Writing Mini-Lessons: Effective Critical Book Reviews
Silently read the review of Long Shot, making notes as you read. Then read the review aloud together, thinking about the key features of a strong critical review. What does a book review need to do its job and make it an exceptional piece of writing? Continue by reading the book reviews written by writing guru Nancie Atwell’s seventh and eighth grade students. Compare and contrast all of the reviews you have read. Again consider the key components of an exemplary book review.
After reflection, brainstorm a list of the key features of strong book reviews. The list might have features such as these:
- tells about the main character
- provides information about other characters and/or a favorite character
- weaves in quotes from the book
- doesn’t give too much information, but doesn’t provide too little either
- brings in parts of the book the reader enjoyed
- provides a recommendation at the end of the piece
- states to whom the book would appeal most
- shares different feelings/thoughts the reader had while reading
- includes the theme of the book or the message to readers
- comments on the writer’s writing style and use of language
- is beautifully written with deliberate and strong word choice
After creating the brainstormed list, review Writing a Book Review, A Beginner’s Guide. Read that, underlining key points. Now reread the Long Shot review or any of the student reviews and compare/contrast how well the review matches with the information provided in the Beginner’s Guide.
For additional student-written book reviews, visit the Scholastic Share What You’re Reading website. If you feel inspired, you may write your own review to post on that site.