________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 18 . . . . May 10, 2002

cover Response Journals Revisited: Maximizing Learning Through Reading, Writing, Viewing, Discussing, and Thinking.

Les Parsons.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2001.
119 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 1-55138-131-1.

Subject Headings:
School children-Diaries.
Creative writing (Middle school).
Reading (Middle school).


Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

** /4

Les Parsons believes that the "original confusion surrounding the introduction of journals has grown worse over the years." He describes a response journal as:

A notebook, folder, section of a binder, or electronic file in which students record their personal reactions to, questions about, and reflections on what they read, view, write, represent, observe, listen to, discuss, do, and think and how they go about reading, viewing, writing, representing, observing, listening, discussing, or doing; first used extensively in English/language arts programs; can be adapted to any unit of study in any subject area (p. 9).

Parsons's second book on response journals is divided into the following chapters:

What is so good about response journals?
Getting started with response journals
Responding in reading and literature programs
Responding to live and mass media
Developing discussion skills through response journals
Evaluating response journals
Putting response journals into a larger classroom context

     Parsons describes response journals, explains why and how to use response journals, identifies the multiple benefits associated with the use of response journals, and discusses evaluation issues associated with response journals. He explains how personal response can deepen and extend students' reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and representing experiences. The book contains numerous examples of student responses, several reproducible pages of guidelines and checklists for students and teachers, and a glossary of terms.

     Teachers will find this practical book very accessible. Parsons's reproducible checklists and guidelines can be revised and modified according to teachers' particular beliefs and needs.

     Support from the professional literature would have provided credibility and rigor to the ideas presented in the book. Although Parsons includes information about brain research, there is no discussion of reader-response theories, the theoretical foundation of response journals. Further, there is no reference to the substantial body of literature that has examined students' oral, written, and artistic responses to literature in elementary and high schools. Finally, a reference list of further professional reading would have been beneficial for readers.


Sylvia Pantaleo is an Assistant Professor of Language Arts in the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364