10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #3 Literature

One of the earliest notebooks we implemented in our homeschool was a literature notebook.  At first the notebook held lists of books read — whether by the student or as a family read-aloud — including the title, author, and date read.

Then the forms grew with the student to include other books by the same author, a brief synopsis, and critical analysis.

These days “reading logs” have fallen out of favor. No doubt, a reading log can have a negative effect on a reader, especially if such logs are used as a means to “verify” the student has read a book!

This is not the purpose of a literature notebook. Through narrations, we will already know if a student has absorbed the material.

What we are attempting to accomplish with a literature notebook is to encourage the reader to interact with what he is reading. This means ultimately he gets to decide what goes into his literature notebook. Our role is to help him begin the habit of making records of what he has read.

As an adult, I still have a list of the books I’ve read, with favorite quotes and thoughts included.  Notebooking certainly serves a lifelong learner for life!

  • Start small.  Fill a binder with attractive notebooking pages for carefully — and neatly — recording the titles, authors, and dates of books read.  The student can even add a simple word or two that described his reaction to the book. Begin the recording habit!
  • Branch out to forms that include room for a brief synopsis and other interesting information.  You can even include room for illustrating a character or scene if your child is artistic.
  • Next, move on to that blank page — the goal of notebooking!  Your student can create a page in his literature notebook for each book read that includes the title, date read, and other agreed-to information, with room for quotes, notes, and other personally relevant thoughts.
  • Instead of a “book report,” include a few written narrations in the literature notebook, or one final summary narration for each book.
  • Older students can include any notes that they may have taken while reading the book; questions asked, and answered (or that are unanswered that still need to researched).  Any highlighting made while reading can be transcribed into personal book notes.
  • An older student should be able to write a critical review of the work read.  Rather than how well a piece of literature was enjoyed (how it made him feel or what he didn’t like), this type of review should focus on how well the author practiced his craft.  Were the characters well developed?  Did he paint the scenes or bring them to life? Does the student agree with the premise?  Etc.
  • Make an author notebook (see download below).  Instead of a book list driving the notebook, have a page for each author read.  Include interesting background information about the author, and a list of the various books by the author that the student has read.  Comparisons between scenes, characters, and other themes in various books by the same author can also be included.

Additional Resources

6 Ways to Get the Most from Literature-Based Studies
Ways to interact with what is read — including keeping a literature notebook.

7 Ways to Mark a Book
Helpful ideas for the older student that will lead to content for a literature notebook.


A host of recommended titles (many free eBooks) with notebooking suggestions included.

Who Should We Then Read? by Jan Bloom
A book about books set up by author.  Very helpful for creating an author notebook.

Reading Lists
Other ideas….

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Reading Log
Notebooking page from K-12 Reader to record books read.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
These can be used for each book read, making a record of the book along with an illustration.

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}

Author Notebooking Pages
Simple pages that include room for copywork, narrations, an illustration and dates of birth/death of the author, and books by the author.

Enjoy the entire series:
10 Ways to Use Notebooking
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: Complete Series


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