Responding to Reading: Choices

Rubric for responses to reading

Habits of mind for responding to reading:

1. The habit of observation: What do you notice? This is the capacity to slow down, pay attention, notice the unusual detail, fact, or statistic—one that is not evident at first glance.

2. The habit of generalization. A key question is “What do you make of this?” What inferences, judgments, evaluations, conclusions, theses do you arrive at? It is to think in patterns, to make connections.

3. The habit of evidence. What is the basis of your generalizations? And what makes you think this evidence is solid, when there is so much suspicious information available?

4. The habit of considering alternatives. How could it be otherwise? What credible positions might differ from yours? What are the “rivals” to your own position?— what  would you say to a person who argued…?  How would you explain…? That accounts for this, but what about…? Wherever my students are, I will try to be someplace different.

Novel Discussion Guide

Asking Questions About Literature

Setting Responses

1. Why is the story set where it is? Does it have to take place where it is?
2. Would you film this story in black and white or color and why?
3. Questions About Setting

4. Rank the Importances of Settings, graphic organizer.
5. Setting + or – chart.

Character Responses

  1. Character Comparison
  2. Character Study
  3. Compare Self to Character
  4. Postcard from a character about a conflict
  5. Discussion Guide for Novel Groups Character
  6. Who is the most interesting character in the book so far?  Why?  What does the character do, say, or think that makes him/her interesting?  How is this character like/unlike the characters from the other novels?If you were to film this story, what characters would you eliminate if you couldn’t use all the characters?
  7. How is the main character different from  you?
  8. Describe a minor character/person in the book who had major importance. Explain.
  9. LettersWrite a letter to the character giving advice or encouragement.
  10. Diary Entries—Choose an incident or event from your story that might cause one of the characters to respond in a journal.  Taking the role of the character, explain what happened and how you felt about it.  You might want to create journal entries for more than one day in your character’s life.
  11. Character Web—Draw a portrait of your selected character in the middle of your journal page.  List three to five traits that describe that character; write these around the character’s portrait.  (Adaptation: Now find a specific passage from your book to support each trait.  Copy that passage next to the trait.  Be sure to list the page number.)
  12. Questions About Character.
  13. Character Shift Chart.
  14. Iceberg Chart.
  15. Character + or – Chart.


  1. Plotting the Plot
  2. Episode Analysis
  3. Plot Sequence Strips—In six text boxes, write out the sequences of the chapter or the book, then illustrate them with captions below.
  4. Sketch a Scene—Fold your paper into four.  Number the boxes 1-4.  In each box draw a picture from the scene.  Write about the progression of events in clear descriptive sentences.  At the top of your page add a three word summary.
  5. Predictions: The envelope please
  6. Reading Comprehension to help you keep track of characters and the plot
  7. Select two key events and explain how each provides insight into the character’s personality.
  8. Cause/Effect Explanation—Find a place in your book where something happened as a result of an action taken by a character or by an event that occurred.  On one side of your paper, illustrate what you see as the cause.  Write a brief explanation underneath.  On the other side, illustrate the result and write your explanation.
  9. Why or why would this story not make a good TV series?
  10. Was the ending of the novel satisfactory?  Why or why not?  In what ways is your book’s ending like/unlike the other novels?
  11. If this book had gone one more chapter, what would have happened? Explain.
  12. Questions and Prediction, graphic organizer.

Point of View

  1. Recasting the Text
  2. What would this story be like if the main character were of the opposite sex, or a different social class?


1. What is the theme of your book? If you just started, predict the theme. What is an important event in the book that leads you to think this is the theme? Explain. What is a line from the book that demonstrates or captures this theme? Explain.
2. Describe one lesson for life that a modern reader might take from this book.  Explain how that lesson is developed.
3. What do you think is the theme of the novel you’re reading?  In other words, what is the “deeper message” of the book?  Explain how you can tell that this is the author’s purpose.  Is this message like/unlike the themes of the other novels?
4. Questions About Theme

Supporting a Theory about a Text

  1. Literary mock trial
  2. Select a Quote
  3. If you had to design a new cover for this book what would it look like and why?
  4. What do you think the author’s purpose and intended audience is? Explain why and support your answer.
  5. Rate the book. Explain in detail why you gave this book that score. Explain in detail why you gave this book that score.
  6. Evaluate the ending of the book. Considering how the book unfolded, is it an effective ending? Why? Why not?

Observing Text Structure, Development & Author’s Craft

  1. Novel Partners Handout
  2. Silent Reading Record
  3. Learning Log
  4. Reread the first paragraph. What is in it that made you read on?
  6. What does the title tell you about the book? Does it tell the truth? How, or in what sense? Is it the best title?
  7. Describe one major external conflict and one major internal conflict found in the book.
  8. What is a key moment in your novel?  (A key moment is when something important happens.)  Why is it a key moment?  How is your key moment like or unlike key moments in the other novels?
  9. Choose five of the following sentence starters and write a brief reflection for each. Attach your reflections to this sheet”
    • I noticed
    • I wonder
    • I was reminded of…
    • I think
    • I’m surprised that
    • I’d like to know
    • I realized
    • If I were
    • The central issue(s) is (are)
    • One consequence of –––––––– could be
    • If_______________, then
    • I’m not sure
    • Although it seems
  10. Poems about Books
  11. Questions About Structure
  12. Metaphorical Connection Sentence Completions.


  1. What is one thing in this text that has happened to you?
  2. Sketching and Drawing—Use shape, design, image, and color to represent what you feel about your book.  You might want to recreate a significant scene, depict how a character is feeling, capture the mood or tone of the events in this chapter, illustrate the conflict, or portray your feelings about this book at this point in your reading.
  3. How does this text remind you of other things that have happened in the world around you?
  4. How is this story or text like another story or text you’ve read?
  5. Questions That Foster Personal Connections


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