Response to Literature: Introduction Part I

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12325

When you read a book, you will have some kind of reaction to it. As you progress in school, you will read and critique books. You may even relate to a character in a story! Learn to read and respond!


Comprehension, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Unless someone like you

Cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get

Better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

What does that passage mean to you? It means something. Can you relate to it and write about it?

The purpose of writing a response to literature is to state an opinion about a character’s traits, the setting, plot, theme, or moral of the story.

Many times, you will organize your essay by giving a short summary of the story, then give an opinion that is supported by evidence from the text. Next, you will make any personal connections you have with the text, and share any feelings brought about through your reading. You can also compare one book to other books written by the same author, or in the same genre. Finally, you will restate your thoughts and opinions about the book.

  1. The first thing you need to do when writing a response to literature is select a book. You can do this by taking a piece of paper and creating a quick T chart to list books you have read, along with the author’s name.
  2. Then, look over your list to see which book really stands out to you. Which one did you really enjoy reading? This is the book you want to write about. Make sure you have a copy of the book with you when you are writing so you can get the evidence you need to support your paper.
  3. The next thing you want to do is make a list of the main characters. After each character, make a short list of the things that stood out to you about that character.
  4. Describe how, if at all, you relate to the main character.
  • Do you have a similar character trait or habit?
  • Is there something the character does that reminds you of a similar situation in your own life?
  1. Once you spend some time thinking about the characters, you'll want to create a timeline of main events in the story. The timeline will help you recall the sequence of events when you summarize your story.
  2. You can list events on paper or you can use boxes to draw the main scenes and write brief notes so you do not forget what is taking place in the scene.
  3. Number the boxes to keep the story in the correct order.

In your introductory paragraph, you will include the title of your book and the author’s name. You will also give a quick summary of the book and your opinion about the character’s traits, setting, plot, theme, or moral of the story. You do not have to give your opinion on each of those things; just choose the one you feel strongly about.

Now, you are ready for the body of the paper. In the first body paragraph, you will use the timeline you created to tell the main events of the story. In the second paragraph, you will discuss the character’s strongest trait and support it with an example or two from the book. If you have another point you wish to make about the book, you can include a third paragraph to address it.

Finally, you will write your ending paragraph. This is where you tell why you like (or dislike) the book. You can also include information that answers these questions:

  1. How am I like or different from the main character?
  2. What did I learn from the story?
  3. Why is this a good book?

There are many reasons to write a literary response.

  • First, it gives you a way to show a deeper knowledge of what you have read. It is more than just being able to tell what the book is about — it also allows you the opportunity to express your opinion or idea on the writer's message.
  • You may also express your overall impressions about a piece of literature and share any personal connections you had with the piece. For example, if you have had a similar experience as the main character, explain how it made you feel and try to identify with the character.

Before you continue to the Got It? section, discuss these questions with your teacher or parent:

  1. What is the purpose of a response to literature?
  2. What do you include in the introductory paragraph?
  3. What do you include in the body paragraphs?
  4. What do you write in the conclusion?

Go on to the Got It? section, where you will review another student’s response to literature.

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