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Book Review as Reading Response: SOL 4

Write. Share. Give. Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers

I've been learning so much about myself as I write book reviews. I've developed a format for thinking about reading and sharing that thinking with other readers who might be interested in the same book. The more I write about books and my connections to them, the more I want to learn more about writing book reviews. Readers have also been intrigued by my new writing form. It feels like the reader brings more to the meaning making process and then extends that learning.

Here's how it works
I begin each book review with a story about me. A slice of life about how I came to read the book or how I changed as I read the book. After that I move on to a summary, but not a blow-by-blow one. Instead I offer the reader a glimpse into the book and the style of its author. If readers really want to learn more about the book, they should read it. The author shares the writing and story better than any reviewer can. Finally, I locate something in the book worthy of more attention. I do a quick bit of research and then write a paragraph about how this theme/message or fact makes a difference in our world.

One of my students read this review I wrote about The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, and turned right around to write this amazing review of Small Steps by Peg Kehret.

This review experience has been a great way for kids to combine slice of life writing with research, outside connections, opinion writing, and summarizing. It's a win-win-win-win-win kind of a situation.

Please feel free to use my examples in your own class for mentor texts. Also here's a copy of the book review directions I made up!
Book Review Guidelines
Write a book review that has three paragraphs.
Tell a personal story that somehow connects you to the story read. Use the pronoun “I” as you write so that we know it is about you and how you think.
  • Where were you when you read it?
  • Did you choose it because it meant something to you?
  • How did you change as a result of reading the book?
Write a summary of the book, but don’t tell use EVERYTHING that happened. Just tell us the basic plot and get us wanting to read more. “You won’t believe what happens next!”
You might need to do a quick bit of research for this part. How does something that happened in the book or the theme/message of the book connect to the way the world works?
For example: After reading Roald Dahl’s Matilda, you might find out that in some schools children are allowed to be hit by their teachers. Is this true anywhere in the U.S.? Do you think it is okay to hit students? Find 2-3 interesting facts to share with your readers in the third paragraph


  1. Loving this approach to a book review; so much more interesting than the usual annotation, which gives me fits because it means constantly revising to avoid spoilers. Thank you for giving us permission to share; I will certainly do so with my teachers!

  2. Thanks for providing such a great way to respond to a book. I am going to copy the directions, too. This is something I often forget to provide. I speak out loud and assume they get it. Written directions are much more effective. Thanks.

  3. I am loving this format. It helps children and adults think about how to structure writing AND think about a book. The beauty of threes! The beauty of your thinking!

  4. We experimented with this format today, Kimberley, thanks to you...and I have to say that I'm loving this format. Thank you!


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