Summer Reading Journals and Writing Activities

Free printable and ideas to help kids learn to write about the books they read during the summer.

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HEREto find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives…and keep checking back for more!

Writing exercises for your kids to do along with their summer reading.

Part of our summer reading is writing. We want to keep those minds sharp during the summer, and writing is one way to stave off the summer learning loss. (So is math, by the way, but I’m not nearly as passionate about having them do their math workbooks, though they all have them.)

I have used little writing prompt sheets in the past—the type that have a prompt (“If I were an animal, I would be…”), a place to draw a picture, and lines to write on. You can find the type I’m talking about here: Story Starters for Grades 1-3.

I love the story starter writing prompts, but my older girls are starting to grow out of them. Instead, I’m going to have them keep reading journals this summer.

Make cute summer reading journals for your children to write about the books they are reading this summer.

1. Write a book report/synopsis.

Upon completing each book, I would like each girl to write about it.

I found a great pin on Pinterest with an easy formula for writing a book synopsis. (Unfortunately, said pin goes to a broken link, but I do know it comes from the blog Runde’s Room.)

I made my own version of the formula, and I glued it into the inside cover of the reading journals I made for my girls.

They are just simple composition notebooks that you can purchase anywhere, though they are a little cuter than the standard black and white versions I grew up with. Some super cute options include these polka dot composition books and these composition books with fun designs.

My middle daughter also loves to draw pictures about the book she just read and commonly does this along with any writing she does. Art is also an excellent way to solidify learning and keep those minds sharp!

Help your children write awesome book reports with this easy guide.

To download:

Enter your email in the form at the bottom of this post and the printable will be sent directly to your inbox.

2. Keep a vocabulary list

Whenever my children are reading, they are also learning new vocabulary.

Sometimes they are learning it without realizing it, but they often ask me what certain words mean (or how to pronounce them). This is a great opportunity for them to take the initiative to look up unfamiliar words in the dictionary and write down the definitions.

The first exposure to a new vocabulary word doesn’t generally “stick,” so as a parent I try to find ways to help them use the word in their everyday language. My favorite is to play a game with them and see who can use it in actual communication ten times that day. Make it fun!

3. Keep track of the books they’ve finished

I’m encouraging my girls to write down the titles and authors of the books as they finish them.

They could have a special section in their notebook to do this, or they can just do it journal style. Whatever works for them! It’s also fun to keep track of how many actual pages you read, since that can vary wildly from book to book!

My girls will also be filling one of these out every time they finished, so they can earn a special reward at the end of the summer. (For this printable and other ideas on summer reading motivation and incentives, click here: How To Keep Your Kids Motivated to Read This Summer.)

4. Write down quotes and questions

One of the reasons I love my Kindle so very much is because I can easily highlight favorite passages and find them again. But before I ever heard of e-books, I was keeping a book journal where I wrote my favorite quotes from the book by hand. I am encouraging my children to do the same.

I also encourage them to write down any questions that pop into their minds while they’re reading. Many of those questions will, of course, be resolved later on in the story, but it’s fun to keep track of what you wondered about. It also helps in future discussions about the book for say, a book club.

Make cute summer reading journals as a companion to your kids' summer reading.

These are just a few ideas for reading journals. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of many more! The main idea is to get them thinking about the book, and then writing about it. I also like to keep a conversation going all the time about the books they are reading, and constantly ask them questions like:

  • “What did you read about today?”
  • “What is happening in the story now?”
  • “Who is your favorite character?”
  • “What do you think/hope will happen next?”
  • “What made you laugh in your book today?”
  • “What made you sad in your book today?”

The reading journals were the final addition to the girls’ summer reading bins. Only a couple more days of school and I think I’m finally ready for summer! (To see what books are in our bins this summer, click here: Summer 2014 Reading Lists.)

Fill a bin with books, a reading journal, and a way to motivate your children to read this summer.

Here’s to raising readers! And writers!

How do you encourage your children to read and write over the summer?

More Summer Reading at Overstuffed:

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

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Great ideas for summer!

Pebbles Jacobo

LOVE your summer reading ideas! I will be seeing my nephew and niece soon and they LOVE to read. Now I know what I'm going to take them to encourage that reading habit! Awesome ideas.


Love, love, love this! My kids have to read 1000 minutes for a prize at school, and they are doing the library summer reading. These are perfect complements!


Love these ideas – now to sell them to the "I don't need to read this summer" kiddo here….


My kids have to be bribed, for lack of a better word, but they're always glad they do it and they do love it. 🙂


I was thinking I would do this myself this summer, too. It's been a long time since I diligently kept a book journal!

Seashells Andswings

I'm a new blogger and am currently working on a summer reading post. I was hoping to get your permission to use one of your images in my post. The image of course would like back your site and this post. Thanks!


No problem at all! I'd love a link when you're finished. Thanks!

Seashells Andswings

The post is up with your awesome links. Check it out if you like: