Writing is one of the most under-taught skills in public schools.
Fight me! I can take the heat.
With all the focus on STEM, writing skills have taken a backseat to our cultural obsession with science and technology. Any educational system that does not value writing does a disservice to its students.
Not only is writing linked to critical thinking, it has implications for performance across all areas of the school curriculum. When children learn to write well, they open up new avenues of communication.
How can you help your child learn to write well outside of the classroom?
You can offer them writing activities to do in the home. Keep reading if you’d like a how-to guide on book review writing for kids…
What is a Book Review?
Kids need to understand the difference between book reports and book reviews.
A book report is a simple explanation of an author’s background and a summary of the plot of a story. The structure of a book report is simple. Book reports help young readers explore each of the elements of fiction in a very specific way.
A book review is a critical or evaluative account of a book that covers the themes or ideas in a text in depth. It provides a summary of story content and assesses the value of it to potential readers.
Even young children can write simple book reviews.
TIP: ASK KIDS TO WRITE REVIEWS ON 5″x8″ RULED INDEX CARDS.
What are the Benefits to Book Review Writing for Kids?
- Improves writing skills
- Helps child engage more deeply with what they’re reading
- Reflection: Children connect events and themes in order to develop deeper understanding of the story.
- Expands vocabulary
TIP: TAKE AWAY THE STIGMA OF WRITING THE PERFECT SENTENCE.
Steps to Writing a Book Review
*Note: All examples come from my ten-year-old son Freddy’s book review of Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson and Allison Steinfeld.
- Give your review a heading or title. Example: Freddy B’s Book Review of Kid Activists.
- Set the tone of your review in your opening sentence. Is your review favorable? Or unfavorable? You can start your review with a quote from the book or an interesting fact about the book or author. Example: This inspiring story taught me many things like not to give up and not to be greedy.
- Introduce the book with its title, author, and genre. Write a short synopsis. 1-3 sentences should do the trick. Don’t tell too much, and don’t give away spoilers. A spoiler is a piece of information that spoils or ruins a surprise (like giving away the ending of a book before others have the chance to read it). This is not a book report, so say as little as possible about the plot itself.
- Did you like the book? Why or why not? List the strengths and weaknesses of the book and use specific examples to support your praise or criticism of it. Example: These activists were amazing as kids! Alexander Hamilton ran a business when he was only sixteen. When a boy pushed Rosa Parks off the sidewalk, she pushed back. Susan B. Anthony only got $1.25 when she was a teacher, but the male teachers got $6.00. These people put themselves out in the world and spoke for what they thought was right, and I find that truly inspiring.
- Can you compare this series to another text? Example: This book is part of a series, and all of them tell true childhood biographies.
- What were the key messages or points from this book? Example: Many of these activists fought against slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia, child labor, and dirty water.
- Opinion time! Who might like this book and would you recommend it to others?
TIP: HELP YOUR CHILD MAKE A MIND MAP.
You CAN fill the gaps in your child’s education.
If you want to strengthen your child’s writing skills, provide them with enrichment activities in the home in order to set them up for success.
One such enrichment activity is a book review. Ask your child to write a book review using the steps outlined above.
If your child has a difficult time getting started, prompt their free writing or mind map by posing a thought-provoking question about the book they just finished.
Writing book reviews improves communication skills, helps children engage more deeply with what they read, and expands vocabulary.