Ever since we launched our kids’ reading journal last year, we hear over and over again that it’s helping kids develop great habits around their reading. Parents tell us that kids love the questions and layout, that it helps them reflect on what they’ve read, and that they love recording their experience in a journal that is all their own.
Journaling has become part of the reading routine at our house. Bean uses her reading journal to record her favorite picture books each week. She’s not writing much yet, so I sit down with her to read the questions aloud. She fills in what she can, and she draws lots of pictures. Lu likes to journal about all the books she reads on her own, and both girls record their thoughts about the middle grade books that we read aloud together. Usually the girls do this right after they finish a new book.
We’re glad other families are loving the journal, too, but we know that any journaling habit is great for kids. As our friend Bethany from Biracial Bookworms reminded us in a recent post about why her kids journal every day, “The Reflection process is key to developing critical thinking skills in a child.” Still, it’s hard to keep up with any habit, especially one that—let’s face it—you need to remind your kids to complete daily.
Tips for getting started with journaling for kids
Based on our experiences and the feedback we’ve gotten from others, we wanted to share a few ideas for implementing the journal into your family’s reading routine:
- Consider starting a new journal on the new calendar or school year. That way you can see your child’s progress and capture memories based on specific life events.
- Take responsibility for reminding the kids to use it. When we finish a book, I immediately ask the girls to get out their journals—otherwise we will forget.
- Create your own ratings system so your ratings are consistent. (We’ve found that if you don’t do this, kids will give most books a solid five.) Ask the kids why they rated the book the way they did and compare to other books that they’ve rated the same.
- Set goals for reading and use the journal to measure your progress. This doesn’t have to be high-pressure. Make a list of five books you want to read in the front of the journal and then cross them out as you read. Then add to the list as you go.
- Experiment with what works for your child and family. Maybe doing batch entries is less stressful than doing single entries. Maybe your child wants to do it independently, or maybe it becomes part of your routine when you finish a book. Perhaps your child only journals about middle grade books, or perhaps they record only picture books. Maybe it’s just about reflection, or maybe it’s about keeping track of their progress. There’s no right or wrong way to use it.
Most importantly, make sure the journal isn’t just more work. We’re all about making reading fun and simple, and we want to keep it that way!
If you already have a MY LIFE IN BOOKS journal—or a different journal your child uses frequently—we’d love to hear about how your family uses it! Let us know in the comments below.