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How to write a book review

Author Luisa Plaja offers her top tips for how to write a brilliant review of the latest book you read - whether you liked it or not.

how to write a book review 5th grade

Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.

If you're stuck on what to say in a review, it can help to imagine you're talking to someone who's asking you whether they should read the book.

1. Start with a couple of sentences describing what the book is about

But without giving any spoilers or revealing plot twists! As a general rule, try to avoid writing in detail about anything that happens from about the middle of the book onwards. If the book is part of a series, it can be useful to mention this, and whether you think you'd need to have read other books in the series to enjoy this one.

2. Discuss what you particularly liked about the book

Focus on your thoughts and feelings about the story and the way it was told. You could try answering a couple of the following questions:

3. Mention anything you disliked about the book

Talk about why you think it didn't work for you. For example:

4. Round up your review

Summarise some of your thoughts on the book by suggesting the type of reader you'd recommend the book to. For example: younger readers, older readers, fans of relationship drama/mystery stories/comedy. Are there any books or series you would compare it to?

5. You can give the book a rating, for example a mark out of five or ten, if you like!

Luisa Plaja loves words and books, and she used to edit the book review site Chicklish. Her novels for teenagers include Split by a Kiss, Swapped by a Kiss and Kiss Date Love Hate. She lives in Devon, England, and has two young children.

More writing tips

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Book Review Writing


If you love to read, at some point you will want to share a book you love with others. You may already do this by talking about books with friends. If you want to share your ideas with more people than your circle of friends, the way you do that is by writing a review. By publishing the reviews you write, you can share your ideas about books with other readers around the world.

It's natural for young readers to confuse book reviews with book reports, yet writing a book review is a very different process from writing a book report. Book reports focus on the plot of the book. Frequently, the purpose of book reports is to demonstrate that the books were read, and they are often done for an assignment.

A book review is a totally different task. A book review's purpose is to help people decide whether or not the book would interest them enough to read it. Reviews are a sneak peek at a book, not a summary. Like wonderful smells wafting from a kitchen, book reviews lure readers to want to taste the book themselves.

This guide is designed to help you become a strong book reviewer, a reader who can read a book and then cook up a review designed to whet the reading appetites of other book lovers.

Form: What should the review look like?

How long should it be.

The first question we usually ask when writing something is "How long should it be?" The best answer is "As long as it takes," but that's a frustrating answer. A general guideline is that the longer the book, the longer the review, and a review shouldn't be fewer than 100 words or so. For a long book, the review may be 500 words or even more.

If a review is too short, the review may not be able to fulfill its purpose. Too long, and the review may stray into too much plot summary or lose the reader's interest.

The best guide is to focus less on how long to write and more on fulfilling the purpose of the review.

How Do You Create A Title?

The title of the review should convey your overall impression and not be overly general. Strong titles include these examples:

Weak titles may look like this:

The Storm Whale cover

How Should It Begin?

Although many reviews begin with a short summary of the book (This book is about…), there are other options as well, so feel free to vary the way you begin your reviews.

In an introductory summary, be careful not to tell too much. If you retell the entire story, the reader won't feel the need to read it him/herself, and no one appreciates a spoiler (telling the end). Here are some examples of summaries reviewers from The New York Times have written:

"A new picture book tells a magically simple tale of a lonely boy, a stranded whale and a dad who rises to the occasion."

"In this middle-grade novel, a girl finds a way forward after the loss of her mother."

"Reared by ghosts, werewolves and other residents of the hillside cemetery he calls home, an orphan named Nobody Owens wonders how he will manage to survive among the living having learned all his lessons from the dead. And the man Jack — who killed the rest of Nobody's family — is itching to finish the job."

"In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South." Other ways to begin a review include:

Process: What should I write about?

Deciding what to say about the book can be challenging. Use the following ideas as a guide, but remember that you should not put all of this into a single review — that would make for a very long review! Choose the things that fit this particular book best.

General Information What the reader ought to know

Plot What happens?

