> The Things You Can Read: ACTIVE Readers

The Things You Can Read welcomes you and thanks you for your readership. We, here at The Things You Can Read, ask your help, if you visit our site regularly, please follow us either via email or Google Friend Connect.  Launched on June 7, 2012, our site has already attracted a great deal of attention.  One of the goals of the site is to feature reviews of Children's Picture Books, Young Adult novels and Adult Literary Fiction/Nonfiction.  A second goal for the blog is to be a resource for teachers of English and writing--with examples of student created writing, writing tips, resource links, and the opportunity to pick the brain of a seasoned English teacher.  To spice things up...every now and then, we'll also include random quotes and thoughts on education and life in general, but our ultimate goal is to reach out into the blogosphere and be a "Book Whisperer" and "Writing Whisperer" to children and adults of all ages.   Thank you for your readership.  Here is to a lifetime filled with reading and writing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ACTIVE Readers

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
Awhile back there was a major discussion on one of the Goodreads groups I subscribe to about reviews.  Questions such as-Do you write reviews for the books you read?  What do you think should be covered in a review?  Why bother writing a review-were all bantered back and forth.  The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the reading community at large needed help.  Help?   What kind of help?  

I guess, after thinking long and hard, my answer to that question is...not everyone is versed in how to talk or write about literature.  The discussion made me stop and think about what I personally like to see in a review.  Well, I didn't just think about it; I stopped and jotted down some key points that I consider before I start tapping out a review.  I refer to what I created as my personal set of guided questions.  Questions that I can ask myself each time I sit down to write a critique.  Questions that I ask myself even if I don't write a review.  These questions allow me to take the book to a whole new level.  For me this process is instinctual, something that I have developed over a lifetime of reading, but that is not so for everyone.  For young or immature readers this process has to be taught.  In fact, I teach engagement with the written word to my students, so I know, first hand, not everyone knows how to engage with the written word, or what educators refer to as, be active readers.  

The teacher in me wants everyone to become active readers, and the word active implies you must do something.  A good reader is always doing something with the information they have read, whether it is making predictions, making inferences, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting, or making evaluations/decisions about the material that has been read.  Again I say, good readers do something with what they have read.

As I began my journey into the blogosphere, I realized that maybe this idea of doing something is what the reading and writing community needs.  So, I offer up my personal reflective questions and challenge everyone out there to become ACTIVE.  You don't have to write a review...simply mull over what you have read and reflect-that's one way to be active.  Hey, if you get really motivated, write a review...if you want to get super motivated take it a step further, and publish it on a blog or on Goodreads.  Anyway, I am hopeful that  by sharing these reflective questions I am in some way helping the reading and writing community at large.  

Dr. Seuss said it best:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
Start going places with your reading by becoming more ACTIVE, and without further ado, here they are, a few guided questions...talking points-if you will-to consider as you engage your brain and become more ACTIVE readers. 


Is the book memorable? Ask yourself:  Do you remember a great deal about the book or is the book just a fading memory?

Is the book socially relevant?  Does the book give you a better understanding of diverse social groups? 

Is the book informative?  Are you more informed after reading the book? 

Is the book original?  Does the book feel different from the majority of books you read in this genre?  

Is the book thought provoking? 

Is the book well written?  Does it express the story, ideas, and delivery in a clear and engaging manner? 

Is the book entertaining?  Did you have a desire to return to the novel as soon as you could?  

Is the book a visual treat?  Did the writing allow you to visualize images, such as scenery in your mind?   Did you see characters in your mind's eye?  

Is the book emotionally charged?  Did the book spark emotion: laughter, sadness, anger, or excitement?

Is the book life changing?  Did you change in some way after having read the book?  

Please Note:  Not all of these questions work for every book, but they are a framework-a jumping off place-to use as a reference as you connect with the written word.  I'd love to know what questions you ask yourself.  Leave a comment and share the questions you use to engage with the the written word!


  1. I copy/pasted those questions. I'll try to review my next book with these questions in mind and compare to my usual style of book reviewing. I always know when I've written a "lazy" review. It doesn't tell the reader of my blog anything about the book! I'll be excited to give this a go. Belle

  2. Very interesting. I agree that being an active reader often has to be taught especially since many don't read as much as others. I personally ask myself different questions depending on the book. Sometimes some things stick out to me over others. Sometimes, one question nags me throughout the book because I find myself unsatisfied as a reader.

  3. Fantastic post! I hope you don't mind if I link this to my blog, I want to share it with everyone I know! Thank you so much :)



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