Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

how to write a book review for high school students

WHAT IS A BOOK REVIEW?

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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 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.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A BOOK REVIEW?

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, book review’s appearance in newspapers, journals, and digital media has become less frequent.

WHY BOTHER TEACHING STUDENTS TO WRITE BOOK REVIEWS AT ALL?

Even in the heyday of the book review’s influence, few students who learned the craft of writing a book review became 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!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOOK REVIEW AND A BOOK REPORT?

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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 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 familiarizing yourself with the structure and features.

BOOK REVIEW STRUCTURE

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.

FEATURES OF A BOOK 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.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF TEXTS

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⭐ Make  MOVIES A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CURRICULUM  with this engaging collection of tasks and tools your students will love. ⭐ All the hard work is done for you with  NO PREPARATION REQUIRED.

This collection of  21 INDEPENDENT TASKS  and  GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS  takes students beyond the hype, special effects and trailers to look at visual literacy from several perspectives offering DEEP LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES by watching a  SERIES, DOCUMENTARY, FILM, and even  VIDEO GAMES.

ELEMENTS OF A BOOK REVIEW

As with any of the writing genres 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 before 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 its genre. Have students examine how the book is organized before writing their review. Does it contain a preface from a guest editor, for example? Is it written in sections or chapters? Does it have a table of contents, index, glossary etc.? While all these details may not make it into the review itself, looking 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 | literacyideas.com

BOOK REVIEW KEY ELEMENTS

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!

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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.

EDIT AND REVISE YOUR BOOK REVIEW

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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 | literacyideas.com

Teaching Resources

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

BOOK REVIEW GRAPHIC ORGANIZER (TEMPLATE)

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101 DIGITAL & PRINT GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS FOR ALL CURRICULUM AREAS

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Introduce your students to 21st-century learning with this GROWING BUNDLE OF 101 EDITABLE & PRINTABLE GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS. ✌ NO PREP REQUIRED!!! ✌ Go paperless, and let your students express their knowledge and creativity through the power of technology and collaboration inside and outside the classroom with ease.

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 | literacyideas.com

BOOK REVIEW VIDEO TUTORIALS

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

OTHER GREAT ARTICLES RELATED TO BOOK REVIEWS

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Transactional Writing

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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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: A Comprehensive Tutorial With Examples

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You don’t need to be a literary expert to craft captivating book reviews. With one in every three readers selecting books based on insightful reviews, your opinions can guide fellow bibliophiles toward their next literary adventure.

Learning how to write a book review will not only help you excel at your assigned tasks, but you’ll also contribute valuable insights to the book-loving community and turn your passion into a professional pursuit.

In this comprehensive guide,  PaperPerk  will walk you through a few simple steps to master the art of writing book reviews so you can confidently embark on this rewarding journey.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, offering insights into its content, quality, and impact. It helps readers make informed decisions about whether to read the book.

Writing a book review as an assignment benefits students in multiple ways. Firstly, it teaches them how to write a book review by developing their analytical skills as they evaluate the content, themes, and writing style .

Secondly, it enhances their ability to express opinions and provide constructive criticism. Additionally, book review assignments expose students to various publications and genres, broadening their knowledge.

Furthermore, these tasks foster essential skills for academic success, like critical thinking and the ability to synthesize information. By now, we’re sure you want to learn how to write a book review, so let’s look at the book review template first.

Table of Contents

Book Review Template

How to write a book review- a step by step guide.

Check out these 5 straightforward steps for composing the best book review.

Step 1: Planning Your Book Review – The Art of Getting Started

You’ve decided to take the plunge and share your thoughts on a book that has captivated (or perhaps disappointed) you. Before you start book reviewing, let’s take a step back and plan your approach. Since knowing how to write a book review that’s both informative and engaging is an art in itself.

Choosing Your Literature

First things first, pick the book you want to review. This might seem like a no-brainer, but selecting a book that genuinely interests you will make the review process more enjoyable and your insights more authentic.

Crafting the Master Plan

Next, create an  outline  that covers all the essential points you want to discuss in your review. This will serve as the roadmap for your writing journey.

The Devil is in the Details

As you read, note any information that stands out, whether it overwhelms, underwhelms, or simply intrigues you. Pay attention to:

  • The characters and their development
  • The plot and its intricacies
  • Any themes, symbols, or motifs you find noteworthy

Remember to reserve a body paragraph for each point you want to discuss.

