Merging #Booksnaps with Sketchnotes

Example of a #BookSnap

Example of a #BookSnap

For the last little while, I’ve been playing with #BookSnaps, the very cool idea that Tara Martin came up with. If you haven’t heard of a #BookSnap, don’t worry: it isn’t an app or a product that you need to learn the ins and outs of. Instead, to make a #BookSnap, you simply use Snapchat to take a picture of a quote or a page in a book. Then, using the tools available in Snapchat, you can highlight the quote, add your thoughts, pop in emojis or stickers, and download the snap. For more information check out Tara’s how-to videos here.

I love snapping a picture of what I’m reading and saving my reactions to what I read — but I was a little frustrated with writing just one comment per page. As I annotated my reading, I was amassing an awful lot of Booksnaps to hold on to.

Example of a sketchnote

Example of a sketchnote

Lately, I’d also discovered Sketchnotes, a visual note taking system that uses images, fonts, colors, and shapes to take note of ideas. While sketchnoting — which you can do while reading a book or listening to a talk — you focus on the big ideas involved and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. When we synthesize information and make it visual, we tend to remember the information longer. (I create sketchnotes digitally since my handwriting is illegible and I can barely draw a stick figure.)

Since I didn’t want to use #Booksnaps to simply share quotes or a short impression of my reading, I decided to find a way to take more detailed notes on my reading. My solution? I created a hybrid version of #Booksnaps and Sketchnotes in order to fit more onto a page, melding the two ideas together. I used Google Draw to do this:

booksnap sketchnote

Here’s how I used Google Draw to take notes on a book:

  • While reading a chapter of a book, I jot down a few notes by hand and take pictures of quotes and graphs that jump out at me. 
  • I go back and look for the page that speaks to me the most, the one that has the most information I want to remember.
  • I think of the overarching ideas that I find important — some quotes that stand out to me or information I don’t want to forget — and I try to synthesize it.
  • I take pictures of certain parts of the book and add them to my #Booksnap.
  • I write comments about my reading, and add stickers or emojis.
  • I only allow myself to include the information that fits on one page, which forces me to summerize the ideas
  • I download the drawing as a picture, crop it and save it to my professional reading blog.

Summarizing all the information forces me to really focus on the chapter I’m reading and digest it. Normally, because I read quickly, I forget much of what I read but by the time I finish this process, I’m surprised at how much I retain! 

Classroom application: I see this as an effective way for students to annotate text as well. Not only will the process help them remember what they’ve read, but for studying purposes, the images are far easier to review than pages of traditional notes. 





  1. Hi,
    I can see that this is a wonderful way of exploring, pondering over text materials. This merger of artistry and visual effects captures attention and aids in memory. I can see this used in Literature Circles right away.

  2. Marilyn McAlister May 27, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I absolutely love this idea, Carla!!! It’s brilliant how you switched over to Google Drawings. The detailed “how to” is just what I need to introduce the concept to my sixth graders. Many have phones. This is a perfect blending of technology, personal interest (Snapchat), and education. It ties in perfectly with close reading and annotating text. I will definitely be giving this #BookSnaps meets #Sketchnotes a try.

  3. Love this idea!! So many fun tools nowadays for students to learn differently. Not only this is fun, but for those students who sometimes struggle with reading comprehension, this can help them read carefully and analyze better. Besides you are right, when you take notes and have to go thru all these steps, it’s harder to forget. I wish I could have learned like this in school.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this, as usual it’s so helpful.

  4. What a great idea, and you made it seem so easy and accessible in this post! Summarizing and synthesizing information at its finest – with a little fun thrown in! How long do you think it would take students to do this?

    • That’s a good question, Aubrey. I think the first time it would be fairly time consuming, as they get used to the different tools. But once they know how, it doesn’t take that much more time than writing post-its. When they read something they think is important, they snap a picture of it, then later they choose the most relevant material and put it together. Of course, the kids that really get into “decorating” will take longer. I’ll ask teachers at school to try it out to see how long it takes them.

  5. Brilliant! Thank you!

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