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Response to Literature

Almost any book, story, novel, or poem can take you to a different dimension. Yet some grab you from the beginning, while others leave you cold. What makes the difference? After reading a book or story, you probably express your own thumbs-up or thumps-down opinion. But have you ever tried writing your response for that work after reading it? Writing about your reading helps you explore your thoughts about a book. It allows you to respond to a text on a personal level-to agree with it, question it, and study it.
As a student of any language, one will naturally go through the literary works prevailing in that particular language. Everyone agrees that literature naturally stirs up thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Everyone has his/her own tastes. While you may enjoy fiction and fantasy, the other person may enjoy modern dramas. One of the best ways to share your personal taste in literature is to write a response to the books or stories you read.

Let us study in detail what response to literature is.

A response to literature can be explained as one of the compositions that shows the reader’s understanding and analyses of the theme, plot, characters, or other aspects of a chapter, story, book, a poem, or a movie. Remember it does not include the summarization of the chosen literary work. Instead, you express your thoughts and feelings about the books, short story, play, or essay. This kind of writing helps you strengthen or clarify your thinking about your reading.


What is a Response to Literature

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Whenever and whatever you read, you have a response. You may like or dislike a character, think the article is boring, or disagree with a point made by the writer. Sometimes, particularly in school, you are asked to explain your response, to provide support for it. In order to do that, you need to think critically about your response and look back in the text to identify the details and facts that led you to draw a conclusion or form an opinion.

Drawing Conclusions:

You understand certain things as you read even if they are not stated directly. As you read, you pick up clues, connect them to other things you have read and experienced, and then draw conclusions. For example, the clues in a short story may help you conclude that the main character is unhappy.

Forming and Supporting Opinions:

An opinion expresses a personal belief, attitude, or point of view. It cannot be proved right or wrong. Because opinions are based on personal experiences, it is easy to see how people can have different opinions on the same subject. 
Follow the process explained below to develop your own response to literature.

I. Prewriting

Choosing a Story/Book:

Choose a story or a book that made a strong impression on you-even if it was a negative one. When you have a definite opinions and strong feelings about something, it’s usually easier to write about it.

Explore the ideas:

Once you choose a story or a book, jot down notes on the elements that made the strongest impression on you.

  • Is the plot clever? Believable? Suspenseful?
  • How are the characters developed? Do they seem true to life? Why or why not?
  • How does the author establish the story’s setting?

Consider your purpose and audience:

Your audience may be younger children, older people, or mixed group. Your purpose is to evaluate some element of story or novel or book and to explain and support your evaluation. Include examples or quotations to back up each point you make.

Use Reader’s Log:

Before, during, and after reading, a Reader’s Log can be an invaluable tool in which you explore your responses to literature. Here are some strategies that you may find helpful.

1. Story Mapping
2. Venn Diagram
3. KWL Chart
4. Clustering
5. Brainstorming

Make a plan:

Review your prewriting notes, and circle the element of the story that most intrigues you. Develop a thesis-a one or two-sentence statement that sums up your opinion on this element. Then plan your response using the basic structure of introduction, body, and conclusion. Write notes on how you will develop each section.

II. Drafting

Begin at the beginning

In your introductory paragraph, catch your readers’ attention with a surprising quotation from the book, or with an intriguing statement about it. Then, briefly tell what the story is about. Identify the element of the story that will be your focus. End with your thesis statement.

Support Your Opinion

Whether you respond with your mind or with your emotions, you need to support your responses by going back to the text itself. Make sure you provide details from the author’s work to back up your thoughts and feelings. Look for specific descriptions and information. Back up your statements with examples or quotations.


As you revise, cross out phrases like “I think that,” “It seems to me that,” or “It appears to be true that.” Your readers know that you are sharing your opinions, so just go ahead and state them. 


Proofread your response to correct errors in grammar and mechanics, usage, and spelling.

Response to Literature Format

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In order to understand the story, you need to identify all of the elements of literature used by the author.
  • Identify the literary devices like simile, metaphor, image, alliteration, assonance, etc employed in the work, 
  • Look for the elements like setting, foreshadowing, or flashback that stimulated your imagination.
  • Consider themes that make you think about your own life.
  • Comment on the characters and the sequence of events that contribute to the development of the plot, etc.

Response to Literature Template

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  • Give an apt title for the paper; never use the same title of the book.
  • Begin with a hook or attention grabbing sentence
  • Include the title of the book and the name of the author.
  • Write a quick and concise summary of the story in the introductory paragraph.
  • Include a clear thesis statement in the introduction

Body Paragraphs:
  •  Have a balanced approach between the personal and critical aspect of the essay.
  • Make sure that each body paragraph has focused theme, so use topic sentence and try to relate each example back to that topic. 
  • Use transitions between paragraphs and examples to ensure a smooth flow of ideas.
  • Avoid using more "I" statements and generalized statements.

Proof Reading:
  • Always proof read your paper before submission. 
  • Eliminate awkward and ambiguous sentences that interrupt the flow.
  • Show effective word choice throughout your analysis.
  • Check your sentences for proper subject-verb agreement, placement of modifiers etc.
  • Demonstrate appropriate sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
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