There are many reasons for students to read books. Developing a new academic skill that helps them prepare for life beyond high school, like critical-thinking or problem-solving, is just one. Another one is because reading can be fun and enlightening. If you focus on the academic reasons alone, you will miss the opportunity to help students connect to the heart of the story and possibly the world around them.
An insightful article on the Anneberg Learner website sums this up perfectly:
“Sharing personal responses shows students that they are "holders of knowledge," and that readers may have wide-ranging interpretations of the same text. The teacher's role is to ensure that all responses are grounded in the text and its cultural and historical context. By reminding students to connect their responses explicitly to the words of the text, teachers can help them discover how making meaning comes, in part, from prior experiences and linguistic and cultural background.”
Prestwick House Response Journals are a great way to help students engage with the heart of a book. They prompt students to reflect and make connections between the work of literature and their lives.