In my classroom, we use a reading notebook as a way to allow me to have written conversations with my students about the self-selected books they are reading each quarter. My kids read about 4 books a quarter. I give them 15-20 minutes each day for self-selected reading.
We write our entries in a letter format. They must write 5-7 sentences in their entries to me about the book they are reading. When I write back, I talk about the book, ask questions about characters, settings, events, predictions, climax, conflicts, etc. The kids are always so excited to read my responses. My kids have to turn these in each week, most of the time they turn them in throughout the week, so the writing back time is often spread out.
We place the rules chart on the outside of the back cover. The Book Authors & Titles page goes on the inside of the front cover (there are two versions to choose from for this one). They write on the left side of the two-page spread and I write on the right side of the two page spread each week. The Genres chart goes on the first page in the notebook.
We use the blank books from Target for our self-selected reading notebooks. We use one notebook each quarter, which allows for 8 entries for the students and 8 responses from the teacher. We do an entry almost every week (not during short weeks or testing weeks) of each of the four quarters of school. They are a great thing to share with parents during conferences!
The Teacher Notes page includes a link to reasonably priced blank notebooks!