Writing about the plot is the trickiest part of a review because you want to give the reader a feel for what the book is about without spoiling the book for future readers. The most important thing to remember is that you must never give away the ending. No one likes a spoiler.

One possibility for doing this is to set up the premise (A brother and a sister find themselves lost in the woods at the mercy of an evil witch. Will they be able to outsmart her and escape?). Another possibility is to set up the major conflict in the book and leave it unresolved (Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part or He didn't know what he stood to lose or Finding your purpose in life can be as easy as finding a true friend.)

Try to avoid using the tired phrase "This book is about…" Instead, just jump right in (The stuffed rabbit wanted more than anything to live in the big old house with the wild oak trees.)

The Storm Whale cover

Characters Who lives in the book?

Reviews should answer questions about the characters in fiction books or non-fiction books about people. Some possible questions to answer include:

Theme What is the book about at its heart?

What is the book really about? This isn't the plot, but rather the ideas behind the story. Is it about the triumph of good over evil or friendship or love or hope? Some common themes include: change, desire to escape, facing a challenge, heroism, the quest for power, and human weaknesses.

Sometimes a book will have a moral — a lesson to learn. If so, the theme is usually connected to that moral. As you write about the theme, try to identify what makes the book worth reading. What will the reader think about long after the book is finished? Ask yourself if there any particular lines in the book that strike you as meaningful.

Setting Where are we?

The setting is the time and place the story occurs. When you write about the setting in a review, include more than just the location. Some things to consider:

The Storm Whale cover

Opinion & Analysis What do you really think?

This is where the reviewer shares his/her reactions to the book that go beyond the essential points described above. You may spend half of the review on this section. Some possible questions to address include:

Are there parts that are simply not believable, even allowing for the reader's understanding that it is fiction or even fantasy?

Special situations: Nonfiction and young reviewers

Some of the tips and ideas above work best for fiction, and some of it is a little too complicated for very young reviewers.

Nonfiction What to do if it's real

When reviewing a book of nonfiction, you will want to consider these questions:

Young Reviewers Keeping it simple

Reviewing a book can be fun, and it's not hard at all. Just ask yourself these questions:

Remember! Don't give away the ending. Let's keep that a surprise.

General Tips & Ideas

Use a few quotes or phrases (keep them short) from the book to illustrate the points you make about the book. If there are illustrations, be sure to comment on those. Are they well done? Has the illustrator done other well-known books?

Make sure you include a conclusion to the review — don't leave it hanging. The conclusion can be just one sentence (Overall, this book is a terrific choice for those who…).

You can use the transition word handout at the end of the Writer's Toolbox to find ideas for words to connect the ideas in your review. If you would like to read some well-written reviews, look for reviews of books for young people at The New York Times or National Public Radio .

Rating Books How to award stars?

Most places you post reviews ask you to rate the book using a star system, typically in a range of from one to five stars. In your rating, you should consider how the book compares to other books like it. Don't compare a long novel to a short poetry book — that's not a valid comparison.

It's important to remember that it's not asking you to only give five stars to the very best books ever written.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

5th grade book reviews.

how to write a book review 5th grade



how to write a book review 5th grade

Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

how to write a book review 5th grade

How to write a book review: A complete guide for students and teachers

What is a book review.

how to write a book review | what is a Book review | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

Traditionally, book reviews are written evaluations of a recently published book in any genre. Usually, around the 500 to 700-word mark, they offer a brief description of a text’s main elements while appraising the work’s overall strengths and weaknesses. Published book reviews can appear in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. They provide the reader with an overview of the book itself and indicate whether or not the reviewer would recommend the book to the reader.


There was a time when book reviews were a regular appearance in every quality newspaper and many periodicals. They were essential elements in whether or not a book would sell well. A review from a heavyweight critic could often be the deciding factor in whether a book became a bestseller or a damp squib. In the last few decades, however, the book review’s influence has waned considerably, with many potential book buyers preferring to consult customer reviews on Amazon, or sites like Goodreads, before buying. As a result, the book review’s appearance in newspapers, journals, and digital media has become less frequent.


