
logical “chunk” then stop and make
your notes
- I would encourage you to read with a
stack of sticky notes beside you and
as you come across something that

1 I have attached a sample of what your reader’s journal might look like
you have a question about,
something that surprises you, or
something you can make a
connection to, make a quick note,
stick the note in the text and then
when you’re done reading, go back
to the sticky notes to write your
reader’s journal response.
- Here are some suggestions of what
you can record in your journal:
• Make predictions
• Connect to personal experiences
• Visualize
• Identify the main idea
• Ask questions
• Recognize sequence
• Compare and contrast
• Identify cause and effect
• Summarize
• Draw conclusions
• Express opinions
• Identify and interpret the meaning of figurative language
• Identify and analyze problems and solutions
• Identify author’s purpose

What if I don’t understand something I have read?

- Depends on what it is – vocabulary?

- Allusion?
- Inference?

Try to guess at the meaning from context (words, sentences around
it) – note it if you think it affects meaning and go back later to look it
up – otherwise skip and continue reading.

Reference to a well known idea or event – note it – try to guess
what it means – check it out later –you will need to improve your
background knowledge in order to understand what you are reading
(this is partly my job to assist you – we will be looking at lots of
allusions and figuring them out together).

Something that is not directly stated but which the reader must
make a number of connections about to figure out - This is reading
between the lines – often writers tell us important things about
character and theme indirectly – the more complex the text, the
more inferences it has – picking these out takes practise – the more
you do it the better you get at it – inferences build up in novels and
add layers of meaning and depth to what you read – this is the
essential difference between pop culture fiction i.e. Hannibal and
great literature, i.e. Fugitive Pieces.

How will my journal be evaluated?

- Level one – minimal pass (D) – notes are almost

exclusively plot events but are at least detailed and
thorough, some attempt to understand inference, some
questioning, enough to show basic comprehension of
- Level two – satisfactory –(C) notes are complete, plot
events detailed, character analysis done, some
inferences identified, questioning shows ability to
understand some complex ideas but connections may
not be made or may be simple connections only
- Level Three – good – (B – A ) notes are complete and
detailed, character analysis thorough and insightful,
identifies themes, picks out uses of language, has strong
questioning skills and is able to make some connections
among and between ideas.
Level Four – excellent – (A +) notes are very thorough and
detailed, insights show ability to make connections at the highest
level and to understand deeply buried inferences - questioning
shows probes that are complex and abstract, understanding of
all elements of the text is demonstrated and connected, i.e.
character, theme and language connected

Due dates for your reader’s journal will be as follows:

Author’s Note and Part 1 March 29

Part 2 up to chapter 72 April 5
The rest of Part 2 and Part 3 April 12
Sample Selection of a Reader’s Journal
The Great Gatsby

Plot Thinking
Narrator says that he is the type of Seems like type of narration will be 1st
person people seem to want to share person, but the narrator is not really the
their stories with pg 5 main character. He talks so much
about being a tolerant person. Raises
question of reliability. Will have to pay
attention to this as I read.
“Only Gatsby…was exempt” pg 6 Gatsby is the narrator’s weak spot. He
seems a little biased when it comes to
Nick comes from a wealthy family. Why is it better to come from “old
Grandfather’s brother made his wealth money”? Isn’t part of the American
in the wholesale hardware business, Dream the idea that if you work hard
but they claim they come from nobility enough, you can be successful?
which is not true. Pg 7
Description of Nick’s living Nick isn’t as wealthy as his neighbours
accommodations for the year (1922). but he’s hardly poor. He makes it
Describes it as a “cardboard bungalow” sound like he is. This helps confirm for
but he has a housekeeper. me that I have to read between the
lines when it comes to his narration of
Setting: “due east of New York…a pair Contrast between old money and new
of enormous eggs, identical in contour money. New money is “less
and separated by only a courtesy fashionable” so Gatsby is also new
bay…” pg 9. Nick lives in West Egg money and therefore less fashionable
which is “less fashionable” next to
Gatsby’s mansion
Tom and Daisy Buchanan introduced. Tom comes from old money so they
Daisy is Nick’s second-cousin once live in East Egg.
removed and Nick knew Tom from
school. Tom’s family is very wealthy.
Pg 10
Description of Tom on pg 11 For someone who claims to not be
judgmental, Nick’s characterization of
Tom as a jerk is pretty strong. He
reminds me of Gaston from Beauty and
the Beast.
(You’ll probably find that you write a lot at the beginning of the novel, but as you
read further, don’t feel you have to comment on every single detail.)