Kids’ Book Reviews By Kids: How to Write a Children’s Book Review You Think Other Kids Will Like

You probably have to write book reviews in school. When I was a kid, I used to hate to write them. But now I use book reviews that other people have written all the time. They help me to decide which books I want to read next. So if you’re a kid and you have to write a book review, here is how to write one about a book you think other kids will like.

Actually, it doesn’t have to be about a book you really like. Negative reviews are helpful too. Sometimes a book you don’t like is still a great book, just not for you. Another kid with other interests might find that book perfect for them. So write your book review anyway.

Here are some things you must include in your book review:

Title

Be sure to get the correct and complete title for the book you are reviewing. Sometimes series of books have parts of the titles that are the same, and parts that are different. If you don’t include the whole title, another kid might read your review and get the wrong book to read.

For example, you probably know about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. But if you are reviewing one of the later books in the series, you must be sure to include the whole title, like this: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (Book 5.)

Author

You probably hate it when people say or spell your name wrong. I bet the authors of the books you are reading feel exactly the same way!

Be sure to spell the author’s name correctly. Check and double check it in your report.

Recommended ages or grades

You might read a funny book but know it is too hard for your younger sister to read. So include the ages you think would be able to enjoy the book.

You can say something like, “Recommended for 4th and 5th graders.” Or something like, “I’m 10, but I usually read books that are much harder than what we are supposed to be reading in school. So I think this would be better for sixth or seventh graders.”

Summary of the story

Give a brief description of the main things that happen in the beginning of the story, or the beginning and middle. But be sure not to give away the ending, especially if there is something really surprising that happens.

Here are other things you might want to include in your book review:

Something you really enjoyed

If you thought the book was funny, say so. If you thought it was exciting or scary, and you love adventure, mention that.

Something you didn’t like about the book

Maybe the beginning is really good, but the ending is boring. Perhaps the book seemed too scary for kids, or it gave you nightmares. You can warn others about that.

Other similar books

Compare the book you are reviewing to other similar books. That way, kids can get a better idea if it might be something they would like to read.

Others who might enjoy the book

Say what kind of kids you think might like the book. For example, “If you love to read books about spies or adventure, you will enjoy the Alex Rider book series.” Or, “If you like books about witches that are not too scary, you might enjoy “Which Witch?” by Eva Ibbotson.

Recommend other books or authors

It’s a lot of fun to find a whole bunch of books by another author that you didn’t even know about. So you can mention other authors with books like the one you are reviewing. Or you can suggest other books that are similar to this one, that other kids might also enjoy reading.

Think about the kids who will be reading your book review. Use some of these tips I’ve given you when you write. If you do, you will be able to write kids’ book reviews and help other children by sharing your love of reading and great books.

How to Write an Effective Book Review That Helps Readers Decide If They Want to Read a Book

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who review books for publication in magazines and newspapers, many more who review books on the Web. If you add in those who review magazines, newspapers, movies, theater, blogs, websites, Facebook styles, Twitter tweets, what have you, it may reach into the millions (well, that’s an overstatement but you get my point).

Some reviewers are good enough at reviewing that they are paid and paid well for their thoughts on what they’ve read. Some do what I might characterize as a journeyman’s job, competent but not inspired, while others are absolutely, abysmally awful, and shouldn’t be allowed near a pen, pencil or computer when they’re in a reviewing mode.

Reviewers-whether their interest is fiction or non-fiction, pop music or classical, television shows, movies, magazines, blogs or what-have-you-all have their own reviewing styles. I’ve been writing, for pay and for fun, for many years. And I’ve been reading. I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words in print and on the Internet, and have developed strong opinions not only on what makes good writing, but what makes a good review of writing.

What follows is an overview of my personal reviewing style, “reviewing style” meaning how I prepare to write a review, not the actual words I use. But make no mistake, the actual words come from the preparation.

Because I specialize in book reviewing, primarily mysteries and mainstream, with only a smattering about blogs and similar activities, and have never reviewed music or a movie-except among friends-I’m going to limit myself in this post to my thoughts on reviewing books. Another note for complete disclosure: I am not talking about reviewing textbooks, or technical or scholarly tomes that are written for a specific and equally technical or scholarly audience. I am talking about novels, anthologies of short stories, the kinds of things we read mostly for pleasure. So here is my answer to my own question. What makes a good review?

The first thing I do when I review a book is: I READ THE BOOK! Don’t laugh. To write a review by snitching from other reviews or copying what booksellers advertise about it is not at all funny. It is not only unfunny, it’s unfair to the writer, and it’s dishonest. It shouldn’t happen.

Yet I’ve read more than one book review that wasn’t much different from a CliffsNotes. In such cases, it’s easy to see that the reviewer had not actually spent time with the book, except possibly the jacket blurb. In recent days, I’ve read reviews of the same book in different publications that used identical language with no credit to a reviewer, so I couldn’t tell if they were written by the same person or if others were “borrowing.” Sometimes, reviewers apparently skimmed through the book, began to write too soon and in doing so, missed critical points.

Note, however, that I do read ABOUT a book before I settle in to read it for my review. I look at the publishers blurbs, knowing of course their biases. I read the jacket notes, and I always read the foreword and the afterword before I start the actual reading. In books that are heavily footnoted-such as the Teddy Roosevelt trilogy I’m reading now-I look at those back-of-the-book pages also, before I begin reading. I suspect that some writers would prefer that readers not read their afterword until afterward-sorry, couldn’t resist-after they have finished the book, but I find that it makes the story more pleasurable to read, and that’s what, to me, this kind of reading is about.