Even in the heyday of the book review’s influence, few of the students who learned the craft of writing a book review went on to become literary critics! The real value of crafting a well-written book review for a student does not lie in their ability to impact book sales. Understanding how to produce a well-written book review helps students to:

●     Engage critically with a text

●     Critically evaluate a text

●     Respond personally to a range of different writing genres

●     Improve their own reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Not to Be Confused with a Book Report!



While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are clear differences in both the purpose and the format of the two genres. Generally speaking, book reports aim to give a more detailed outline of what occurs in a book. A book report on a work of fiction will tend to give a comprehensive account of the characters, major plot lines, and themes contained in the book. Book reports are usually written around the K-12 age range, while book reviews tend not to be undertaken by those at the younger end of this age range due to the need for the higher-level critical skills required in writing them. At their highest expression, book reviews are written at the college level and by professional critics.

Learn how to write a book review step by step with our complete guide for students and teachers by first familiarizing yourself with the structure and features.


ANALYZE Evaluate the book with a critical mind.

THOROUGHNESS The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. Review the book as a WHOLE.

COMPARE Where appropriate compare to similar texts and genres.

THUMBS UP OR DOWN? You are going to have to inevitably recommend or reject this book to potential readers.

BE CONSISTENT Take a stance and stick with it throughout your review.


PAST TENSE You are writing about a book you have already read.

EMOTIVE LANGUAGE Whatever your stance or opinion be passionate about it. Your audience will thank you for it.

VOICE Both active and passive voice are used in recounts.


how to write a book review | movie response unit | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

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As with any of the genres of writing that we teach our students, a book review can be helpfully explained in terms of criteria. While there is much to the ‘art’ of writing, there is also, thankfully, a lot of the nuts and bolts that can be listed too. Have students consider the following elements prior to writing:

●     Title: Often, the title of the book review will correspond to the title of the text itself, but there may also be some examination of the title’s relevance. How does it fit into the purpose of the work as a whole? Does it convey a message or reveal larger themes explored within the work?

●     Author: Within the book review, there may be some discussion of who the author is and what they have written before, especially if it relates to the current work being reviewed. There may be some mention of the author’s style and what they are best known for. If the author has received any awards or prizes, this may also be mentioned within the body of the review.

●     Genre: A book review will identify the genre that the book belongs to, whether fiction or nonfiction, poetry, romance, science-fiction, history etc. The genre will likely tie in too with who the intended audience for the book is and what the overall purpose of the work is.

●     Book Jacket / Cover: Often, a book’s cover will contain artwork that is worthy of comment. It may contain interesting details related to the text that contribute to, or detract from, the work as a whole.

●     Structure: The book’s structure will often be heavily informed by the genre it is in. Have students exam how the book is organized prior to writing their review. Does it contain a preface from a guest editor, for example? Is it written in sections or chapters? Does it contain a table of contents, index, glossary etc? While all these details may not make it into the review itself, taking a look at how the book is structured may reveal some interesting aspects.

●     Publisher and Price: A book review will usually contain details of who publishes the book and its cost. A review will often provide details of where the book is available too.

how to write a book review | writing a book review | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |


As students read and engage with the work they will review, they will develop a sense of the shape their review will take. This will begin with the summary. Encourage students to take notes during the reading of the work that will help them in writing the summary that will form an essential part of their review. Aspects of the book they may wish to take notes on in a work of fiction may include:

●     Characters: Who are the main characters? What are their motivations? Are they convincingly drawn? Or are they empathetic characters?

●     Themes: What are the main themes of the work? Are there recurring motifs in the work? Is the exploration of the themes deep or surface only?

●     Style: What are the key aspects of the writer’s style? How does it fit into the wider literary world?

●     Plot: What is the story’s main catalyst? What happens in the rising action? What are the story’s subplots? 

