A reading log is a diary or journal that allows individuals to document their reading experience. It is simply a note about what you have read so far, where you read it, and how many pages you’ve read. It summarizes what a person reads, highlights the date, chapters, and often interested readers even note the author’s name, the storyline, their favorite scene, and much more, depending on their preferences.
A reading log has other similar names. The three names below are the synonyms of a reading log:
- Reading journals
- Reading diaries
- Reading registers
General impact of using a reading log
Reading log enables you to capture your thoughts about the book, your connection to the text, style, storyline, and the characters you come to know. It lets you gain insight into the text. If you are a bookworm, continue to keep a reading diary. It will encourage you to summarize and organize your reading. As a reading journal allows you to summarize, it also gives you a more memorable literary experience by enabling you to share your views on the quality of the book you read.
A reading log has various purposes, from keeping records to summarizing to tracking your reading.
The following are the various purposes explained in detail:
It keeps the record – It can be tough to remember what you have read, especially if you read books almost every day. A reading log will help you keep track of what you have read.
It records your thoughts – When you read books, you always have your thoughts and opinions on what you read. A reading log enables you to record what you think or feel about what you have read.
It helps you summarize – A reading log will help you summarize important information on the books you read. This is important when you want to remind yourself of a particular book. You do not need to read an entire book as you have summarized it in your reading log.
It helps you track your reading – A reading log will remind you where you have reached in your reading as it is easy to forget at times, and bookmarks can be misplaced.
It traces your impressions – A reading journal allows you to record your impressions. You can write your opinions, remarks, or suggestions and recommend them to anyone. This helps you find out what the book did for you and how it influenced and affected everything inside you. You can prove how thoughtful you are by reading your impressions.
It helps you remember things – Research has proven that writing or rephrasing in your own words will help you remember things. Therefore, a reading log will help you remember everything about the books you have read.
It helps you write better – The more you read, and the more you write, you become a better writer. You will learn more about grammar and vocabulary. You also become more creative as you will encounter books from different authors.
Creating a Reading Log
Creating a reading log will be easy once you know what to do. You might be creating one for academic purposes or educational purposes. We have explained both scenarios in this section to guide you when you make a reading log.
For Academic Purposes
The aim of academic reading logs is to help teachers monitor the reading volume of their students and to help students keep track of their reading experiences. Reading logs can act as teaching materials and data for the instructor.
Here is what you should do when crafting a reading log for academic purposes:
Go through your assignment
State your assignment’s expectations. Read your assignments carefully and consult with your teacher if you have questions. Include the title and author, dates you read each page, time spent reading, etc.
Craft a log with suitable categories
Your reading log can be in a notebook or computer document. The template you create should have spaces where you will write about all the categories you need. You can also find some templates online.
Read bibliographic information correctly
A lot of reading logs will ask you to keep a careful bibliographic citation. This will enable you to do citations correctly. Note down the book’s title, author, publication date, the publisher and his/her location, etc.
Enter all your reading assignments
You can include materials such as books, academic reading, poems, and even movies in your journal. You might lose track of your work if you postpone entering a reading assignment to a later date.
Read slowly and attentively
Take your time when you go through your reading assignments. Think carefully while reading and pay attention to important details to avoid rereading. Take notes while reading, noting the main theme of your passage. This will help you when filling in the information in your reading log.
List down the factual details
Many reading logs will require you to keep track of a text’s facts. These details are factual and do not require further interpretation. They are:
- The plot elements
- Important argument
- Character names
Note your observation
Write down anything that shows a connection between the book and your life (thoughts, activities, or feelings). Also, think about your feelings (anything that you particularly love or hate).
Write a formal journal entry
Write your journal entry in paragraphs instead of bullet points. Your journal should follow a single theme that builds a connection between passages. When writing a formal journal, the most important step is finding three or more passages that follow a common theme like love or despair.
Copy key passages
Reading logs will require you to find passages that are worth analyzing further. Search for quotes that you find interesting, confusing and mysterious that you might use as evidence in the future for your analytical papers. It is important to write down the page number and the name of the speaker when you copy any passage.
Make analytical claims
Some teachers will ask you start making analytical statements while you are reading. You may use your informal reading diary to help direct other assignments, such as articles, reply essays, or published passages. Think of how the passages compare to each other and understand the historical or social importance of the literature you are studying.
For Personal Use
A personal reading log helps you to develop a reading habit and makes the experience more engaging. It shows you what book you have read and what book you are currently reading.
Buy an attractive journal
Buy an attractive blank journal to stay motivated. Many stationeries and book stores sell journals (lined or unlined) depending on your preferences. There are also journals with plain, simple covers or decorative ones. Purchase a journal with the archival paper if you intend to keep it for a long time. This will prevent the degradation or yellowing of pages.
Keep it near your reading place
Store your reading log in a safe place near a place where you like to read. Where you store, it should be easily accessible. Stay consistent with where you store your reading log so that you do not misplace it. It is also important to keep a working pen in the same place.
