A reading journal is an ongoing writing exercise designed to aid in understanding, critical engagement with and synthesis of ideas between various academic or professional sources encountered in a course of study.

A good reading journal entry should include:

  • A full bibliographic citation. The style should be consistent, and in accordance with whatever is common in your field, such as MLA or APA. This will make it easy to create a list of references for more formal writing pieces later on in your course.  

  • A summary of the book or article.

  • Quotes from the reading. Record important sections that you have highlighted or underlined during reading, including the page reference.

  • A personal response to the reading. What previous experience do you have that is connected with the topic?  What memories does this article or book stir in you?  Is it easy for you to understand/agree with the writer, or is the piece hard to follow or accept for some reason?

  • Questions raised by the text. Think of a set of questions to guide your discussion of the material with your peers and teacher(s). These questions might eventually form the basis of more formal writing project.

  • Any other notes, thoughts, arguments, or feelings about what you’ve read.


Open the exercise to begin the activity. Follow the instructions in the document.