Updated on September 25, 2018 Virginia Kearney moreVirginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier. Responding to an article is a common writing assignment in College English. I wrote this article as a sample of how students can write an interesting response to something they have read. In writing a Response essay, you need to summarize the original article, but you also need to explain what that article taught you and how you agree or disagree with it. Read the following to see how to make an article flow smoothly and how to integrate the summary with the response. An interesting Harvard study concluded that kids who attend 4th of July celebrations grow up to vote Republican. My husband alerted me to this study when he read about it in an L.A.Times article. I thought it was a joke. It isn’t. In fact, the data is pretty impressive and more conclusive than the researchers, Andreas Madestam and David Yanagizawa-Drott predicted.
Apparently waving flags, hearing speeches, eating barbecue, and watching fireworks really does make people think differently about what it means to be an American. Reader Response Means: What Do You Think? I first read an L.A. Times Article about the study but was so interested, that I also pulled up the link to the original Harvard Study. Most college English classes include a Reading Response essay topic. Often students aren’t quite sure what that means. Basically, a reader response is telling what that article made you think about. We really do this sort of thinking, talking, and writing all the time. Ever told your family about something you heard on the news? Told them what you thought about it? That is just what you do in a Reader Response. You explain what the article was about by summarizing the main points. Then you explain your reaction. Often you compare what you read in the article with what you know about from your own life experiences, other things you’ve read, or news events.
The following is a sample reader response essay that I wrote after reading about a Harvard Study. Do National Celebrations Stir Patriotism? America is not the only country to have patriotic celebrations. For example, the Chinese celebrate May 1 as the beginning of communism in their country, the French have Bastille Day on July 14, and Mexico has Cinco de Mayo. However, do these sorts of celebrations really make a difference? Do the hearts and minds of people really become stirred with nationalism and patriotism when they see their flag and march in parades? Does that change their attitudes and behavior towards their government and country? That was the question these researchers wanted to answer. Can Watching 4th of July Celebrations Change Your Vote? Researchers Madestam and Yanagizawa-Drott decided to see if they could determine whether the 4th of July celebrations in the United States had an impact on voting records.
What these researchers did is clever. They decided that the only way to conclude whether participation in 4th of July events by children had an effect on their adult political participation was to find a way to determine how many of these events children attended. Because attendance would be difficult to calculate, they looked at weather records to determine which years 4th of July events had to be canceled because of rain. Can Rain Affect Party Choice? As a researcher myself, I wondered if the study fully takes into account the fact that parent attitudes are probably the most influential factor in influencing the political attitudes of children. In fact, the researchers do point out that more Republicans than Democrats attend 4th of July celebrations and that Republicans view the holiday as more important than Democrats. Actually, the interpretations of the data do take this parental bias into account. They suggest that in Republican counties, the 4th of July celebrations tend to be more political.
Interestingly, they also suggest that people with children are more inclined to attend 4th of July celebrations, perhaps because of an innate sense of their parental responsibility in making their children into good citizens. In his article on July 3 for the L.A. Times, Andrew Malcolm suggests that parents would perhaps be shocked to know they are also indoctrinating their children into a particular political party paradigm. Are Republicans More Patriotic? Neither the original study nor Malcom’s article attacks the elephant in the room, “Why would patriotism be more Republican than Democrat?” I grew up in a “blue” state with one parent who voted Republican and another who voted Democrat. Electric cars, nuclear energy and saving the forests are issues dear to my heart. So is helping the poor in America and abroad. I’ve adopted two children from China and seen first hand the problems of overpopulation, but I also want to stop abortions in this country and open people up to the possibility of adoption. I’m liberal economically but conservative socially. What Does it Mean to be a Good American?