Creating Evernote Reading Notebooks

I take the girls to the library and they return with dozens of books. I hope they’re going to keep the girls happy for a very long time.

But a few days later the girls say, “When can we go to the library again, Mum? We’ve read all our books.”

“You’ve read all of them? Already?”

They nod their heads.

I’m not planning another trip into town for a few days so I say, “How about reading the books I sent to your Kindles… and there’s plenty of books on our shelves… “

So the girls devour some of the books we own while they wait to exchange the ones from the library. They read book after book after book. And all those books give me an idea.

“Wouldn’t it be great to keep track of all the books you read?” I say. “Why don’t you start an Evernote reading notebook and record them all?”

The girls want to hear more so I expand my idea: “You could…

  • Copy and paste an image of each book’s cover into a note. 
  • Copy and paste the book blurb from Amazon.
  • Add the book genre.
  • Write a few words about your reaction to the book… what you enjoyed most, what you didn’t like… and was it interesting, exciting, funny…?”
  • Add a favourite quote (if you want).
  • Include a star rating out of five (use a star icon).
  • Include books you’d like to read in the future.”
“What about the books we don’t finish?” asks Charlotte.

“You could add DNF (did not finish) and the reason why.”

We talk about the benefits of keeping a reading notebook:

  • It would be quick and easy to put together, and more fun than writing book reviews. 
  • It might be interesting to look back at all the books read: a trail of books going back weeks, months and eventually years.
  • Everyone could share each other’s notebooks.
  • A notebook might be useful.

“When I’m writing my book blog posts,” says Imogen. “I often have trouble remembering all the wonderful books I’ve read.”

I know what she means. When I was writing my post Five Favourite Read-Aloud Book Series, I was absolutely sure we’d read many great books together. But naming them? I had to search my memory and ended up asking, “Girls, what books did we enjoy reading together?” It would have been much easier if I’d had a notebook to consult.

So the girls decide to create Evernote reading notebooks. I think I’d enjoy putting one together too. There’s only one problem: I might actually have to finish the books I start. Otherwise my notebook might end up having only entries like this:

DNF: I got distracted by a new book I just had to begin before finishing this one.

Then I remember I have read a few books that I couldn’t put down until the very last page, like Ellen Gable‘s novels:

So what do you think? Would you use Evernote to keep a reading notebook? Would your children?

PS I think you can do something similar on Goodreads:

Goodreads is a free website for book lovers. Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.

And that does sound good, but I don’t really want to get involved with yet one more online community.

Talking of books, I’ve recently posted some book links on my Stories of an Unschooling Family Facebook page (in between the soup recipes!) Come over and have a look!

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  1. Reply

    I tried using evernote myself and never found a good purpose for it in my life. I'm sure there are many, but it was just one more thing for me to think about and learn so I let it drop. So I admire you for incorporating it into your school in a fun way!

    I've just been poring over the website for A Thomas Jefferson Education. I read that book some years ago and I'm sure I found it inspiring yet not practical for us. Somehow I recently saw a reference to TJED and so decided to look through what they say online. Wow! They have a trove of resources, and actually the method they describe is what I might call "respectable" unschooling–meaning, what they do sounds a lot like unschooling, yet I could tell my mom (a teacher) that I'm following "a Thomas Jefferson education" plan and she'd think I'm giving them a brilliant education (which would be true either way, but one sounds lax and the other sounds rigorous). I especially loved the math resource links, and thought you might enjoy them as well.

    1. Reply


      I understand what you mean about having yet more more thing to think about. There are lots of things I am avoiding for the same reason! Actually I stayed away from paperless notebooks for a long time before I took the plunge. Personally, I find Evernote less time consuming than using paper because I spend lots of time on my computer anyway, but it's not like that for everyone. I guess I also like creating in a virtual way!

      Thank you so much for the maths resources link. I do appreciate it. I had a look and yes, there's lots to explore. I shall enjoy doing that. I've also read the the TJED book. Lots of good things to think about. There was a long and interesting discussion about TJED and unschooling on the Unschooling Catholics Yahoo forum some time ago. If you do a search you might find the relevant thread.

      Funny how we have to reassure others about the kind of education our kids are receiving. I hope your mother is impressed by your Thomas Jefferson education plan! It would be good to have her on-side, I imagine.

      It's always good to chat. Thanks for stopping by!

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