English 207: World Folktales and Literature
Reading Journal Requirements: Spring 2006    

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Ferrum College

Folktales and Literature Course Home Page

Purposes of Reading Journal:

• The journal provides an informal opportunity to record personal impressions and reactions to the course readings, as well as to develop your ability to consider and try out a variety of analytical or critical approaches to folktales and literature. By using e-mail, you will be able to exchange ideas with others who have read the same literature.

• Occasionally, the whole class will be assigned to write a journal entry with a common focus in preparation for a particular class period. For other journal entries you can use any of the suggestions below. The first required entry for 1/19 is on the assignments page, linked to the class schedule.

• Use the journal to record or respond to any extra reading you do, conversations you have with children or adults about literature, observations you make about the importance of folk literature in the mass media or popular culture, articles or cartoons you find about folktales or literature, etc. Any study guides provided for this class or optional readings might provide ideas for journal entries you choose to write (see below for additional suggestions).

• You may use the journal to make up sample lesson plans or create or try out exercises of any kind that involve responding to folktales and literature, or make other notes about literature that will be useful to you if you are planning to be a teacher. You could use part of the journal to store copies of teaching activities that you collect this semester, and make notes on them.

• If you contribute any bibliography entries (annotated or not), annotated internet links, study guides, lesson plans, author or illustrator pages, or creative writing to one of Dr. Hanlon's web sites (AppLit and Dragons in Children's Literature), that can count as part of your journal writing (if it is not part of a formal project you are doing for this class). If you want to send a contribution to someone else's web site on folktales or literature, that can count, too, if you send me a copy.

• If you attend cultural events on or off campus that are not directly related to our class, you may write about them in your journal, as long as you also fulfill the other requirements outlined here.

Relation to formal writing assignments.  The journal may be used to brainstorm and try ideas for your project and formal papers, and record your progress on researching or developing those assignments.  Your third paper assignment may consist of pages from your journal that you have selected and edited.  The grades on the journal, the third writing assignment, and class participation will be combined to determine 20% of your course grade.


• Journal entries may be typed or handwritten (as long as they are legible), or sent through e-mail, or some combination of these methods. Date each entry. (That is done automatically in e-mail.)

• If it's on paper, turn in your journal in any kind of folder except big, bulky ones with large rings. Use a format that allows you to keep writing while I have your previous journal entries over the weekend. When you submit journal entries by e-mail, keep copies and a list of e-mail messages you sent and the dates (or keep printouts of what you wrote in e-mail, if you wish).

• The minimal requirement is that you submit the equivalent of about two typed pages, or 5 to 6 paragraphs, every other week (7 times during the semester).  If you have urgent demands on your time at some point in the semester you could skip two weeks in a row once and still receive an A or A- on the journal, but don’t let yourself get too far behind and be sure you are normally turning it in or sending e-mail entries at least every other week. The journal must be turned in three times before midterm and a total of seven times by the end of the semester.

• The journal should include comments on a variety of assigned readings through the semester. You may want to write very brief comments about some of the readings, and write in more depth about one issue or work that interests you at another time. As a minimum, the journal must contain substantial entries on at least ten of the required readings we study throughout the term, including all the full-length novels and drama(s). You must also discuss at least two films, one picture book version of a folktale, and your responses to one oral telling of a folktale.

• Include a combination of comments on assigned readings before they are discussed in class, and some later responses to points made in class discussion or in an e-mail group. (You don’t have to do both every time.)

• Most entries should be in complete sentences and paragraphs.  For special purposes you can also use fragments and lists, or any format that lends itself to trying out different kinds of exercises.

Journal grades will be based on quantity, fulfillment of these minimal requirements, variety and thoughtfulness of responses, but not on formal writing skills, and they will not be marked for mechanical errors, unless you make a special request that you want me to correct errors or comment on other writing skills you are working on improving. At the end of the semester I will need to review your complete journal to determine the grade based on these requirements.


Throughout the term experiment with different kinds of exercises and focus on those that you find most helpful. When you turn in your journal, be sure it is clearly marked with your name, the dates of entries, and the author (if any) and title of the work(s) you are responding to.

1. Write out answers to any study questions you have on assigned work. If you can think of other study questions of your own, record them and write a brief answer. Or apply sections from the Guidelines for Reading and Analyzing Literature to particular assigned works, or a point from the Guidelines for Teaching with Folk Tales, . . . and Other Short Works of Folklore.

2. Make a "double-entry" response table by using the left half of the page to copy words, phrases or passages from the text that attract your attention while you read. On the right side write down your responses to those parts of the reading—anything at all that pops into your head. Don't take time to stop and think about what would look good, but if some part of the text reminds you of something else, or makes you think more deeply about some issue, write down whatever you are thinking. Or make a triple- or quadruple-entry table by creating more columns to compare one work with others you have read, or make up your own column headings for different types of responses.

