Minds On

Book reviews

In this learning activity, you will review a book you have read or an audiobook you have listened to.

Student Success

Think-Pair-Share

Why are book reviews helpful? If possible, discuss your answer with a partner.

Note to teachers: See your teacher guide for collaboration tools, ideas and suggestions.

Action

Be a book reviewer

What are the features of a good book review for a story?

Checklist for a good book review:

  • include the title, author, and genre (a story is usually fiction)
  • summarize and be short (without giving away the entire plot or too much)
  • highlight parts of the book (theme or just one chapter)
  • evaluate the value of the book; recommendation for others to read or not
  • include what you liked, or thought was good, give specific examples
  • include what you did not like, or thought could have been better, what you would have liked to have been added, give specific example
  • If you did not like the book, you can describe an audience who might (different age, people with a particular interest or who might connect with the book’s theme, or character)

If you choose a book you have read a while ago or even recently, you will need a copy and either reread it quickly or skim through to refresh your memory.

You may also choose a book you are about to read. You may wish to take notes (using a story map), or plot line as you read to take jot notes in a journal or notebook, or audio record.

Access the following fillable and printable Story Map Template to help you map the elements of the story. You can also complete the activity in your notebook.

Story Map Template Press the ‘Activity’ button to access Story Map Template. Activity (Open PDF in a new window)

When writing your review, use the “features of a good book review” listed at the start of the Action section to help guide you.

In 5-8 sentences, try to capture what the story is about. Include the main character(s), setting, gist of the problem (not the solution or the ending, leave that for the reader), and the theme or topic. If it’s a longer story, choose a chapter of the book. Leave your rating and opinion of the book out of the summary. This part should be written in 3rd person. It can be written in the present tense OR past tense. Whichever tense you choose, stay in that tense.

In the next, 5-8 sentences of the same paragraph, provide your opinion of the book and/or author’s writing stye. You can include your feelings if the book pulled you into the story (exciting, sad, humorous, a mix, action, thriller/suspense), or if you did not find the book interesting you can express that too. Include an example to illustrate your point of view.

Student Tips

Writing your opinion about the book

When you include what you think is a strength or good about of the book, include an example from the book. Similarly, when you share a weakness about the book, include an example. Then, conclude your review with either a thumbs up to recommend this book for others to read, or a thumbs down to recommend to others to pass on reading it.

If your opinion or point of view is that this is a powerful story, you can share a kind of cause and effect opinion or experience such as how this story affected you as a reader or individual. Overall, your review should be 1 paragraph. Include a picture of the cover of the book.

Outline the ideas of your review first in a paragraph frame using jot notes (jot notes are not complete sentences) or bullet points.

Use the good book review checklist at the start of the Action section to help guide your work.

Student Tips

Optional video

You can explore the following episode of Homework Zone called “Book Report” to learn some tips about writing book reports.

What are the features of a good book review for a nonfiction / informational text?

When writing an information text non-fiction book review, make sure to:

  • include the title, author, and genre (fact book, procedural, or encyclopedia resource)
  • summarize in 1 paragraph
    • the topic
    • degree of details in facts
    • the amount of information
    • how current or up to date is the information
    • text features - clear layout, ease of use
    • the sources used
  • include for whom and when or where this book might be useful
  • compare it to another book with similar or same topic
  • give an age group

Use a table or chart to organize your ideas in point form (or jot notes - not complete sentences yet). You can include cause and effect opinions or experiences such as the effect of the information in this book on you as a reader or individual. Use the previous checklist for reviewing an informational text to help guide you.

Organizing ideas

Paragraph frame

Access the following fillable and printable Paragraph Frame to help you organize your ideas. You can also complete the activity in your notebook.

Paragraph Frame Press the ‘Activity’ button to access the Paragraph Frame. Activity (Open PDF in a new window)

Write your draft

Using your paragraph frame, write a draft of your review.

Explore the following episodes of Homework Zone entitled “How Write a Paragraph” and “How to Write Paragraph with Supporting Details” to learn tips on how to write good paragraphs.

Revise your draft

If possible, revise with a peer for elements, clarity, length. Edit for spelling, consistent verb tense (either present or past, not a combination).

If possible, conference with your teacher for teacher feedback. Write your final draft to include revisions and edits.

Write your final draft or polished piece.

Consolidation

Publish your review

Publish and share your book review.

Share reviews with a peer

Share your review with a partner, someone in your home, or your class. Read a book based on a someone else’s book review. Alternatively, listen to an audiobook that has been reviewed. Compare your opinion and experience to the review. How did the book measure up to the review?

Reflection

As you read through these descriptions, which sentence best describes how you are feeling about your understanding of this learning activity? Press the button that is beside this sentence.

I feel…

Now, record your ideas using a voice recorder, speech-to-text, or writing tool.