A book review will generally begin with a short summary of the work itself. However, it is important not to give too much away, remind students – no spoilers, please! For nonfiction works, this may be a summary of the main arguments of the work, again, without giving too much detail away. In a work of fiction, a book review will often summarise up to the rising action of the piece without going beyond to reveal too much!

how to write a book review | 9 text response | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

The summary should also provide some orientation for the reader. Given the nature of the purpose of a review, it is important that students’ consider their intended audience in the writing of their review. Readers will most likely not have read the book in question and will require some orientation. This is often achieved through introductions to the main characters, themes, primary arguments etc. This will help the reader to gauge whether or not the book is of interest to them.

Once your student has summarized the work, it is time to ‘review’ in earnest. At this point, the student should begin to detail their own opinion of the book. To do this well they should:

i. Make It Personal

Often when teaching essay writing we will talk to our students about the importance of climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction. Just as it is helpful to explore large, more abstract concepts in an essay by bringing it down to Earth, in a book review, it is important that students can relate the characters, themes, ideas etc to their own lives.

Book reviews are meant to be subjective. They are opinion pieces, and opinions grow out of our experiences of life. Encourage students to link the work they are writing about to their own personal life within the body of the review. By making this personal connection to the work, students contextualize their opinions for the readers and help them to understand whether the book will be of interest to them or not in the process.

ii. Make It Universal

Just as it is important to climb down the ladder of abstraction to show how the work relates to individual life, it is important to climb upwards on the ladder too. Students should endeavor to show how the ideas explored in the book relate to the wider world. The may be in the form of the universality of the underlying themes in a work of fiction or, for example, the international implications for arguments expressed in a work of nonfiction.

iii. Support Opinions with Evidence

A book review is a subjective piece of writing by its very nature. However, just because it is subjective does not mean that opinions do not need to be justified. Make sure students understand how to back up their opinions with various forms of evidence, for example, quotations, statistics, and the use of primary and secondary sources.


how to write a book review | 9 1 proof read Book review | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

As with any writing genre, encourage students to polish things up with review and revision at the end. Encourage them to proofread and check for accurate spelling throughout, with particular attention to the author’s name, character names, publisher etc. 

It is good practice too for students to double-check their use of evidence. Are statements supported? Are the statistics used correctly? Are the quotations from the text accurate? Mistakes such as these uncorrected can do great damage to the value of a book review as they can undermine the reader’s confidence in the writer’s judgement.

The discipline of writing book reviews offers students opportunities to develop their writing skills and exercise their critical faculties. Book reviews can be valuable standalone activities or serve as a part of a series of activities engaging with a central text. They can also serve as an effective springboard into later discussion work based on the ideas and issues explored in a particular book. Though the book review does not hold the sway it once did in the mind’s of the reading public, it still serves as an effective teaching tool in our classrooms today.

how to write a book review | LITERACY IDEAS FRONT PAGE 1 | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.


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Whilst you don’t have to have a 1:1 or BYOD classroom to benefit from this bundle, it has been purpose-built to deliver through platforms such as ✔ GOOGLE CLASSROOM, ✔ OFFICE 365, ✔ or any CLOUD-BASED LEARNING PLATFORM.

Book and Movie review writing examples (Student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of book reviews.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to both read the movie or book review in detail but also the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the key elements of writing a text review

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of book review writing.

We would recommend reading the example either a year above and below, as well as the grade you are currently working with to gain a broader appreciation of this text type .

how to write a book review | book review year 3 | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |


how to write a book review | 2 book review tutorial28129 | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |


how to write a book review | transactional writing guide | Transactional Writing |

Transactional Writing

how to write a book review | text response | How to write a text response |

How to write a text response

how to write a book review | compare and contrast essay 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay |

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

how to write a book review | expository essay writing guide | How to Write Excellent Expository Essays |

How to Write Excellent Expository Essays

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

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how to write a book review 5th grade

Reading is a fascinating hobby and a healthy habit. It helps to develop a large number of skills: creativity, imagination, fantasy. It teaches literacy, attention to detail. Reading books, we seem to live several lives, putting on the shoes of other people, and experiencing their emotions.

Reading is also a required part of the curriculum. At first, these are small stories, and then students begin to read more complex works. By the 5th grade, you may already be familiar with some of the masterpieces of American literature.

