Reader’s Notebooks: Choice Matters

Dr. Krashen tells us to put away book reports, comprehension questions, tests and quizzes. Instead,  ELA teachers Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle use Reader’s Notebooks.  Students jot down impressions, book lists, reading logs, etc. As the pages fill with their reflections; students start to see themselves as readers.  However, some ELLs struggle to put ideas in writing. I help my ELLs become autonomous readers by offering low accountability, low/no output choices.

Mini Notebooks

Hard to believe, but shrinking the size of the notebook changes everything!  The tiny pages seem less threatening, and students feel more like their ideas are safe, not judged.



Crisp white paper with no lines and no judgement allows young artists to show off. Writing/labeling is optional.  For just 5 minutes after reading, students have a Pavlovian response when I play soft music as they sketch their favorite part of the story: students associate books and relaxing.


Let students chose fun colors, sizes, and shapes, or even just a simple flag note to mark anything interesting to them.


If nothing jumped out at them-that’s okay, just help them find a more inspiring book.  If they did mark pagesbut didn’t write/draw, let them dictate to you their impressions. Show genuine interest as they discuss their book and honor comments they make by recording them on the post-it.  Sitting alongside them and engaging them builds interest in reading and models autonomous response to text.



Some students just can not get comfortable putting pen to paper.  Blogging can be more fun and help students use what they read to feel like an expert.


Here’s an example blog made by my biological child/guinea pig.  Edublogs and Google Classroom offer password-protected blogs.  It does take time to set up (sub day?), but updating posts takes no time at all.


Published by

Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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