Take notes while reading
Try to note your most important observations to remember them later. Every reader notes down different kinds of things.
These questions will help you choose what to include in your reading log:
- If you were the book’s author, what would you change about the book?
- Are there any characters you like or hate? Why?
- What is interesting about the plot? Any mysteries to be solved?
- Have your opinions on any of the characters changed?
- Do you like the author’s style?
- Does this book help you know anything about your world, about another state, or about history?
Ponder the book once it is complete
Take some time after you have finished the whole book to reflect on its meaning and value. Ask yourself what your favorite and least favorite part of the text was. What has shocked you? How did your feelings shift between the beginning and the end of the book?
Mention the bibliography information
Listing down the bibliography information will enable you to do citations correctly. The bibliography information includes:
- The book’s title,
- Publication date
- The publisher and his/her location, etc.
Add dates and page numbers
Write down the dates when you read. Understand how what is going on in your life will change your reactions to feelings on the books you’ve read. If you have this information written down, you will always return to these citations.
Reread your journals
Writing a report is effective when you can go back and read your thoughts and responses. Flip over your reading journal every year or two. Do you see similarities or similar trends in your reading? Has your reading inspired you to handle situations in your own life?
There are details of a reading log that must be included in any log to make it effective. This information includes the book title, start and finish dates, etc. Below are the details that we think are important to include in your reading log:
- Start and finish date- Since your reading diary serves a journal-like purpose, it is advisable to write down the dates when you read it. Understand how what’s going on in your life will change your reactions and feelings to the books you have read.
- Title of the book– This will help you if you remember a certain story in the future, but you do not remember the name of the book.
- Author of the book- It is important to note the author’s name in case you want to refer a book to someone.
- Page number- The page number is important for when you want to find a certain passage or section, you would like to reread.
- Category-There are many types of categories, i.e., action, horror, fantasy, history, etc.
- Book publishing date- Including the publishing, date is important for citation purposes.
Make It Fun
Apart from the information, we have given above, here are a few more to make your reading log fun and effective:
- Short plot summary- Write a short summary of the book for when you tell other people what it entails or when you want to remind yourself about the story.
- Likeness scale- Draw a scale of 1-10. One being greatly disliked and ten highly like and choose a number showing how you liked the book. This will be helpful when you recommend a book to someone else, and you share the same taste.
- Favorite quotes from the book- This is important as you can apply an author’s quote in your daily life or in writing an article.
- Your most hated or liked character- You can use this information when discussing a book with a person who has read it to compare your characters.
- Strengths and weaknesses- Highlight the book’s strengths and weaknesses, which you could use when discussing with your friends at a book club.
- Your favorite scenes- Include information from your favorite parts of the book. Scenes that made you want to read the book more.
- Moral of the story- What have you learnt from the story you have read? Write what you have gotten from the book. For example, you can note down you have learnt that forgiveness is important for self-development.
Writing a reading log is relatively easy, especially if you have a guide that helps you write one. Templates reduce the amount of time you take when writing a reading diary since you do not have to write them from scratch. We have provided you with downloadable and easy-to-follow templates on our website to guide you in writing your reading log. Check out our website and download our templates and give them a try.
Crafty Tips to Try
Writing a reading log is not a difficult task to undertake. Here are some tips we believe will help you write an effective reading log.
- Let your reading diary be a kind of rough draft. Write your reading log in a way that you find fun and interesting. Your reading log is personal to you, and no one else will use it; therefore, there is no need to write it in a way that you don’t find interesting. A rough draft is a simple way to do it.
- Write your thoughts down while you read. Writing your thoughts down will make reading a book more exciting and engaging rather than just reading it and going to another book. Write what you felt about the book, suggestions, and opinions.
- Read effectively and actively. Continuous reading will make it a habit for you, and it will also improve your grammar and vocabulary.
- Keep a record of your journals, preferably, store them all in a specific place. This is important for future use when you want to find information on a book that you have read before or when you want to recommend a book to someone.
There are some warning signs that you ought to consider when using a reading log. Below are some of the signs explained in detail:
- If you find that a reading log is discouraging you from reading, you might choose to discontinue the practice. Having a reading log is not suitable for everyone. You might find it tiring to keep a record of what you are reading, which may make you lose interest in reading books. Therefore, if a reading log discourages you from reading, you can choose to stop the practice and go back to your normal reading habits.
- Backup copies of your journal as you don’t want to lose your work if your computer crashes. Computers are liable to crashes. Therefore, it is advisable to back up copies of your journals on your google drive, which does not require a specific computer.
Sometimes, readers want to preserve and adjust their reading logs to make them more exciting and convenient for themselves. Nowadays, it’s used in schools by teachers and at home by parents who keep them to develop a habit of reading among them. A reading log lets you record your thoughts about the book, your connection with the text, style, background, storyline, and the characters you come to know. It lets you gain insight into the text. We hope this article has given you knowledge on reading logs and how to write one.