Having students reflect on their reading and reviewing what they have read remains a core activity in many curricula because it is an easy way to encourage critical thinking, although students often view it as a boring chore.
But there are ways to make it a more meaningful task that goes beyond “I liked this book because…”
Here are some tips.
- Explain the purpose of a review of anything -book, movie, restaurant – is to share a personal opinion of your experience of it and that this can influence the choices of others.
- A review is a commentary not a summary, so while there is an outline of the plot (without giving away the ending) the important thing is the opinion of the reviewer. It should be concise and to the point. Even professional reviews are no more than 1000 words.
- Reviews can be positive, negative or somewhere in-between but the best always have evidence to support the judgement.
- There are core elements that readers need to know -in the case of books, the title, author, illustrator, publisher, ISBN, series (if applicable) and genre -so the reader can immediately decide if this is something they are interested in and can find the item or other reviews if they wish.
- “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – reviews are based on personal experience and opinion so what one person likes, another may loathe.
This is a guide to the sorts of things that should be considered when writing a review of a work of fiction but it needs to be adapted to match the age of the student.
The format of a book review can be as diverse as the books themselves but here are three for early, middle and senior primary that could serve as a guide to engage students in their thinking process.