I recently started reading chapter books aloud with my four year old, and we have been having such a great time. We wanted a way to keep track of the different books we have read, and I am always looking for ways to encourage my daughter’s love of reading.
So we started a reading journal where she can write and draw about each book that we read. I have found this to be an excellent way to reinforce comprehension, enhance writing skills, and celebrate the milestone of finishing a book (which is a big deal to kids).
Making (and using) a reading journal is so easy to do, and appropriate for any age child.
You will need:
- a journal of some sort – I used a watercolor Moleskine, but you could use any notebook or journal you have. You could even make your own notebook by stapling pieces of paper together into a booklet.
- colored pencils, markers, crayons or watercolors
- different colored card stock
- glue (not shown)
Use the colored card stock to decorate the notebook you will be using for your reading journal. I cut out the letters R-E-A-D freehand, and glued them on the outside and inside of the cover.
I also added our favorite Dr. Seuss quote onto the inside cover. You can be as elaborate or simple as you wish when designing your reading journal. I wanted to keep it simple, but decorate it enough to make it special for my daughter.
When you and your child finish a book, invite your child to make an entry in their reading journal.
Start with writing. You can customize this depending on the age and writing ability of your child. Beginning writers can start by just printing the title. If they are able, have your child either write a brief synopsis of the entire story, or a description of their favorite part of the book. They can also write a response to a writing prompt or discussion question. (You can find discussion questions for nearly any book imaginable by doing a quick internet search.)
Since my daughter is only 4, she uses the cover of the book to help her write the title and then dictates a few sentences to me and I write them out for her.
The only thing to remember is that the reading journal should be fun. It shouldn’t ever feel forced, or like homework, and it definitely shouldn’t be a struggle between you and your child. In our house, we treat the reading journal like a huge privilege, and a celebration for finishing a good book.
After your child finishes the writing portion, have them draw a picture. You can suggest that your child draw their favorite scene from the book, or their favorite character(s), or leave it completely open ended.
You may want to challenge your child to explore different artistic mediums or techniques in their reading journal.
Some mediums to try:
- colored pencils
- sketching pencils
- mixed media
I love that we not only will have a record of all of the books that we have read together, but we will also be able to look back through the reading journal and see how my daughter’s abilities have developed over the years.