The Power of Reflection: Learning from What We Read

A red coffee mug beside a napkin with "pause reflect act" written on it, and a sleek pen, suggesting contemplation after reading.

Our lives are busy and, if you’re like us, reading is a wonderful way to take some time out for yourself. We can’t wait to lay our hands on the latest novel and quickly consume each page and chapter as we take that well-deserved break and much-needed escape. 

For many of us, when we are captivated by a book, we can’t put it down and rush to turn the pages, eagerly wanting to know what happens next. Will they fall in love? Will our favorite protagonist win the day? But then we miss out on the impact that reflection has on personal growth and understanding of the world. We have often found that when we reread one of our old favorites, we pick up things we hadn’t noticed before. The art of reflection goes a long way to picking up these insights the first time around.

The Essence of Reflection

Reflection is the process of thoughtfully considering our experiences, actions, and the various information we encounter. When we apply it to reading, reflection is simply taking a moment to think not just about the plot but also about the themes and lessons of the story. It’s about asking ourselves what this story means to us, how it relates to our own life experiences, and what we can take away and implement in our own lives.

Open notebook with empty pages ready for reflective writing, next to a cup of coffee and fresh flowers, inspiring creativity.

Why Reflection Matters

Deepening Understanding

One of the main benefits of reflection is that it deepens our understanding of what we have just read. By taking the time to think, we engage with the story on a far more meaningful level. Learning through reading is a wonderful way to get the most out of each and every book! It's amazing when you start reading with reflection; you begin to see connections between the story and your own life. Moments that you would have previously read on a superficial level start to take on a deeper meaning and open you to a world of new ideas.

Personal Growth

As we all know, books are powerful tools when it comes to personal growth. Stories we read often act as mirrors; they reflect aspects of ourselves and our world that we might not have noticed before. When we take the time to reflect, we often uncover insights about what we value and our beliefs and behaviors. Books have the wonderful ability to introduce us to experiences and situations that we would not normally encounter. When we take the time to reflect, it can help us develop empathy and understanding for perspectives that are different from our own.

Critical Thinking

Reflecting on what we’ve read also improves our critical thinking skills as it encourages us to question and analyze the content, themes, and ideas we come across throughout the story. When we read without reflecting, we are far less likely to make connections between the book and our own experiences or be open to considering alternative perspectives. In other words, we are missing out on an incredible learning opportunity!

Emotional Intelligence

Books have a way of evoking strong emotions and when we take the time to think about our emotional responses and the reasons behind them, we can increase our emotional intelligence. Next time you feel a strong emotion or identify with a character’s experience, take the time to understand why—you will be amazed at how it can help you better understand and manage your own emotions and improve your relationships with others.

A person sits cross-legged on the floor, engrossed in writing in a journal, surrounded by peaceful home plants and decor.

How to Practice Reflective Reading

Practicing reflective reading doesn’t mean you have to spend hours reflecting on a chapter, and it certainly shouldn’t feel like another assignment. 

Here are some simple strategies to help you get started on your reflective journey.

Take a Moment

After you’ve finished a reading session, simply take a few moments to think about what you’ve just read. You may want to look at the emotions it evoked, the thoughts it inspired, or perhaps there are connections you can draw to your own life.


We love journaling, especially finding the perfect journal—and we have just the one waiting for you! It is a gorgeous, custom-designed moleskin notebook inspired by the Rubaiyat from our Young Adult box High Seas Heist featuring A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar. Writing about what you’ve read is a powerful way to process and remember it. You don’t need to write a lot; even a few sentences reflecting on some of the key themes, lessons, or questions the book raised can be incredibly valuable.

Share Your Reflections

We love the whole shared reading experience and talking about a book with friends, family, or a book club is guaranteed to provide new insights and perspectives. When you take the time to listen to others' reflections and share your own, you create a new opportunity for learning.

Apply What You Learn

We believe that true learning is in its application. Take the time to look for ways you can apply the lessons or insights from your reading to your own life. It can be as simple as trying out a new idea, adopting a different perspective, or taking some action inspired by what you’ve read.

An open journal lies on a marble surface with a cup of tea, cookies, greenery, and cozy slippers, inviting a reflective moment.

The Transformative Power of Reflective Reading

The true power of reading isn’t just about reading a story but lies in our engagement and connection with the book. Reflective reading turns the act of reading into a conversation between yourself and the story. It is a wonderful experience that opens up new thoughts as you begin an internal dialogue examining your life, beliefs, and the world around you through a new lens.

By making reflection a habit, you will take your reading experience to a whole new level and begin a journey of continuous learning and personal growth. If you’re looking for some books to start your reflective journey you may want to consider Where You See Yourself by Claire Forrest, Forty Words for Love by Aisha Saeed, The Davenports by Krystal Marquis, All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir, or This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke.

We have four monthly subscription options, so finding the perfect solution has never been easier. Choose from our Young Adult Month to Month, which is billed on a monthly basis, or from our 36, or 12-month subscription plans. A Once Upon A Book Club subscription is a gift every young adult deserves.

Happy reading and reflecting. We would love to hear how your reflective reading journey has impacted your life!

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