Reading Response Journal Nonfiction

Today we are talking about how to keep track of all the things you learn from books by creating and setting up a reading response journal.

What you’ll learn:

  • Active Reading Definition
  • Reading Goals
  • Overall Reading Process
  • Active Reading Strategies
  • Annotating Text
  • How To Create Your Reading Response Journal
  • Reading Response Examples
  • Reading Response Log
  • Reading Response Prompts

There are many different systems for reading and successfully implementing a book.

Reading Response Journal for Nonfiction books and self help books. Time For Planning . TFP Book Club.


Active Reading Definition

This guide is written to provide ideas and tools to get the most out of every hour you invest in a book.  As you read, you’ll begin to discover techniques you can use to leap into a book to learn new skills and ideas.

You have chosen to read ‘this’ book.  Now it’s time to absorb the author’s thoughts and experiences.  Non-fiction/self-help books offer many benefits. You will be able to do more with your time.  You will make better decisions (and few mistakes). You will improve your creativity.  You will gain new perspectives.

There are some myths and truths when it comes to general reading.  First, you don’t owe anything to the author. You don’t get a red ribbon for finishing a book.  There is no need to feel guilty about not finishing a book that no longer serves its purpose, especially books that don’t add value to your life.  Second, reading faster is not the same as reading better.  Finally, spending more time reading isn’t adding more insight.

Reading Goals

Reading goals serve as motivation for reading.  They define your purpose.

  • Gain insight into things to apply to personal growth
  • Gain new perspectives
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Increase stamina (ability to read for longer periods of time)
  • Improve note-taking methods (aka annotating)
  • Pure Enjoyment!

Reading The Words is not Enough. Reading Response Journal for Nonfiction books and self help books. Time For Planning . TFP Book Club.


Overall Reading Process

  1. Flip through the chapter reading the headings/subheadings.
  2. Read and Annotate.
  3. Reflect.

Active Reading Strategies

In order to gain that insight, it’s crucial to be an active reader.  What is an active reader?  Someone who keeps a pen in their hand while reading.  Someone who has post-it notes handy.  Someone who gets up when they begin to feel sleepy.

Bonus Tip: We all have random items bouncing around in our heads.  Keep a notepad handy to write down those items and then re-focus on your book.

While reading the text constantly ask yourself questions to gain the maximum amount of insight from the book.

Here are some examples of questions and selections to annotate:

  • keywords and key phrases
  • unfamiliar words
  • segments that inspire you to dig deeper
  • What is the author trying to tell me?
  • Why is this passage important?
  • Why you agree or disagree.
  • Reply to the text as if you are in a conversation

There is no right or wrong amount to annotate.  Annotate as much as you need to understand what the section or chapter is about and the supporting details. As long as you get the information needed out of the text, you are doing great.

Annotating Text

The ownership of the book ( if you own the book or if it’s borrowed) determines how you are going to annotate while reading. Whether you write in the book or not, I encourage you to setup a reading notebook.  Your annotations will all be housed in this notebook.  Below you will find the steps for setting up your own reading notebook.

Here are some examples of taking notes while reading:

  • Use Symbols


  • Use Color Pens, Pencils, Highlighters
  • Use Post-It Notes
  • Use page flags

Annotation Supplies

Pens, Pencils, Highlighters

highly recommend the Frixion (Erasable) Highlighters

Post-It Notes

highly recommend various size options

Page Flags

Be specific. Reference the text. Reference the page numbers. Reading Response Journal for Nonfiction books and self help books. Time For Planning . TFP Book Club.


How To Create Your Reading Response Journal

I recommend using a composition notebook.

