Skip to main content

Reader Response

 

Reader-response is a kind of essay used to express a thoughtful reaction to what (poem, short story, novel essay, or other forms of text) someone has read. As a reaction to a text, in which a reader examines, explains, and defends his personal reaction to a text, reader response is also called a “reaction paper”. A reader-response is therefore more than just a summary. It explores why a reader likes or dislikes the reading, explains whether she/he agrees or disagrees with the author, identifies the reading's purpose, and criticizes the text.

Reader-response is based on the theory which emphasizes the reader's significant role in the reading process and in the creation of meaning. Reader-response diverts the emphasis away from the text as the sole determiner of meaning to the significance of the reader in analyzing and studying the meaning or the interpretation of texts (Bressler, 1999). While reading, a reader creates her or his own meaning through a “transaction” with the text based on personal associations. The reader is not a passive receiver of information or meaning. He or she actively participates in the creation of a text's meaning.

As an essay, a reader-response is more than just a summary. It also expresses an individual reader’s own view on a text and how s/he sees her/his role as a reader. Thus, a reader response covers two main essentials: the summary of what the readers read and the reader’s reaction to the text. The reaction can be one or more of: (1) agreement/disagreement with the ideas in the text; (2) reaction to how the ideas in the text relate to the reader’s own experience; (3) reaction to how ideas in the text relate to other things she/he has read; (4) analysis on the author and audience; and (5) an evaluation of how the text attempts to persuade the reader and whether it is effective.

Since a reader response accentuates on the importance of the reader’s role in interpreting texts and all readers bring their own emotions, concerns, life experiences, and knowledge to their reading, no reader response essay will emerge identical with another. Fifty students assigned to respond to a single text will produce fifty subjective and unique reader response essays. Although these essays are varied in ideas, as far as they are written in the correct format, all of them could be accepted as adequate interpretation.

The length of a reader response essay is quite relative. It could be some hundreds to some thousands of words in length, depending on the complexity of the text responded and the depth of the expected response. Despite that, it generally consists of three basic components, but each section can consist of more than one paragraph.

Section one is used as an introductory part in which necessary information about the text and its author is identified. This section generally starts with a brief summary of the text, which covers the title, author’s name, and his/her main point—i.e. theme, main message, or central idea of the work. The summary should therefore not retell everything that happened in the work. It should express what the reader thinks the author is trying to get across.

Section two is the core of a reader response essay for it shows its writer’s reading thinking. This section comprises a good part of the reader’s response.  The reader may need to return to the work s/he read and notes the points s/he marked as significant.  She/he should pick one that s/he is “connected” with (based on experiences, interests, or knowledge) and write a response to it/them.  S/he can copy part of the passage into her/his essay (using quotes when needed) or just paraphrase the idea s/he thought was the most engaging.  S/he should respond to the idea of the passage but does not simply summarize the reading.  S/he should think about how the passage s/he chose relates to the author’s main point (from section one). It is best to try to stick to one specific point instead of trying to include everything the author addresses. That point, however, should be completely developed.

Section three reflects the writer’s goal as a reader. This is the place where s/he reacts to the point(s) analyzed in section two. S/he does this by answering some of the following questions. Is it a point I agree with?  Did it remind me of something else I have read or heard?  Does it remind me of any current issues or problems?  Does it encourage me to read other works by the same author, or not? Why or why not? To whom would you recommend this text?

To see how these concepts work in a reader response essay, look at the example provided below. It is written as a reading response to Jason Bocarro’s short story entitled A Long Walk Home. Before you study the example, you are suggested to read the short story first. It can be accessed here


References:

Bocarro, J. (1997). In Canfield, J., Hanson, M.C. and Kirberger, K. (1997). Chicken soup for the teenage soul. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications.)

Bressler, C.E. (1999). Literary criticism: An introduction to theory and practices. USA: Prentice-Hall, Inc.



Interesting short stories to read and respond (click the title to get to the story): 

  1. Jason Bocarro’s A Long Walk Home
  2. Raymond Carver’s Popular Mechanics
  3. Hemingway’s Old Man at the Bridge
  4. Matsuo Basho’s The Aged Mother
  5.  Mohamed El-Bisatie’ A Conversation from the Third Floor
  6. Gabriel García Márquez’ One of These Days
  7. Zona Gale’s Bill
  8. Colette’s The Other Wife
  9. Kate Chopin’s The story of an Hour
  10. Donald Barthelme’ The School
  11. Dostoevsky’s The Beggar Boy at Christ’s Christmas Tree
  12. Tolstoy’s Papa Panov’s Special Christmas
  13. O’ henry’s The Last Leaf
  14. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Last Dreamof Old Oak
  15. Murong Xuecun’s The Accident
  16. Chekov’s The Beggar

Comments

  1. I love this post. The guidelines are clear and easy to follow, and the sample, "A Long Walk Home" is well selected. What a touchy short story!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Flipped Classroom: Model Pembelajaran Campuran yang Efektif

Pendahuluan
Flipped classroom adalah inovasi metode pembelajaran terbaru di era dijital. Metode ini merupakan salah satu model blended learning yang begitu efektif hingga para pendidik yang sedang mempersiapkan diri melaksanakan blended learning direkomendasikan untuk menggunakannya. Penelitian mengungkapkan metode ini sangat efektif untuk mengubah siswa dari pasif menjadi menjadi aktif, dari pembelajar yang ‘ogah-ogahan’ menjadi bertanggungjawab untuk menguasai konten pembelajaran, karena metode ini mengaktivasi dan mengembangkan keterampilan berpikir siswa, baik secara mandiri maupun kolaboratif. Dengan metode ini, guru lebih berperan sebagai fasilitator, pembimbing dan motivator. 

Hakikat Flipped Classroom Sesuai dengan namanya, ‘flipped’, yang bermakna ‘membalikkan pola, posisi, urutan, susunan, atau arah sesuatu, flipped classroom merupakan metode pembelajaran yang membalikkan atau mengubah pola pembelajaran tradisional. Karena kata ‘flipped’ bersinonim dengan ‘inverted’, flipped cl…

Terrorized by Coronavirus Pandemic: Do we need Superheroes?

We need superheroes because their role models motivate us to be aware that any of us is capable of becoming a superhero, and by collaborating, we can fight any disaster that threats the world.
The coronavirus hit the world by surprise and keeps on spreading like wildfire across the globe. Only in four months, it has been affecting more than 200 countries and territories around the world, infecting more than 2 million people and killed more than 140,000. To limit the number of people’s exposure to the virus to slow down its spread, some countries or zones are locked down, offices, schools, and public places are shut, and our lives are on hold. Many people are despondent because they cannot meet their beloved ones. Some others are depressed about being unable to do the routines they used to have. Some even think their freedom is robbed.

The sheer terror and horror of this fast-moving infection are intensified when we hear that the number of death it causes keeps on increasing so sharply t…

In times of Coronavirus pandemic, we can make a difference.

Practicing kindness to others not only enables us to make a difference but also makes us happier and stimulates others to perform kindness.
COVID 19 hit the world by surprise and is quickly spreading like wildfire across the globe. Up to the time this article was written, it has been infecting more than 3 million people, causing more than 200,000 deaths, and sending billions of people into the stay at home or lockdown to help 'flatten the curve' of infections. And since it is a new virus, we now have only relatively limited information about it and there is no yet vaccine or preventative treatment for it. Having limited knowledge and seeing its devastating effects, it is understandable why people are anxious and frightening. 

What can we do in such a critical moment? Should we just let our governments do everything? No! Precisely while facing a radical crisis and when survival is threatened by an insurmountable problem that we have a great opportunity to do good to make a differ…