June 30, 2011

Guest Post: How to Write a Review by Paul K. of Launch Pad

A bit back I was contacted by a website named Launch Pad, so I checked it out.  I was very excited by what I found.  What I'm trying to do more of is getting my students to write for real audiences.  One way to do that is to have them write reviews for my blog.  Another way is finding places for them to publish there works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.  Launch Pad is a place for all of that!  Their tag line is: Where Young Authors and Illustrators Take Off.  I hope you check out Launch Pad and if you're a teacher for ages 6-14 use it as a place to send your students if they want to try being published.

Paul, my contact there who is an editor and publisher also offered to write a guest post about a topic that even I still need help with - writing reviews.  I plan on using it with my students - hope you learn something too!

How to Write a Book Review: Tips from an Editor and Publisher

As an editor and independent publisher, I am always looking for good book reviews written by children and teens from their own perspective. Book reviews are important, because they encourage other young people to read. Good book reviews tell potential readers about a book, without retelling the book. The best book reviews, in addition to addressing scope and literary elements, also offer opinions and insights about a book. Book reviews don’t always have to be favorable, but any opinion- favorable or not- should be supported by a reason. Book reviews can vary in length and style, and here are some tips and guidelines that will help you to write a useful review:

Read the book carefully so that you are able to give a thoughtful and thorough review. As you read, consider using sticky notes to keep track of topics to mention in the review.

The first sentence can “hook” the readers by mentioning the best qualities of the book, for example, “Anyone who likes action-packed adventures and fantasy should read this this book!”

Include a citation, with the author, title, and publisher, at the top or foot of the review. Other elements that are important include the illustrator, series title, if part of a series, date of publication, publisher, number of pages, and price.

The “scope” of the book describes the book without too much summary. To describe a book, include:
  • The genre (adventure, romance, horror, comedy, etc.)
  • A summary of only two to three sentences. Don’t give anything away that will ruin the enjoyment for readers. Adjectives evaluating the book are useful, i.e. “this exciting adventure tells the story of a twelve-year-old hero’s quest…”
  • A sentence or two describing the main character, and if appropriate, supporting characters. Did you empathize with the character? Why or why not?
  • The intended audience (young adult, boys, girls, people who like sports, etc.)
  • The point of view of this book
  • The message or theme of this book, for example, “the main character demonstrates by trying hard enough, anything is possible.”
The review describes your opinion about the book, and should answer some or all of these questions:
  • Why did you like the book?
  • To whom would you recommend the book, and why?
  • Is it well written? Give an example if you can.
  • What would have made the book better?
  • What did you learn about yourself or about the world from this book?
  • Did you change your mind about anything after reading this book? What?
In the last paragraph, or Conclusion, include:
  • What is your overall recommendation? For example, do you recommend this book highly, to only certain types of readers, with reservations, etc.?
  • If the book or its author have won any awards, they can be mentioned in the conclusion.
  • You can include a fact or two about the author in the conclusion.
Keep in mind that you may find it easier to write a review about a book that you really enjoyed. Our best book reviews go beyond the summary or events of the book and tell what the reader really thinks and feels about the book.
Launch Pad: Where Young Authors and Illustrators Take Off!
Publishes book reviews written by kids ages six through fourteen. Read our book reviews at

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