As I read a book for review, I note chapters and pages to read a second time. I don’t make extensive notes because that interferes with reading; from the earliest pages I want to get a feel for the flow of the story, so I make more mental notes than physical ones. The times when I let my intent to publish a review of the book interfere with reading is when I find a sentence or paragraph that I may want to quote, or if there is a significant philosophical or cultural point being made that I don’t want to lose.

Among the mental notes I make are my reaction to the writer’s style, effectiveness in pulling me in, making me part of the tale being told. I look for idiosyncrasies in people and places that take them out of the ordinary. I note particular turns of phrase or uses of words or descriptions that charm me-or scare me sufficiently to include in the review. And I look for personal characteristics, about the tale being told or the writer, that I can describe that will give the reader additional insight.

My goals in writing a review are two-fold. First, I want to speak to the reader as if we were sitting at my kitchen table sharing thoughts about what we’ve been reading. I don’t pontificate or lecture as if I possess some kind of arcane knowledge about what the writer was thinking. I use first person quite a lot-“I thought… I liked… I hope the reader… my reaction….” and so on. To sum all that up, I want some of me, some of my personal reaction to the book, to come through clearly.

Then, I want to capture the overall feel of the book, share a hint of what I learned about the actors in the story, and the settings in which the author put them without giving anything away that shouldn’t be. Books, I believe, have their own unique personalities beyond their plots, even though they are paper and print or words on a screen, and I want the reader to sense that personality. That’s what makes people want to read something.

If I really don’t like a book at all, I won’t write a review. I am a reviewer, not a literary critic. That’s my own choice. I want to always treat a book’s author with respect, and can usually find a delicate way to put a light critical touch in a review, if necessary. The writer has put time and effort into the work, I respect that, and my not liking it doesn’t mean others won’t.

But I will never resort to sarcasm or nastiness as some reviewers do. I recently-on this blog-wrote a diatribe about a major flaw in a book I had just read. It wasn’t a review, it was just plain old-fashioned blow-off-steam criticism, and I did not use the writer’s name or put any identifying material in it. And I will continue to read that writer’s output.

I’ve had years of experience of having my own writing reviewed and reviewing that of others, accepting and giving criticism, and I’ve learned the importance of saying what I think, but saying it kindly. So that’s how I look at my challenges as a reviewer of some wonderful books, some ordinary books, and some that are, well-unreviewable.

About Marcia Applegate

Retired communications consultant with major firms, writer, columnist, blogger, living in Asheville N.C., moved here from Chicago, love Asheville mountain scenery and people, still miss Chicago, though. Children, Grandchildren, greatgrands scattered across the country. Love reading, of course, love reviewing what I read, and have lots and lots of opinions on this and that.

How to Write a Book Review

One of my favorite pastimes is reading. I literally devour books, up to 6 per month. As I am reading, I often realize that what the author is sharing is a profound truth that needs to be realized, and implemented, by more people in our world.

I do not have enough reading friends (to tell about the book) to feel satisfied that I played my part in spreading this truth. The solution? I write reviews online.

When you write a book review online, you are spreading the news about it. You are creating awareness, and promoting the book. As people see and read your review, they will most probably be enticed to read the book (if it’s a good review) and the message of the book is spread further and wider.

The only question that remains is “How do I write a successful, high-quality book review?” I hope to answer that in the rest of this article.

Firstly, a set recipe for creating a book review is not necessarily a good idea. Organic is the new way. People like to read something from the heart, something natural and authentic. Something organic. Therefore, let your emotions and your heart be your guide.

Write about books that you feel passionate about (why in the world create a buzz about something you dislike?), but also write the review in a way that communicates your strongest emotions on the subject matter.

Secondly, use short, sharp sentences and paragraphs of four or fewer sentences. Reading an online review is something that you are supposed to enjoy. Fancy, difficult-to-grasp words, complicated sentences or paragraphs that look like pages hardly ever contribute to my enjoyment of reading anything online.

I prefer lots of white space, and writing that communicates FAST.

As a third point, I will consider adding a section on how the book read. You will agree with me that some books read easier than others. Is this book long? Did you need to fetch the dictionary once or twice? How long are the pages? What is the font size used?

How many footnotes were used? Did that distract you? All these things are factors contributing to the reading experience. And where better to talk about a reading experience than in a book review?

Fourthly, I would consider making the main aim of my review to share the main message of the book. What sells a book is its message, or topic. Share with you readers what this is, in your opinion, and share with them why you are excited about this message.

I prefer never to write about books that I am not excited about, or that I would like to criticize. I am not a criticizer… I just want to promote quality, useful books. Books that will make a difference in other people’s lives.

Finally, add some structure to your review. Share your main thoughts in the first few paragraphs, while making sure you introduce the book thoroughly. End the review with a Conclusion, maybe right after telling readers what the book meant to you personally.

What better proof is there of the fact that a book is life changing than the testimony of someone who read it? Go on, share your story. Tell those readers how and why this book made a positive impact on your life.

Good reviews conform to certain accepted length guidelines. I would call a 300 word review short, an 800 word review solid, and a 1,300 word review long.

So, there you have it. My advice for writing an online book review. What do you do once you have completed it? Good question. You can post it on your own blog, or website.

If you are going to publish reviews on your own site or blog, consider rating the reviews. Five stars to a good review and four stars to a fair review. If a book deserves less stars than that, I will not write about it.

You can also post reviews on the Amazon website.

Or, you can post it at one of the numerous free article directories. Here you are sure to get the word out, as webmasters and newsletter authors will pick up your review publish it.

Have fun reading! And then next time you discover one of those real life-changing books, why don’t you take a bit of time to do a review on it? It might just be a blessing to someone who really needs it.