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How to encourage children to write book reviews

This post comes courtesy of Read, Write, Think as I think it explains things pretty well (even for some adults lol)

Reviewing a favourite (or not so favourite) book helps a child’s reading comprehension. It also gives him or her the opportunity to express an opinion through writing and develop his or her writing style and voice.In order to write an effective review, one that helps the reader decide whether or not to pick up a particular book, a child must include certain elements. By helping a child recognize what those elements are and how they can help him or her express opinions, you’ll provide a framework for writing about not only books but movies, plays, and TV shows.

What To Do

  1. Look for some examples of book reviews. Your favorite magazine or local newspaper may be a good source; some newspapers even include reviews by middle or high school students. You can also find book reviews online at the Books section of USA Today or The New York Times, the Barnes & Noble Review, or Kirkus Reviews.
  2. Read some book reviews with a child and together pick out the main elements, which should include:
    • The book’s title and author
    • A brief summary of the plot that doesn’t give away too much
    • Comments on the book’s strengths and weaknesses
    • The reviewer’s personal response to the book with specific examples to support praise or criticism
  3. Help the child choose a book to review. It can be a novel he or she is reading for fun or a book that was assigned for school. One way to encourage interest and have some fun with the project is to pick an alternative to a traditional young adult novel, such as a children’s picture book, a comic strip novel, or a book of photography.
  4. Encourage the child to take notes while reading the book to be reviewed so he can remember what points he wants to make later and what specific scenes or quotes he might want to use to support those points.
  5. Suggest that a child outline the book review before writing, using one paragraph for each point he or she wants to make about the book.
  6. Some ideas for a child to keep in mind while writing the review:
    • Does the book fit into a genre, like mystery or romance, and why?
    • When and where does the action in the book take place? Does the author do a good job of making you feel like you are there? How?
    • Are the main characters believable? Do you know anyone like them? Does the author adequately describe them?
    • What do you like or dislike about the author’s writing style? That is, do you like the way the author uses words?
    • Use concrete examples to back up your points, such as describing a scene that really moved you or using a couple of short quotes from the book.
    • Don’t forget to include your opinion of the book, whether you liked or disliked it.
  7. Have the child do some background research on the author. Sources might include the author’s personal website, the website for the book’s publisher, or biographies of the author. Learning information about the author and knowing what other books he or she may have written can add context to a review.

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