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My Every-Week-a-Book Journal, record keeping for reading Review by Melanie Reynolds

Kathryn Ross
Pageant Wagon Publishing
856 205-9334
New Jersey
https://www.pageantwagonpublishing.com

In your homeschool, how do you keep track of what your students have read, and how they have learned from their literature? What if you had a beautiful, consumable companion journal for your children to record their thoughts, knowledge, and understanding of the books they have read? My Every-Week-a-Book Journal is an 8 ½” x 11” softcover consumable journal, ideal for your students’ reading experiences, available for purchase at www.pageantwagonpublishing.com for $16.99. This 226-page journal allows readers to fully explore in writing, drawing, and artwork, the richness of 26 books, with students generally expected to read a book every week (or every two weeks). You and your family will choose and provide the books your student will read; the My Every-Week-a-Book Journal provides the place to record the books and experiences. 

My Every-Week-a-Book Journal is designed for students in grades 6-12. This book’s cover beckons the reader to enter the world of books, featuring a soft full-color photograph of a young woman in an old-fashioned dress enjoying an open book. Inside, the pages are all black and white. The journal begins with a friendly guide for parents on the importance of family read-alouds and personal reading, and why reading is so crucial for the growth of literacy, compassion, faith, family togetherness, worldview, and imagination. Next, Kathryn Ross provides a clear outline of how My Every-Week-a-Book Journal canbe used. For each book, the student will focus on and complete: one character quality; a literacy quote; a book report; a vocabulary words list; character sketches; creative writing; and story illustrations. In addition, additional projects can be designed for impactful or deeply-loved books (such as art projects, playwriting, field trips, music/dance, etc.) Each of these activities can be completed as books are read, and will, for the most part, be completed independently by the student/reader.

Activities range from the very practical to the very creative. Students learn to spot and define themes, protagonists/antagonists, book types, and settings. They write a plot summary. Handy charts create spaces for vocabulary words and definitions as well as character sketches. Then, they begin to personalize their experiences. What were their favorite quotes? What are Scriptures which relate to the book’s themes and meaning? Creative writing (even poems!) based on a book or its characters can be written on one page. On another, students can design a collage or illustrate scenes. I love how all of these activities enrich the learning process and engage the readers, encouraging them to go much deeper than they would by just writing essays or answering questions. Here, they will really begin to own each book and the entire reading experience, and they will remember it forever.

The style of My Every-Week-a-Book Journal is reminiscent to me of the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, where learning itself is made to be a beautiful experience that brings joy, life, and character to the student. This journal system elevates reading above a simple daily assignment of pages read or vocabulary memorized. Instead, it combines these with activities that enable the reader to dive deep into the beauty of learning, into the characters’ experiences, of the author’s meaning and design, and the creativity all of these can produce in the reader. There is something about this book as well that makes the reader want to read good books. All the writing spaces and pages seem to beg for beautiful things to be put down upon them.

My Every-Week-a-Book Journal is the perfect tool for middle school and high school students to use alongside their reading. It’s perfectly designed for homeschool learning but would also benefit public or private school learners. It creates a body of work for the student, if worked on faithfully each week, that marks and records the important lessons learned in literature over the course of a year in a sort of portfolio. I have to admit, however, that it is also beautifully suited to adult readers. I reviewed this journal for my own use. And I do read voraciously myself, completing several books per week. However, I have noticed recently that I do not even remember all the books I read in a year. What a lovely companion journal this has been for me to implement with my reading! It has inspired me to stop, to look, to question, and to record the things I’m learning and enjoying in my reading, to create artful things born out of book time, and to remember the lovely and the beautiful.

Author Kathryn Ross is obviously a great lover of books and quite an effective teacher as well. The literary quotes she includes in each chapter are comprised of beautiful words and thoughts that the student can reflect on and internalize, from the world’s great authors. But a student doesn’t have to be a literature lover to use this journal well. She will, however, be able to grow in her appreciation of literature, in her critical thinking skills, in her creativity, and perhaps in her love for the written word as she reads and writes. I cannot think of a better companion for a year’s worth of reading than My Every-Week-a-Book Journal.

-Product review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2019

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