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10 Creative Reading Response Activity Ideas to Ignite Classroom Engagement

Try some of these 10 reading response activity ideas you can use in your classroom next time your students read.

It can be difficult to develop an engaging reading response activity that your students will enjoy working on. However, the right reading response activity can keep classroom engagement high and foster a genuine connection with class novels.  

This month, I’ve teamed up with Melissa from Straight Outta Class to share 10 reading response activity ideas you can use in your classroom next time your students read. These activities go beyond your traditional book summary or comprehension questions. They require students to think critically about the texts they’ve read and demonstrate their thinking. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore ten dynamic and innovative reading response activity ideas for middle school ELA classrooms. 

10 Creative Reading Response Activity Ideas to Ignite Classroom Engagement

Encourage your students to delve deeper into their reading with an engaging reading response activity, such as creating a character playlist, book flatlay photography, acrostic poems, book unboxing videos, book bingo, reading journals, character text message exchanges, book talks, podcast interviews, or even crafting digital escape rooms. 

So, let’s dive in and discover how these ten creative reading response activity ideas can transform your classroom into a vibrant hub of literary exploration and engagement.

Character Playlist (Melissa)

Your students will love the challenge of creating a song playlist for a book character from the class novel or independent reading. First, students choose a character and then figure out what makes that character special by listing their personality traits and experiences. After that, students select songs they believe best represent the character and finish up by writing a brief explanation for each song choice. Looking for character analysis activity ideas? Download this free resource. 

Book Flatlay (Kristy)

A book flatlay involves a photography technique frequently used on social media platforms to present books attractively. In this context, “flatlay” signifies the arrangement and capture of objects from an overhead viewpoint, with the camera directly positioned above them.

Students would select several items representing events or themes from their novel and arrange them aesthetically around the book, then take the overhead photo.  Students must then justify their item choice and explain how it represents the story. Read more about this reading response activity: Upgrading The Book Report: Try a Book Flatlay Project.

Acrostic Poems (Melissa)

Don’t forget to include poetry as an option for a reading response activity. To begin, students select a theme from their reading. Using the letters that spell out the theme word, have them create an acrostic poem that relates to the reading adding as much text evidence as possible. Here is an example of an acrostic poem using the theme “hope” from the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

Holding on to memories and dreams

Overcoming massive odds

Pushed to his limits

Everything works out brilliantly for Brian in the end

Want to know more about using poetry with reading? Check out the blog post, Why Students Should Be Writing Poetry.

Book Unboxing (Kristy)

Another great reading response activity is book unboxing. You have probably seen unboxing videos on various social media platforms. For this activity, students can “unbox” their novel and other novels they have curated (similar themes, authors, topics, etc), or they can unbox their novel and items that represent the novel. They then explain on camera how the books or objects are related to the original novel. 

The essence of unboxing videos lies in persuading viewers to invest in the showcased products, and this assignment aligns perfectly with that concept. Students will effectively market their books to the class, providing insights into each book’s contents and compelling reasons why others should read them. Want to learn more about this reading response activity? Check out this blog post: Get Students Excited About Reading

Book Bingo (Melissa)

A bingo board with literary elements, themes, or events related to the book or reading is another reading response activity perfect for your middle school ELA classroom. It’s a simple concept with little prep on your part. Issue each student a book bingo card. As students read, they mark off items on their cards, promoting engagement and comprehension. Once a student achieves a BINGO, they earn a simple reward of your choice. Grab editable bingo boards here.


Reading Journal (Kristy)

A reading journal is a great way for students to share their thoughts and feelings about their reading. However, it is important to add variety to the experience so that students do not respond to the same writing prompt each time they journal. 

Students can also be encouraged to create sketchnotes in their journals as well. Learn more about using reading journals as a reading response activity: 8 Fun Reading Log Alternatives. Students can use their reading journals to complete this free Read It/Read This Book Review template to share their book choices with their peers.

Character Text Messages (Melissa)

This activity not only promotes a better understanding of characters but it also encourages creativity. Students should have some knowledge of the character’s personality before they begin. I like to give my students a list of scenarios to use when writing the text messages. 

Some examples might include: a series of text messages to a friend in which the character reveals a secret; a series of text messages to a family member where the character shares a dilemma or difficulty in making a choice; or messages to a friend about a new adventure or opportunity. 

Book Talks (Kristy)

Books talks require students to sell their books to their classmates. In this reading response activity, students need to prepare an oral presentation explaining why another student would want to read their book. Have students get creative with these presentations—tell them they cannot just create a Google Slides presentation and read off the screen. They need to bring their “book to life.”  

Students could come as news anchors and share breaking news from a scene in the novel. They could also come as bookstore employees and share why the book is a best seller in the store. Give students the space to be creative and see what they can come up with. 

If you want to maintain interest in reading after these presentations, check out why pre-made book talks might be right for your classroom. 

Podcast Interview (Melissa)

Podcasts have become a popular media option in many classrooms. For this reading response activity, students conduct a mock podcast interview with a character from their book. They will develop 10 interview questions and responses based on what they know about the character’s motivations and life experiences throughout the reading. You can have students partner up to simulate an actual interview. The easiest way to record the podcast is on the individual student Chromebook using the screen audio recorder.

Escape Room (Kristy)

I love using digital escape rooms with my students, and they make a great reading response activity. Have students play this Movie Night Digital Escape Room. Then, they can work in groups to create a print or digital escape room based on the novel they have read. Once these escape rooms are completed, students can share them with the class to play. Students can base the challenges in their escape rooms on real characters or events from their novels. 

These reading response activity ideas foster comprehension, creativity, critical thinking, and presentation skills. Explore these dynamic approaches to literary analysis and response, enriching your classroom experience while promoting a love for reading.

About The Authors

Melissa has been a middle school ELA teacher for over 29 years and now shares teaching tips, ideas, and resources in a weekly cheat sheet at Straight Outta Class. She also sells print and digital middle school resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. When she’s not creating materials for busy teachers, you’ll find her travelling and exploring new places around the world and spending time with her family. 

Kristy has taught ELA and other subjects to middle school students for over 17 years in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada. She is guilty of always having a book in her hand – even at the dinner table! She shares teaching content on her website, 2 Peas and a Dog, and sells middle school education resources on Teachers Pay Teachers or Shopify.

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