Reader Response is an active reading strategy in which students interact with
the text to construct meaning. Through written responses that compel readers
to explore, question, and challenge text, students express their individual
understandings and make their thinking visible. When responding, students are
also encouraged to reflect on what they bring to the text as readers, such as
experiences, knowledge, emotions, and concerns. Students may choose from a
set of sentence starters to begin their journals or simply “freewrite” about their
thoughts during or after reading. In addition to developing students’ thinking
skills, Reader Response prepares students to participate in small and large group
discussions that take place after reading.


  1. Ask readers to respond to a text in writing and make clear how this kind of response differs from writing a summary of what was read.
  2. Provide models of different ways students may choose to respond. Suggested sentence starters for Reader Response include:
    • Reading this text made me think about…
    • The most important idea in the text for me was _____ because…
    • I was surprised by ______ because…
    • This piece helped me understand ______ .
    • I agree (do not agree) with _____ because…
    • I want to know more about _____ because…
    • Describe the structure of your text. Why do you think the author chose this structure? How does it contribute to the meaning?
    • What are the author’s claims or major ideas in the text? How do you know?
    • What is the central idea in your text and how do specific details contribute to that main idea?
  1. Give students the opportunity to share their responses with others through
    Academic Dialogue, perhaps using a strategy such as Block Party.



  • What did you have to consider in order to respond to this text?
  • How was your thinking different from your sharing partner?
  • What connections did you make with what you read?
  • Keep in mind that “text” is defined differently in different content areas. Teachers can use pictures, diagrams, music, videos, etc., to elicit the same type of responses.
  • The suggested sentence starters can be used with many strategies from the various literacy subdomains.
  • Sentence Starts may be designed around content standards (see examples G, H and I in the Process steps).
  • Ask students to travel to their group with their writing in hand, for reference, as they engage in discussion with classmates.



Students make connections between an historical event and current events.


Students respond to and describe the emotions created when looking at a painting or listening to a selection of music.


Students in an Animal Science class respond to the most important factors when judging dairy cows.


Students make predictions about the results of an experiment and share with partners.