The Front and Back Covers

You can cover the entire front and back cover to personalize your notebook.

washi tape

scrapbook paper and double-sided tape

  1. Number all the pages of the notebook. It doesn’t matter which corner you choose to write the page number, just be consistent.
  2. Title Page – The title page should contain the title of the book and the author(s).  Be creative with other decoration to add to this page.
  3. Book Club Schedule – This will be provided in the Time For Planning Insight Academy. You can recreate it on your page or you can print it out and adhere it to your page.
  4. Table of Contents – The table of contents from the book.
  5. Background Spread– This could be noted from the book jacket or information about the author(s).
  6. Annotation Spreads – see below for details and ideas
  7. Reading Session Entry– see below for details and ideas
  8. Notebook Index– The notebook index should begin on the very last page of your notebook.  I recommend numbering each line.  The number written represents the page number in your notebook.  As you add content to your reading notebook, add a brief description of the information on each of the pages to the corresponding page number line.

Reading Response Examples

The reading response examples discussed below are various page ideas that you can include in your reading response journal.

(personal) Glossary

Your personal glossary contains words, definition(s), and textual evidence for terms that you aren’t familiar with.  The textual evidence contains the page number(s) and text selection.  Annotation Idea: Circle words you are unfamiliar with.


The themes are the subject areas of the book.  I encourage you to look up the terms in a dictionary to add to your page(s).  You can organize the terms by chapter, by section, or by an on-going list.  Ultimately, you will be creating a custom keyword index for the book.  Annotation Idea: Place a box around themes.


You can create a page for questions that you have as a reader.  Make a numbered list of the questions and then refer to the number when answering the questions later.


You can use some creativity on the quotes pages by adding some personality to the recreation of the quotes.  You could also make a simple list and include any personal insight.


Mindmaps are used for creating, organizing, and thinking.  Every (good) non-fiction book has a set of core concepts and supporting details that the reader must capture.  Mindmaps begin with a central idea and then build branches (or nodes) around that central idea.  Relationships within a mindmap show how concepts are linked together.  In other words, connections are visible through the use of a mindmap.

The simplest way to create a mindmap is by using a pencil and paper.



Reading Response Log

I recommend adding an entry for each reading session.  Use the next available page to setup your reading session entry.  The date and chapter should be noted.  You can use this entry page as you’re reading or after you finish your reading session.  Simply writing notes doesn’t mean you have learned the information. You must actively do something with the information for learning to occur.

Reading Response Prompts

  • 3 Questions


What did you learn?

So What?

Why is it important? Reflect upon the relevance.

Now What?

Take action by implementing your new knowledge. Brainstorm ideas for personal growth. Also, consider ways to extend what you’ve read to other situations.

  • Assign tags for easier reference

Assign a tag for each selection that you’ve underlined, highlighted, boxed, bracketed, etc.  This process is similar to how we function on social media platforms.  A tag is similar to social media hashtags. Remember to note the page number(s).

  • What is your opinion on today’s reading? How do you feel about the topics?
  • What else would you like to know regarding what you read today?
  • Explain the most interesting thing you learned from the reading and why it stood out to you.
  • Sentence Capture- one sentence that stood out the most today.
  • Fast Facts- interesting things you read.
  • Visual Thinking

I can see the…

I can feel the…





  • Viewpoints- brainstorm the perspectives presented

I wonder why…

I wonder how…

I wonder if…

  • Connection Statements

I used to think…

Now I think…

This made me think of…

I remember when…

annotating text should tell you what you were thinking. Reading Response Journal for Nonfiction books and self help books. Time For Planning . TFP Book Club.



The TFP Book Club is a community of readers and learners that join together to read and discuss a variety of books. 

  • Encourages setting time aside for reading
  • Read a variety of books
  • Join the conversation about the reading
  • Learning & implementing various ways to make the most of reading
  • Access to Time For Planning Forum

Selection 2018-1: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
Selection 2018-2: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

Join the TFP Book Club for reading and discussing books. TFP Book Club at Time For Planning


About Christina Davis

I have used various types of planners, inserts, and supplies over the past 26 years. I am also fascinated with personal development; specifically time management. Managing responsibilities and happiness (or contentment) are equally important. So naturally, I want to help you discover how to do the same! Contact Me and let me know how I can help you!

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