Monday, January 22, 2024

Writing a Reading Response Essay: A Free Workbook for 6th Graders

Writing a Reading Response Essay:
 A Free Workbook for 6th Graders

 Writing a reading response essay can be a really daunting task for middle schoolers. At this age, most kids are just beginning to grasp the hidden meanings behind stories and books, the implied things in a story that are so much more obvious to us as adults who have experienced so much more.

So when I discovered that my daughter would need to write a reading response essay in an exam this year, I got to work doing my best research on how best to approach such a big topic with such young students. 

And what did the research point to?

Be short and to the point!

I came up with the idea of making a workbook of sorts for kids - but there are no busywork pages in here - the only thing they'll be writing are notes and their essays. They can just go at their own pace.

This could also be done as a class, a homework assignment over a few days, or a homeschool resource (as we will use it!)

The language in here is simple and easy for kids to follow - it encourages them to look at the themes, tone and mood of a story plus make connections and give their opinions on that story. If your learners don't know what any of this means - don't worry!

Every page and topic is filled with explanations and even sentence stems to use in their essays!

The workbook first uses the classic short story by Hans Christian Andersen called 'The Fir Tree'. It's a story that I find perfect for this unit as it's quite short - students can even have the webpage provided read it for them - and it has great theme, literary devices, and a definite tone to it.

Students will begin by reading a short page about what a reading response essay is and what will be expected of them in the essay. In this particular unit, I've included these topics:

  • Thesis statement / topic sentence
  • Theme
  • Connections
  • Mood, Tone, literary Devices
  • Opinions and Conclusion
Next, they'll listen to or read the story while taking notes about each topic (on a special notetaking page in the workbook)

Finally, they'll get to work writing their essays and putting everything they learn on each new page together. 

Although this unit starts with the included short story, it can be used with any story. I've even included links to other great free short story websites. It could, however, be used with a longer novel as well.

I also made a handy checklist that kids can use as a reference while writing future reading response essays.

You can download this free unit by clicking on the link below.
All I ask is that when sharing this unit you leave my website name on each page, and if you're showing it to someone online, to refer them to this blog (
Thank you! Enjoy Learning!