Book Logs

This idea is a development of a piece of evidence I found while searching through the library. It was a really pleasant surprise to stumble across something creative a student had left behind. A lecturer had clearly asked the students to write a semi-structured report on one or more books from the library.

It was really beautiful and inspiring to find a short description and investigation of a book by a student. The small piece of research demonstrated the student had more than simply glanced at the book, which is so common, but had actually considered it in a logical and structured way from different viewpoints.

It was clear the knowledge they had gained would remain with them and they would remember the benefits of looking at that specific book. Potentially, the reflection on the book, made them value it more.

Increasing Research using books and library in Art and design education

The book log can be done in all sorts of ways. Particular questions could be posed to the students for them to record a response. Specific books could be set and logs on all of them could be expected for a particular task or project.

There are many points about a book that could be considered. To ensure students cover relevant points, lecturers can ask specific questions that will best suite their level of learner and the particular project. Here are some suggestions:

• A brief summary?

• Cover image or most important images for the student?

• Particular details about the book as an artefact: format, paper/card, texture, smell, typeface, layout or material?

• What the book reminds you of?

• Why does it stand out?

• What ideas are going to be taken from it?

• A simple visual response using any or a particular media?


Book Log Example:

Book log for Vitamin D

By Georgina Wong

“The book covers a wide range of interesting new drawing. It has some good short articles explaining the artists. It relates to my project because it contains a wealth of different drawing techniques that I could use in my own work, particularly the work that combines media. I picked it because of the cover mostly and then noticed the kind of paper that it had, which is really beautiful. It’s a large book that has had a lot of love put into how it was made and is something that might work well for a present. Sam Durant was one of the artists that I noticed and this is the visual response I made to his work using spray and photocopier. I think others should look at this book if they want to get inspired about the different directions drawing can go in.”

Increasing Research using books and library in Art and design education

Extending the impact – Shared Book Logs

It is a pity that all of this useful information about the book should simply remain with one person. There are ways to share this information with the class and for it to have a life outside of an individual’s sketchbook.

The class can have a dedicated space within the studio to share the book logs. This can be changed each with week with different students’ book logs so that others can see which books the class has found and learnt from.

It is a good idea to produce this in a similarly structured format outlined above, perhaps even simply taking a photo of a page in the sketchbook that has a book log.


Book Logs – beyond the classroom

The log doesn’t just have to benefit your class, but can have a life that impacts on lots of people. Printing the log twice, once for the sketchbook and once for the book itself and return it to the library. This way, many others get to see the ideas, judgments and reviews that your students have made. As this builds up, students will expect to find these in books taken from the library, perhaps even noticing if there isn’t one to be discovered.


Book Review – Worksheet

Download the worksheet here: Book Review – Lesson Worksheet proforma


Aim: Reflect on books read throughout course and use these to inform personal work.


  • Produce an outline of a book
  • Reflect on the main issues raised and relate these to your project
  • Conclude the aesthetic or production ideas the book presents for your project
  • Respond to the book in a visual way


1. Collect an image of the book cover, a quick digital photo will suffice. The following sites can also help find an image and answer the following questions:

2. Write a few sentences on what the book was about:

  • How does it relate to your project?
  • What makes it stand out? Why did you pick it?
  • What ideas are you going to take from it?
  • Why should anyone else look at the book?

3. Note anything you noticed about the aesthetics or the production of the book, i.e. format, paper/card, texture, smell, typeface, layout, material, what it reminds you of, other media it might look like?

4. Print out your summary 3 times and put: 1x in your sketchbook, 1 x on the classroom wall and one back in the book for the library.

5. Create a small visual response to the book using any media for your sketchbook.

Daniel Freaker Daniel Freaker Educational Consultant, Editor for Pearson Portfolio.