How to Write a Reading Response Essay With Sample Papers


A reading response essay is an assignment that requires you to analyze and critique a piece of literature or an article. It is a way for you to express your thoughts and opinions about the text while demonstrating your ability to analyze it. Here are the steps to write a reading response essay along with some sample papers to help you get started.

  1. Choose a Text: Choose a reading that interests you and that you can engage with critically. This can be a novel, short story, poem, or an article. Make sure you understand the text and are able to articulate your thoughts and opinions about it.
  2. Read the Text Carefully: Read the text multiple times to get a deeper understanding of it. Take notes while reading to help you remember important details and to organize your thoughts.
  3. Write an Introduction: The introduction should include the title and author of the text, a brief summary of what the text is about, and your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be your argument about the text and what you will be discussing in your essay.
  4. Write the Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs should each focus on a specific point that supports your thesis. Use quotes from the text to support your arguments and make sure to analyze them in detail. Make sure each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that relates back to your thesis statement.
  5. Write a Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize your main points and restate your thesis in a new way. You can also discuss the significance of the text and how it relates to broader issues.
  6. Edit and Revise: Once you have written your essay, make sure to edit and revise it. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure your arguments are clear and concise.

Here are some sample reading response essays:

  1. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: In this essay, the writer analyzes the themes of oppression and mental illness in Gilman’s famous short story. The writer discusses how the protagonist’s confinement in a room with yellow wallpaper is symbolic of her oppression and how the story can be read as a critique of patriarchal society.
  2. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost: This essay analyzes the famous poem by Frost and argues that it is not about the importance of individualism, but rather about the ambiguity of choice and the way that choices shape our lives. The writer uses close reading to analyze the poem’s language and structure and makes a compelling argument about its meaning.
  3. “Why We Crave Horror Movies” by Stephen King: In this essay, the writer responds to King’s famous essay about the appeal of horror movies. The writer agrees with King’s argument that horror movies allow us to confront our fears in a safe way, but also argues that they can be harmful if they desensitize us to violence.

By following these steps and reading sample essays, you can write a strong reading response essay that demonstrates your critical thinking skills and ability to analyze literature.