Such a task as preparing a report is prevalent among students. It is funny and exciting. Let’s learn something more about its purposes and main steps.

What is the Book Report?

A book report is a paper whose primary purpose is to provide a summary of a literary work. The teaching should not carry out a severe analysis, study the context, compare different works, etc. In fact, everything is clear from the name. You just reported about the book you’ve finished recently.

In some cases, this can be a full-fledged literary diary. This is the same report, but it is more voluminous. For example, you read 20 books for the school year and included them in your diary.

Of course, if you wish, you can also rate the work you read. For example, "4 stars out of 5". The final format depends on the teacher. Sometimes this assignment becomes completely creative, and then you decide how to write a diary, even if you use a cereal box as paper for it!

How Long It Should Be?

If you look at some book report project ideas you’ll see that there are no strict requirements for your paper. Of course, it shouldn’t be something like "Tom Sawyer — Read". It shouldn’t take a dozen pages as well.

The most common format is about 0.5-1 pages for one book. But as we have mentioned above, sometimes it isn’t even a book. 5th-grade pupils don’t appreciate annoying formats. If you’re one of them, you can use a cereal box, a paper bag, a poster, a book jacket. If you have an excellent idea, don’t be too self-conscious to skip it! But ask your teacher in advance, of course.

Step-for-step 5th-grade book report

Below you will find step-by-step instructions to help you write an impressive report and get an A-grade!

Follow this, but don't turn off your fantasy. Sometimes it works better than all guides in the world.

Choose a Book

You should start with this!

If you did not receive a specific book from your teacher, choose it yourself. This may be the book you last read. Or the one that impressed you the most. Perhaps you are discussing a topic in class, and you know a book that is great for that. You can also address the choice with your classmates and share the options.

The preparation of the report must be unusual for you. And it depends on the chosen book.

Create a Story Map

Looking at book report ideas, it is easy to mention that they have something in common. They were not just written from scratch. They were strictly prepared with a map.

Of course, you remember everything you need about the particular book. Do you? You may miss some crucial details or set the wrong priorities.

The story map is a useful visual tool. Take a piece of paper and write the title of the book in the center. Now draw arrows with different names: author, characters, main ideas, leading problems, conclusions. This will help you quickly move to the next stages of writing.

Check Out Our Sample Works

Dedication. Quality. Commitment. Punctuality

Write Your Book Report Outline

Don’t know how to write a book report outline ? Ask your teacher or look for help online. You can do anything you need, but don’t skip this step just easily.

You already have a map, and now you need a compass. The diagram is your compass.

Start this off by creating some headers:

Each of the paragraphs can have their subparagraphs, which you will take from the map. For example:

You can come up with different names for these paraphrases. Remember, they are here to help you. If you have some associates, write them down on your outline.

Elements of a Book Report

Title and author.

This is the necessary information about the book, which will immediately give your readers an understanding of it. It can be as one sentence, the heading of your paper, or a small paragraph. For example, if you know some interesting facts about the author or title. It would be a great idea to provide a genre orand a subgenre as well.

In this section, you introduce people or animals or other creatures who are the basis of the story.

Depending on the volume of the book and your report, you can write about most of the characters, or only about the main ones. Of course, you shouldn't mention every random character that does not influence the course of events.

For convenience, you can divide the characters of the plot into different groups: positive ones, negative ones, neutral ones. Perhaps you will have other groups, ex. smart ones or funny ones. Look for some creative writing prompts to find inspiration.

This paragraph was created to bring the reader up to date. For example, when events take place, in which country. Could this be a fictional world? It is not necessary to describe too many details, but give a general understanding of the scenery.

The plot description is the central part of your report.

Finally, you can tell more about this story. How did it all start? What did it all lead to? What happened to the beginning of the book? Who faced the problem and for what reasons? How did the heroes cope with the challenges?

This chapter depends mostly on your readers’ level. If you’re a real fan, look for some 7th-grade book report ideas to make this paper even better. Don't let anyone limit you. One day, you will take this report in your hands, and you will be genuinely proud of yourself!

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