It’s a wonderful thing to watch your child grow as a reader, and to share their sense of achievement when they finish a book. Why encourage them to stop and think about the book, and to take the time to write a review? Book reviews create dialogue and debate. They offer reflection; they push questions; they challenge ideas; and they inform readers, authors and even the reviewers themselves. In practical terms of course, book reviews help readers decide whether or not a title is for them or not. Perhaps a reader will even discover a title that they have not heard of before. As such, book reviews are an innately collaborative and community based activity, in which we think and share our reactions to the huge and wonderful array of literature that exists for little children, for readers who are growing in confidence, and for young adults. It is important that kids who love to read also value other kids’ opinions about the books they want to read.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Reflecting on a book that has just been read and writing a review, however long or short, helps to better children’s writing skills as well as their reading skills. Writing facilitates the vital process of evaluation and reflective thought. Kids learn how to form their own opinions about other people’s writing, and they learn how to communicate these opinions well. As they gain experience with this reflective process, they can also learn how to provide constructive criticism. In all, becoming a reviewer helps kids become assertive, self-confident, and well-adjusted critical thinkers who are not afraid to be themselves.
Not sure how to get started with a book review?
A review tells us what the publication is about and how successful it is at what it is trying to do. As a reviewer you describe the book, and express your own reactions. For example, you might think about the following:
- What is the author’s main point or plot?
- How successful do you think the author was in conveying the main point or plot?
- What about the setting, did it transport you to a different world or does the book deal with the world we know around us?
- How well does the author write?
- How did the book make you feel?
- Who would the book appeal to?
- What was your favorite part or what did you learn?
- What do you think were the book’s strengths and weaknesses?
Be creative! Its good to give your own honest and fair opinion.
Kids are never too young to start developing this skill! Preschoolers can review the books with their parents and early readers can also get assistance from their parents, or perhaps from older siblings or a teacher. After you have read a book together, ask for your child’s thoughts about the story. What is the story about? How did it make them feel? Why? Who were their favourite characters? Did they like the pictures? Which is the best bit? Do they think mum or dad also like it? The person helping with the book review might also like to think about who else the book would appeal to, for example, both boys and girls, kids who like animals, or children who like magic.
Let’s get reading and writing!