Here’s how you can write a one or two-paragraph book review:
- List the book’s title, author, genre, and a descriptive word or phrase that will inspire other kids to read the rest of your review.
- Summarize what the book is about (1-3 sentences).
- Tell us whether you liked it, and if so, why? (2-3 sentences)
- If you didn’t like it, why not? (2-3 sentences)
- Rate your enjoyment of the book from one to five stars (1 = poor, 5 = excellent)
That’s it! Read your review aloud to yourself. Does it make sense? Could someone who’s never read the book get what you’re trying to say? Go to the Submit page, paste in your entry and contact information (including a fun username that we can post with your review), and hit the “Submit” button.
Within a week, we’ll respond with suggestions for how to revise and sharpen your critique. Revision is a fun and important part of the writing process, so you will likely need to revise your review one to several times before it’s ready for publication. We are here to help with that!
Need more ideas?
If you’re having trouble writing a critique, try a different approach. For instance:
- You could summarize the book in a drawing. Include a caption that explains the situation. On the Submit page, let us know what you’d like to do so that we can arrange to receive your drawing in an e-mail.
- Write a poem about the book.
Here are some examples of what makes a fantastic book:
- Unforgettable characters with well-developed personalities. They usually aren’t all good or all bad, but some of each.
- A strong voice that makes you feel powerful emotions (see this Human Emotions Chart). All of the examples we’ve listed above contribute to voice.
- Riveting plot that keeps you glued to the page to see what happens next.
- Lots of active scenes where characters are doing or thinking interesting things (not necessarily good things!)
- Dialogue that sounds totally real when you read it aloud.
- Sense of conflict and urgency — in a character’s mind or in the plot.
- Well-placed details. Interesting descriptions of landscape and characters, and use of original similes and metaphors.
- Appropriate pacing. Is the speed of the story fast during action scenes and slower/more detailed during reflective scenes? Do the scenes take you just the right length of time to read — neither too long nor too short?
And here are some examples of what makes a forgettable book:
- Shallow characters who don’t make you care about their fate.
- A weak or inconsistent voice.
- Boring plot that goes nowhere.
- Confusing plot. There’s nothing wrong with twists and turns, but by the end of the book, the story should make sense and not leave you feeling frustrated.
- Too much backstory. Too much information presented all at once (like character’s names, ages, histories, etc.).
- Too much telling rather than showing.
- Use of clichés rather than original phrases.
- Inappropriate pacing (parts of the story feel too slow or too fast).
Once your review has been accepted for publication, you’re welcome to send us a Shelf Talker version as well. Here’s how:
Condense your review to three sentences, including: (1) a catchy phrase, (2) a hint of the plot, and (3) how you feel about the book. Submit this to us as a Shelf Talker. If the bookstore thinks your summary will entice other kids, it may be printed and posted on a card beside the book at the store!