Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 29
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
How to Start and Keep a Journal and Improve Reading Skills
The Children’s Book Review
Encouraging kids to read as much as possible is vital but encouraging them to write as much as possible is just as important. If your child loves to write and has their own plan in mind for their writing that is wonderful but if they don’t, or if your child is more resistant to writing, here are some ideas to help create and maintain a writing journal. Luckily, reading and writing can be interwoven in enjoyable, easy, and organic ways!
How to Start a Journal
Have your child pick out a journal, notebook, or composition book of their choice. The more visually appealing it is to them, the more likely they will gravitate towards it to write! Encourage them to put a collage on it or their favorite stickers, art, quotes, or anything that inspires them. Whether your child writes on their own or needs to be pushed a bit, let them know that there is no right or wrong way to journal. The point is to write a little every day, and through that, to build stamina and confidence in expressing any thoughts or opinions.
What to Write About in a Journal
The easiest way to start a journal is to write about the book your child is reading. Is your child reading a book at school with their classroom or teacher? Are they reading a book independently at home? Or with their family? A great way to boost reading comprehension is by writing a summary of their reading.
Here are a few sentence starters for summaries:
- The pages/chapter(s) I read about today were mostly about…
- The most important thing I read about today was…
- The most exciting part of what I read today was…
- These pages were mostly about…and my favorite part was…because…
Options to extend reading summaries can be to add any of the following:
- Burning questions that you can’t wait to share with someone else
- Events that you’d like to discuss with other readers
- Any reading strategy you may have used while reading, such as: predicting, visualizing, or making connections
- An explanation of why these strategies helped aid in comprehension (a great way to start working on metacognition: thinking about thinking)
- Drawings of what you visualized or events in your daily reading
How to Keep a Reading Log Journal
Another option for maintaining a writing journal is to keep a reading log or list of books your child has read. This can be done in any format. One option is to record the book title, author, genre, date completed, and a quick review. This is a great way to spark fun conversations about the various books your child has read and to make text-to-text connections such as exploring which books had similar characters, plots or themes. Whenever your child feels like they don’t know where to start their writing, they can look back at their reading log for inspiration.
Share Book Recommendations in a Journal
Another option for journaling is to write a book review for each completed book. This can be done in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as giving a brief summary and opinion of the book and whether or not they would recommend it to a friend. Encourage your child to take this one step further by asking them to think of someone that might like the book and making sure they recommend it to them. Building a reading life involves sharing books we love with others!
Reading and Writing Strategies for Families
Try to model reading and writing as much as possible for your children. This is the best way to get your kids excited about reading and journaling and to help form a habit. Perhaps you start a weekend ritual of reading and journaling together as a family; this can lead to fun and engaging discussions. Which books are family favorites? Least favorites? Why? Perhaps someone wrote a poem or story they would like to share with the family – this is a great time to do that.
There are many ways that a journal can evolve: it can be writing about reading, or it can turn into a book of poems, short stories, or even a book itself. It’s all up to your kid. Although these tips focus on how to write about reading, it’s important to emphasize to your child that there are SO many different things to write and to write about! They may want to explore trying their hand at various other genres, or perhaps reflections of their day, or their thoughts and feelings.
One great way to start the journal is to have them make a list of things they may want to write about —that way, they can refer to the list and stay motivated!
Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. How to Keep a Journal and 5 Tips on How Journaling Supports Reading Skills was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.