The Key Questions to Ponder

When planning your book review, consider the following questions:

  • What’s the plot (if any)? Understanding the driving force behind the book will help you craft a more effective review.
  • Is the plot interesting? Did the book hold your attention and keep you turning the pages?
  • Are the writing techniques effective? Does the author’s style captivate you, making you want to read (or reread) the text?
  • Are the characters or the information believable? Do the characters/plot/information feel real, and can you relate to them?
  • Would you recommend the book to anyone? Consider if the book is worthy of being recommended, whether to impress someone or to support a point in a literature class.
  • What could improve? Always keep an eye out for areas that could be improved. Providing constructive criticism can enhance the quality of literature.

Step 2 – Crafting the Perfect Introduction to Write a Book Review

In this second step of “how to write a book review,” we’re focusing on the art of creating a powerful opening that will hook your audience and set the stage for your analysis.

Identify Your Book and Author

Begin by mentioning the book you’ve chosen, including its  title  and the author’s name. This informs your readers and establishes the subject of your review.

Ponder the Title

Next, discuss the mental images or emotions the book’s title evokes in your mind . This helps your readers understand your initial feelings and expectations before diving into the book.

Judge the Book by Its Cover (Just a Little)

Take a moment to talk about the book’s cover. Did it intrigue you? Did it hint at what to expect from the story or the author’s writing style? Sharing your thoughts on the cover can offer a unique perspective on how the book presents itself to potential readers.

Present Your Thesis

Now it’s time to introduce your thesis. This statement should be a concise and insightful summary of your opinion of the book. For example:

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a captivating portrayal of the complexities of human relationships, exploring themes of love, class, and self-discovery with exceptional depth and authenticity.

Ensure that your thesis is relevant to the points or quotes you plan to discuss throughout your review.

Incorporating these elements into your introduction will create a strong foundation for your book review. Your readers will be eager to learn more about your thoughts and insights on the book, setting the stage for a compelling and thought-provoking analysis.

How to Write a Book Review: Step 3 – Building Brilliant Body Paragraphs

You’ve planned your review and written an attention-grabbing introduction. Now it’s time for the main event: crafting the body paragraphs of your book review. In this step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of constructing engaging and insightful body paragraphs that will keep your readers hooked.

Summarize Without Spoilers

Begin by summarizing a specific section of the book, not revealing any major plot twists or spoilers. Your goal is to give your readers a taste of the story without ruining surprises.

Support Your Viewpoint with Quotes

Next, choose three quotes from the book that support your viewpoint or opinion. These quotes should be relevant to the section you’re summarizing and help illustrate your thoughts on the book.

Analyze the Quotes

Write a summary of each quote in your own words, explaining how it made you feel or what it led you to think about the book or the author’s writing. This analysis should provide insight into your perspective and demonstrate your understanding of the text.

Structure Your Body Paragraphs

Dedicate one body paragraph to each quote, ensuring your writing is well-connected, coherent, and easy to understand.

For example:

  • In  Jane Eyre , Charlotte BrontĂ« writes, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” This powerful statement highlights Jane’s fierce independence and refusal to be trapped by societal expectations.
  • In  Normal People , Sally Rooney explores the complexities of love and friendship when she writes, “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishized for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys.” This quote reveals the author’s astute observations on the role of culture and class in shaping personal relationships.
  • In  Wuthering Heights , Emily BrontĂ« captures the tumultuous nature of love with the quote, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” This poignant line emphasizes the deep, unbreakable bond between the story’s central characters.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create body paragraphs that are both captivating and insightful, enhancing your book review and providing your readers with a deeper understanding of the literary work. 

How to Write a Book Review: Step 4 – Crafting a Captivating Conclusion

You’ve navigated through planning, introductions, and body paragraphs with finesse. Now it’s time to wrap up your book review with a  conclusion that leaves a lasting impression . In this final step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of writing a memorable and persuasive conclusion.

Summarize Your Analysis

Begin by summarizing the key points you’ve presented in the body paragraphs. This helps to remind your readers of the insights and arguments you’ve shared throughout your review.

Offer Your Final Conclusion

Next, provide a conclusion that reflects your overall feelings about the book. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression and persuade your readers to consider your perspective.

Address the Book’s Appeal

Now, answer the question: Is this book worth reading? Be clear about who would enjoy the book and who might not. Discuss the taste preferences and circumstances that make the book more appealing to some readers than others.

For example:  The Alchemist is a book that can enchant a young teen, but those who are already well-versed in classic literature might find it less engaging.

Be Subtle and Balanced

Avoid simply stating whether you “liked” or “disliked” the book. Instead, use nuanced language to convey your message. Highlight the pros and cons of reading the type of literature you’ve reviewed, offering a balanced perspective.

