ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

English Composition Book Project Ideas: How to Use a Double Entry Journal

Updated on February 9, 2013

I taught high school English for a number of years before moving on to the university level, and I was always looking for different book projects that would keep students motivated and focused while reading. One project that I came to use with some frequency is a double entry journal.

What is the Purpose of a Double Entry Journal?

A double entry journal enables students to think and analyze a text at a higher level, and it gives each student an opportunity to express his/her own thoughts related to the reading. It allows students to become more involved with the book by giving them a sense of freedom over the analytical process— students are able to analyze what they deem important, what sparks their interest.

This type of freedom is perfect for honors, AP, and gifted classes that are particularly skilled at sniffing out significant passages, key symbols, or important themes. With that said, a double entry journal can be still be well suited for general classes as well. A teacher can provide additional structure (see below) so that students are guided in their responses.

How Does a Double Entry Journal Work?

The student will divide their papers into two sections with a vertical line down the center. On the left side, they will copy down short quotes (properly cited) from the book the class is reading that they find interesting in some way. In the right column, they will write their analytical literary response to the quote on the left.

Students should take care not to merely summarize the quote or tell the plot before or after the quote. Each analysis/discussion should contain at least one literary term.

For greater structure, the teacher can provide the quotes that are to be analyzed. Another idea is to structure the double entry journal around important symbols (which you can provide for them in the left hand column if you wish) and students can discuss their meaning in the right

What Should Students Write?

Students should write reactions/interpretations/analysis of to the quote they select. These reactions can include their own opinions, disagreements, interpretations, and events in their life that the quote reminds them of, comments about grammar, and guesses about the meaning of new words. In effect, students are talking back to the author or speaker as theywrite their responses.

It’s important to remember, however, that these responses should still be analytical in nature.

Double Entry Journal FAQs

I’ve shared this book project with teachers in the past and I’m always asked the same questions

FAQ 1: Can’t students just find random quotes, complete an analysis and then not read the book?

A: Of course they could. Just as they could find the answers to a study guide without reading the book. However, just as we can easily identify plagiarism, it’s very easy to notice, based on the depth of the responses, a student who has and has not read completed the reading.

FAQ 2: How many journal entries do you typical require?

A: It depends on the length of the book and on the class (be it AP or general), but 10 is usually the minimum.

FAQ 3: When do you assign the double entry journal book project? When is it due?

A: I always assign the double entry journal when students begin reading the book so that students can work on it as they read. I encourage students to keep journal (folded) in their book. (This is one of the few assignments I didn’t require to be typed). It was due upon completion of the novel.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)