As part of our effort to spark an interest in books and stories, and to foster a love of reading, Otto Foundation libraries host monthly book review competitions.
Learners are encouraged to express their thoughts on the books they loved, as well as those that they did not enjoy!
Why encourage children to write book reviews?
Book reviews are a wonderful tool to encourage young readers to express their thoughts and feelings on a text. Our library assistants encourage children to write their own book reviews in order to help them process and make sense of what they have read.
Learners are encouraged to ask questions like "what is the author trying to say?", "do I agree with this message?", "how does this text relate to other things that I know?", "how did this story make me feel?", and "what would make this story better, or more relevant to me?". This helps children to read with comprehension and develops critical thinking skills.
book reviews make children active participants
engaged in reading - rather than
passive recipients of text and meaning
Book reviews also allow children to feel like they have a voice, and a chance to respond to what an author wrote. This makes the children active participants engaged in reading - rather than passive recipients of text and meaning.
In addition, reviews create a bit of 'buzz' around new books that are added to the library and introduce children to books and authors that they may not have read and seen before.
Book reviews are displayed in prominent spots in our libraries. This gives children recognition for good reading habits and encourages them to become reading role models for each other.
What do we learn from children's book reviews?
Book reviews help us to understand how children think and what interests them. We use this information to inform our choices when expanding our library catalogues, and to tailor our literacy interventions to the children that we work with.
Reviews are a useful way to gauge levels of comprehension, and to ensure that library lessons and book choices for different age groups are pitched appropriately.
What format to use for book reviews
Learners should be encouraged to review books in any format that they choose. We have, however, created a basic review template that provides some scaffolding for children who may feel intimidated by the idea of creating a review from scratch - all writers know the terror or the blank page! This template is available to download here:
Keep reading and writing!
The Otto Foundation Team