Response to Literature: Expressing Ideas

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12327

Have you ever been challenged about something you have said? Has someone doubted you and said, "Prove it?" It is always a good idea to have facts to back up your opinions, so learn how to get them!


Comprehension, Writing

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

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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A good lawyer must have facts to prove his or her client is innocent. The judge can't just take their word for it. A scientist must prove his theory is correct by presenting facts from his or her research. It is not safe to just take a doctor's word that a medicine will work for you; there must be proof. When you give an opinion of something you've read, you must back it up with facts, too!

When you share your opinion about how a piece of literature makes you feel, or your opinion about a literary piece in general (whether or not you enjoyed your reading experience), you are responding to literature.

Before you continue, you may have missed, or feel the need to review, the previous Related Lessons in our Response to Literature series, found in the right-hand sidebar.

This type of essay is organized in a specific way, usually beginning with a summary of the plot, or story line, followed by an opinion of some aspect of the story and evidence from the text to support that opinion.

What is evidence? Text evidence is part of the text or story that helps support or prove your opinion. Just like a detective who is searching for evidence against a suspect in a crime investigation, you need to search the text for evidence to prove that your ideas and opinions are valid.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch Elements in a Written Response to Literature by Mometrix Academy, take notes on the different types of connections a reader can make with a piece of literature, and how to use evidence from the text to support and add relevance to those connections:

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When you write your response to literature essay, you want to show your reader that you understand the topic and what the author is trying to convey. You also want your reader to take interest in your point of view and, ultimately, agree with your opinion. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as stating your ideas and having your audience automatically agree with you. Your audience will make a decision based on the text evidence you provide and the way you present that evidence. When you find information in the text that supports your opinion, write down enough of the quotation so it makes sense to your reader, and provide the page number where you found it.

There are many sentence starters you can use to introduce a quotation from the text that you are using to support your idea. Some common evidence introductions include:

  • The text said …
  • On page _____ it said …
  • The author wrote / says / states …
  • I think this because …
  • According to the text …
  • (Character's name) says ...
  • When (Character) … (action) ...

When you use a sentence starter, you may either summarize what the text says (this means you do not copy it word-for-word), or you may use a direct quotation from the text to back up your claim. When you use a direct quotation, you copy the text word–for-word from the book, enclosed in quotation marks. You then write the author's last name and the page number of the book on which the quotation appears in parenthesis. Put the period after the closed parenthesis. Here is an example:

“She took a firm hold on her egg, waited until everyone at her table was watching, and whack — she found herself with a hand full of crumbled shell and something cool and slimy running down her face” (Cleary 60).

In the example above, the student uses a quotation from "Ramona Quimby, Age 8" to prove the idea that Ramona often finds herself in awkward predicaments. This quotation is from the part in the book where Ramona is at lunch. She thinks she has a boiled egg in her lunch, but she is wrong. What she had hoped would make her look cool turned into an embarrassing situation. The student lists the author’s last name and the page on which the quotation is found in parentheses. Using evidence in this way can help you support your opinion about the book or an aspect of the book, such as a character.

Before you continue to the Got It? section, discuss with your teacher or parent what evidence is and how you can include that in your writing to support your opinion.

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