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  • Writer's pictureWrite and Read (Laura)

Independent Reading Accountability for Middle and High School

Two teenagers are reading in a library. The boy is showing something to the girl, and she is laughing. The bold text says, "Independent Reading Accountability for Middle and High School."

Independent reading is an invaluable tool for student success. It helps to develop reading comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency, as well as a love of reading. Independent reading also helps students to better understand the world around them and think critically and analytically.

Because of its importance, we give students silent reading time during class or assign independent reading as homework. The challenge with this is accountability. We’ve known for years that reading logs don’t work. So how do we hold students accountable for independent reading? Here are some ideas to try.

Book Projects

Book projects are one way to hold students accountable for their reading, and they shouldn’t be long and complicated. Forget the daunting book projects we did as kids, and bring in engaging tasks that students will enjoy. A character locker, a character tattoo, or a novel playlist are a few ideas to try with your students.

A character locker book project is laid out on black construction paper. The project is filled out for Starr from the novel The Hate U Give. The locker shows her gym bag, basketball shoes, Kahlil's hairbrush, and a picture of her boyfriend. The second page has a written explanation for the objects in the locker.

Independent Reading Workbooks

Independent reading workbooks are a great option because students work on them continuously while reading their books instead of having an overwhelming assignment when they finish. It’s easy to take a quick glance through them, so you know long before the completion date if students aren’t reading. It’s much easier to help students before they fall behind.

An independent reading workbook is open to the page about the protagonist. The information is filled in for Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. There is also a drawing of Katniss over the blank body template. Part of the next page is also showing. It is labeled for setting.

Reading Response Choice Boards

Reading response choice boards are quick and easy for reading accountability. You don’t have to dedicate much class time to use them, and students appreciate being able to choose what prompt they want to answer. They’re also great if you’re focusing on one element of literature because you can provide students with a choice board with a specific focus.

A fiction reading response choice board is laid out on a table. The focus of the board is characters. A hand is reaching in to answer a prompt on the choice board response page. The hand is hold a blue pen and writing a paragraph about Starr from The Hate U Give.

Book Talks

Book talks are one of the best forms of accountability if you want to add speaking and listening skills to your lesson plans. Students present their books to the class in a way that convinces others to read them. Just make it clear they shouldn’t give away the ending.


Conferencing with students to discuss their books during silent reading time is a nice way to connect with students. Conferences work well with smaller classes. If you have larger classes, time can be a challenge. You may not get to every student in one class period.

Before you leave with new accountability ideas, just remember that there is a fine line between holding students accountable for reading and making reading unenjoyable. We want our students to grow as readers, but we also want them to enjoy reading. Students do not need an assignment every time they read. They need to know that reading can be done for enjoyment too.

Happy teaching!


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