Out of This World Literacy : 3 Steps to Creating the BEST Reading Notebooks!
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3 Steps to Creating the BEST Reading Notebooks!

I've had so many teachers ask me about reader's notebooks and what are the best methods to set up and use them.  

These are the three BIG questions I get asked all the time!

Let's take a few minutes and walk through my best answers to each.

Not only will I answer these questions today, I am also offering some valuable FREE RESOURCES to support you as you work with reader's notebooks!

FIRST, here are a few reasons why notebooks are so awesome!


I've spent a ton of time trying out many different ways to set up my reader's notebooks over the years.

I wouldn't even argue with the fact that I became obsessed with finding the MOST COMPREHENSIVE and BEST PRACTICE strategies.

Because I was obsessed, I tried out lots of different set-ups until I finally discovered the best set-up ever!


SMART TIP:  If you don't have 3-subject notebooks, you can use a one-subject notebook, but it will likely only last half a year.  Simply shorten each section that I describe below.

SMART TIP: When you head out to purchase your tabs, be sure to grab the Post-It Durable Tabs. They will stick all year!


SMART TIP: Have students write in the title, author, genre, and date as they complete reading books independently.  They do not have to write down books that you read as a class or in a guided reading group.

SMART TIP: Use the FREE "Books I've Read" form for your reader's notebooks!


SMART TIP: Have students copy the mini lesson statement and only one example into their notebooks.  This keeps all their learning in one place for the whole year!!


SMART TIP:  Have students glue in graphic organizers they use to respond to their reading during independent reading time.

SMART TIP: Have students bring their notebooks to the share at the end of the reading workshop.  Ask them to share with a partner what they wrote in this section during independent reading today.


SMART TIP: Assign 3-4 students each day to turn in a letter about what they are reading.  This way you'll be answering only a few letters a day.

SMART TIP:  This is COMPLETELY worth your time!  Not only do the students LOVE to get their letters back from you, you are also teaching letter writing skills, AND getting more insight into how they are thinking as readers.  You can use what they put in their letters, and what the DON'T put in their letters, as data that will drive your instruction!

SMART TIP:  If a student struggles with letter writing or never turns in his/her letter on the scheduled date, simply switch the order around so that you are writing first and the student is responding to you.  Ask questions that will help the student respond.



MINI LESSON: Students copy mini lesson statement and one example into the "Mini Lessons" section.

INDEPENDENT READING: Students spend a few minutes responding to their reading in written form.  They can use a graphic organizer and glue it into their notebooks or write a response in the "Reading Responses" section.

THE SHARE: Students bring their notebooks to the share and talk about what they wrote in their notebooks during independent reading time.

Feel free to use this mini lesson to help you launch your notebooks.

SMART TIP: Create your own class set of routines and leave them up as an anchor chart.  OR, have students write the routines on the front cover of their notebooks.

SMART TIP: Get the FREE organizer to set up your notebook routines here.


I get this question all the time, so I have created some grading rubrics you can download for FREE below.


BOOKS I'VE READ: You can grade this section every few weeks to see if students are keeping up with their reading logs.  Collect all the notebooks every other week, or grade half the class one week and the other half the next week.  This can be a quick assessment!

MINI LESSONS: When you are checking the reading logs you can also quickly check this section every few weeks to ensure students are writing the class lessons and an example for each day.

READING RESPONSES: Grade 1-2 entries from this section each week so that you can keep track of how students are responding to their reading.

READING LETTERS: Grade the letters each time.  students will write a letter ever 2-3 weeks depending on how many you assign each day and your class size.  2-3 weeks is a great time span for letter writing.

SMART TIP:  Use the FREE grading rubrics for each section as your guide.

If you follow the steps and smart tips above you will have your reader's notebooks up and running or current notebooks improved in no time!  

Enjoy your notebooks!!  


  1. When you say 3 subject notebook, about how many pages. I was looking at 140, 200 and 250 pg notebooks today.

    1. Add up the numbers on the slides above and add or take away some pages to choose the notebook that works best for you. :)

  2. I tried to download the free notebook pages, but it would only go to 50% and stop loading.

    1. You can put in your email and they will be sent to you. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Grades 2-6 is what I recommend. If you use a workshop framework in middle school it's great for 7-8 grades as well!

  4. Do you offer the reader's notebook mini-lessons for the interactive notebook?

  5. Where can I find the WRITER'S notebook tab/page setup?

  6. Do you use these in your guided reading groups?