Modeling Reading Responses - The Character Map
I have an entire list of response suggestions outlined for the students in a book club packet that I hand out for their reading folders. Each day I model a different type of response for them, making sure I show them how to date their notebooks and write up the response.
For example, I one response I will model for them is the character map. To help children reflect on the central or secondary characters in the book, I show them how to map it out.
I write a character's name in the middle of the board and box it. I draw several lines from the central box and attach each line to a circle. After having read a section of the book, I tell the children that to help me think more about a character in the story, it helps to take some notes about what I have discovered about the character.
I tell them this response may prompt discussion among the group. What if someone in your group disagrees that a particular character is dishonest? What if another person in your group asks you to explain why you see a particular character as sneaky?
To put together a response that evokes rich discussion is partially the goal in writing a reading response. Of course, in the modeling, I'll ask children to help fill in the circles based on how they see a particular character, which keeps them all involved and entices discussion related to the contributions.
One of the other things I'm always reminding the children is that in a book group we are reading for enjoyment, yes, but we also are reading for discussion. It is similar to DEAR time because it is independent, but it should involve much more thoughtful reflection.
Children need to know that they read for different purposes so that they can separate silent sustained reading from the independent reading done as a member of a reading group or in their bed at night.