Learning Plans & Activities
Student-Written Book Reviews

Students will develop an understanding of key elements in a book review and write their own book review that will be available to view by students in the school library.

SUBJECT:

Language arts

GRADE LEVELS:

4-5

POSSIBLE PARTNERS:

Classroom teacher

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Students will analyze published book reviews to determine their components.

Students will summarize and evaluate a book they have recently read by writing a book review

MATERIALS NEEDED:

Access to reviews of children's books on School Library Connection reVIEWS+ or from other online or print resources.

TIME NEEDED:

Two 30-45 minute sessions (students will need to have already read a book that they will write a review for)

STANDARDS ADDRESSED:

AASL National School Library Standards

I.C.4. Sharing products with an authentic audience.

III.C.1. Soliciting and responding to feedback from others.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Instructional Procedure

Begin with multiple book reviews from a variety of titles. Choose titles that many students in your school are familiar with. If appropriate, select early chapter book titles that a greater number of students will have seen. Reviews can be found on School Library Connection in reVIEWS+ (https://schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/reviews?tab=5).

Using a Close Reading strategy, ask students to read one or two reviews through the lens of how the writer of the review is reacting to the book. These can be labeled sentence by sentence. Students may read and label in pairs.

As a second part of the analysis strategy, ask students, in groups of four to six, to look for patterns in how they labeled each sentence. Tell students that each label does not need to be identical to group it together. Instead, look for how things are in common. Students do not need to use every label in a group. After students have created groups, ask them to name their groups as a way to describe why all of the labeled sentences were grouped together. Most students will have a group of labeled sentences that describe the book and another group that evaluates the book. Students may use their own language to describe these groups. Use these labels as part of a checklist/rubric for the writing activity.

In the final part of the analysis strategy, come together as a whole class and ask what common elements were in most or all book reviews that students read. Continue identifying common elements by asking where these common elements appeared in the review and how much of the review was focused on these elements.

Tell students that they will be writing their own book review for a favorite book they have read. Give them information needed such as word count based on how and where these reviews will be shared. If written reviews will be read and recorded, share this with students. Ask students to select a book. See suggestions for differentiation below.

With the book to be reviewed and examples of book reviews in hand, students should draft a book review. Put students in pairs to do an initial check for the elements of a book review that were discovered earlier in the lesson. Students can use the created checklist/rubric to support their initial check. See differentiations below for additional roles students can take on in the editing process.

As time allows, provide your own feedback to students' reviews. Remembering that the review is the student's and will be available for an authentic audience, differentiate between necessary edits such as punctuation or capitalization and suggested edits such as word choice.

Differentiation

If you have access to multiple sources of book reviews, select multiple reviews of the same book. Ask students to look at common and unique elements among the reviews.

Additional practice in writing a book review may be necessary for some writers. In this case, writing a review together of a well- known picture book or early reader may help students solidify their understanding of the book review structure.

Students may choose different formats of books, including picture books, early readers, or early chapter books to create book reviews for younger readers. Students will need to think about audience and will likely write a shorter review and may use vocabulary friendlier to younger readers.

Students that want to focus on the same title can co-write a review.

During the editing and checking for elements, students can also suggest language, transitions, or hooks that they read in published book reviews.

Assessment

Criteria identified in the Close Reading element of the lesson should be identified within student writing. Other students as well as the teacher can take on the role of editors with a teacher created rubric based on those student-identified criteria.

About the Author

Tom Bober is a school librarian, 2018 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress, and author of the book Elementary Educator's Guide to Primary Sources: Strategies for Teaching. He is a Digital Public Library of America Community Rep, a member of the Teachers Advisory Board for the National Portrait Gallery, and a co-chair of the Education Advisory Committee of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Tom writes about student learning on AASL's Knowledge Quest blog and publications such as School Library Connection and American Libraries and has given workshops and spoken across the country. His foundation is built on over twenty years in public education, with six years as an elementary classroom teacher, seven years as a building and district instructional technology specialist, and over eight years in school libraries. Find him at https://tombober.com/ and on Twitter @CaptainLibrary.

MLA Citation Bober, Tom. "Student-Written Book Reviews." School Library Connection, September 2010, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2221847?childId=2221848&topicCenterId=1955265&tab=1.

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Entry ID: 2221848

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