Example of a double-entry notebook page on part of Clark's short story, "The Portable Phonograph"

Attention-getting words
My responses
"threats," "mute,"

"torment," "violence"

tanks, "the scars of gigantic bombs, their rawness already made a little natural by
rain, seed, and time"

"no structure . . . geese fled south"

"vacancy" howls
"the owner of the cell"
"rewrapping . . four fine leather-bound books"

"like a prehistoric priest"
"sharpness of selfish satisfaction"
Shakespeare, Bible, Moby Dick, Div. Comedy

"You will have a little soul left until
you die"

Landscape desolate, empty

Must be about painful stuff

Landscape after a huge war
(published 1941—not nuclear war)

No civilization?

Earth renewing itself or not?
Why the word "cells"?
Are these the only men alive?

these books are important to the old man
Why did he save these books?
He worships them?
maybe all he has left after war

Theme of spiritual needs after holocaust
They don't expect to live long.

3. To record your own reactions and questions, complete any of the following sentences as you read, or after you read, a text.

I noticed that . . . I'd like to know . . .
I don't understand . . . I realized . . .
I'm surprised that . . . I'm not sure . . .
This reminds me of . . . If I were . . .
I began to think of . . . One consequence of . . .
I wonder . . . If . . . then . . .
This is related to _________ contemporary issue because . . .  

4. Analyze the relationship between text and illustrations in an illustrated folktale. For some suggestions, see Study Guide for Nursery Rhymes and Picture Books or Assignments and Study Guide on Contemporary American Picture Books.

5. To identify and grapple with ideas in a text and to see relationships between different ideas, write your own dialogue or conversation:

a. Between the authors or tellers or illustrators of several texts or tales
b. Between the characters in several texts
c. Between the reader and the author or illustrator, or between the storyteller and the listener
d. Between the reader and a character or narrator within the text
e. Between the author and a character or several characters
f. Between you and/or someone you know and the author or characters
(Try this in response to debates among class members and/or the professor, or use the reactions of someone else you discuss the work with.)

6. Keep a list of puzzling vocabulary words and phrases from the text you are reading. Write down definitions and make any notes that will help you understand and remember those words and their significance. For older words, foreign words, and other phrases that may be hard to find in a desk dictionary, try the Oxford English Dictionary (which gives the complete history of words with quotations from writings showing how they were used in different eras--available online through our library) or other special dictionaries in the library (such as dialect dictionaries). Credit will be given for no more than one full page of vocabulary work, although you may want to continue your list for yourself if you find it useful.

7. Tell a story to the class, or memorize a short poem (at least 10 lines) or a passage from a text we are studying and recite it to the class. Arrangement may be made for a group to give a dramatic reading, if you are interested. Record responses to these experiences in your journal.

8. You may include some creative writing if you are inspired to write a poem or story in response to something we read in the course. If you aren’t a creative writer you might still try out ideas you have about how a story should or should not be illustrated, how you would rewrite the ending of a story or change a character, how you might adapt a story for children, or how you as a teacher would encourage students of any age to write poems or stories in response to literature they read.

NOTE: The following suggestions involve outside reading (or viewing) not required in this course. If your interests or abilities are advanced enough that you wish to pursue outside sources, you may do any of the following in your journal. Be sure you are using approved materials before you write too much in your journal based on outside reading. For example, Cliff Notes and Monarch Notes are not considered reputable sources of background or criticism. Unless you are tracing a connection between something in current popular culture and the literature we study, articles from The National Enquirer or People would not be considered appropriate sources of information or criticism.

9. Summarize (in your own words—or use quotation marks if you quote directly) and give your opinion of a critical essay on folktales or on an author we study. Be sure the professor has a copy of the essay.

10. Summarize briefly any outside reading you do on an author or other relevant background subject: history, politics, art, architecture, philosophy, music, economics, publishing, language, history of science, etc. Be sure to indicate the sources of your information and comment on how it influences your understanding of particular works of literature or folk tradition we study.

11. Write comments on a film or cartoon version of a work we study or any folktale; compare the video to the written version(s). Or record your responses to a taped reading of a work, or to a film/television program about an author, or to storytelling events or campus cultural events this semester. See the library and the professor for available recordings, films, and videos. Group showings can be arranged for films we do not have time to watch in class.

12. Summarize briefly and respond to a work of literature not assigned for the course. The literature should have some connection with folk traditions, although you might occasionally want to make a connection with other works you have read outside the scope of the course, including children’s literature,

05/01/06 10:50 PM
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