Literacy skill development is an obvious benefit when students write about what they read. Literature response takes many forms, but don’t let boring “prompts” overshadow the autonomy and creativity that reading+writing can fuel when synchronized.
Use these quick instructional design reminders and creative resources:
Give Students a Voice
Sharing opinions on what they read using Write About gives students the opportunity to publish informally to a safe audience. This happens on the internet! It’s OK if the writing is not perfect. It lets them be heard and validates them as a reader and writer. Writing creative book reviews and sharing recommendations gives readers a chance to tell their peers about the great (and not so great) books they’ve read.
[Lesson Extension: Turn Book Reviews into a Podcast!]
Reading in class can slip into being a passive activity, but writing about what is read changes that dynamic. It causes reflection. It gets students processing the text on a deeper level than just consuming words on the page. Responding to reading gets them writing, and writing serves as a vessel of communication and learning. It’s a way to solidify their thinking.
[Teacher Challenge: Create custom writing Ideas for your text]
Connect to Personal Experiences
Every reader brings unique life experiences with them to class and will interpret texts through their personal lens. Responding with writing allows students to digest those reactions, dig deeper into which part of the piece was most touching, and uncover why something resonated (or didn’t).
Lesson Plan: Creative Book Reviews]
The Reader to Writer Loop
When crafting responses, the connections between reading and writing are naturally exposed to students.The more students read, the more they see how authors craft the words on the page. Being exposed to a variety of books and genres provides examples of how to include certain features in their own writing. Even without overt teaching, students participate in the structure of a text, the vocabulary, and the imagery at play. The more they read, the easier it will be for them to emulate and experiment with the same devices in their own pieces.
[Idea Gallery: Write about reading examples]
Topics in a book, article, or poem will spark ideas within a student. And what should we do with ideas? Write about them! When learners write, they process their thoughts and make sense of the world around them. The seeds of their next story, poem, or expository piece are being planted when students make connections to text as a writer.
May your students find joy, value, and purpose in the pages they read and write!
Tynea Lewis is a former Title I teacher from Pennsylvania. She was named a 30 Under 30 honoree by the International Literacy Association in 2016 for her work with LitPick Student Book Reviews, an online reading and writing program. When she’s not busy overseeing the program, she loves to spend time with her husband and young daughters, write for a variety of audiences, and escape to the quietness of the mountains. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram at @TyneaLewis or on her blog at tynealewis.com.