Bringing It All Together

By following these guidelines, you’ll craft a conclusion that leaves your readers with a clear understanding of your thoughts and opinions on the book. Your review will be a valuable resource for those considering whether to pick up the book, and your witty and insightful analysis will make your review a pleasure to read. So conquer the world of book reviews, one captivating conclusion at a time!

How to Write a Book Review: Step 5 – Rating the Book (Optional)

You’ve masterfully crafted your book review, from the introduction to the conclusion. But wait, there’s one more step you might consider before calling it a day: rating the book. In this optional step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the benefits and methods of assigning a rating to the book you’ve reviewed.

Why Rate the Book?

Sometimes, when writing a professional book review, it may not be appropriate to state whether you liked or disliked the book. In such cases, assigning a rating can be an effective way to get your message across without explicitly sharing your personal opinion.

How to Rate the Book

There are various rating systems you can use to evaluate the book, such as:

  • A star rating (e.g., 1 to 5 stars)
  • A numerical score (e.g., 1 to 10)
  • A letter grade (e.g., A+ to F)

Choose a rating system that best suits your style and the format of your review. Be consistent in your rating criteria, considering writing quality, character development, plot, and overall enjoyment.

Tips for Rating the Book

Here are some tips for rating the book effectively:

  • Be honest: Your rating should reflect your true feelings about the book. Don’t inflate or deflate your rating based on external factors, such as the book’s popularity or the author’s reputation.
  • Be fair:Consider the book’s merits and shortcomings when rating. Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, recognize its strengths and acknowledge them in your rating.
  • Be clear: Explain the rationale behind your rating so your readers understand the factors that influenced your evaluation.

Wrapping Up

By including a rating in your book review, you provide your readers with an additional insight into your thoughts on the book. While this step is optional, it can be a valuable tool for conveying your message subtly yet effectively. So, rate those books confidently, adding a touch of wit and wisdom to your book reviews.

Additional Tips on How to Write a Book Review: A Guide

In this segment, we’ll explore additional tips on how to write a book review. Get ready to captivate your readers and make your review a memorable one!

Hook ’em with an Intriguing Introduction

Keep your introduction precise and to the point. Readers have the attention span of a goldfish these days, so don’t let them swim away in boredom. Start with a bang and keep them hooked!

Embrace the World of Fiction

When learning how to write a book review, remember that reviewing fiction is often more engaging and effective. If your professor hasn’t assigned you a specific book, dive into the realm of fiction and select a novel that piques your interest.

Opinionated with Gusto

Don’t shy away from adding your own opinion to your review. A good book review always features the writer’s viewpoint and constructive criticism. After all, your readers want to know what  you  think!

Express Your Love (or Lack Thereof)

If you adored the book, let your readers know! Use phrases like “I’ll definitely return to this book again” to convey your enthusiasm. Conversely, be honest but respectful even if the book wasn’t your cup of tea.

Templates and Examples and Expert Help: Your Trusty Sidekicks

Feeling lost? You can always get help from formats, book review examples or online  college paper writing service  platforms. These trusty sidekicks will help you navigate the world of book reviews with ease. 

Be a Champion for New Writers and Literature

Remember to uplift new writers and pieces of literature. If you want to suggest improvements, do so kindly and constructively. There’s no need to be mean about anyone’s books – we’re all in this literary adventure together!

Criticize with Clarity, Not Cruelty

When adding criticism to your review, be clear but not mean. Remember, there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and cruelty. Tread lightly and keep your reader’s feelings in mind.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

Resist the urge to compare one writer’s book with another. Every book holds its worth, and comparing them will only confuse your reader. Stick to discussing the book at hand, and let it shine in its own light.

Top 7 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Writing a book review can be a delightful and rewarding experience, especially when you balance analysis, wit, and personal insights. However, some common mistakes can kill the brilliance of your review. 

In this section of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the top 7 blunders writers commit and how to steer clear of them, with a dash of  modernist literature  examples and tips for students writing book reviews as assignments.

Succumbing to the Lure of Plot Summaries

Mistake: Diving headfirst into a plot summary instead of dissecting the book’s themes, characters, and writing style.

Example: “The Bell Jar chronicles the life of a young woman who experiences a mental breakdown.”

How to Avoid: Delve into the book’s deeper aspects, such as its portrayal of mental health, societal expectations, and the author’s distinctive narrative voice. Offer thoughtful insights and reflections, making your review a treasure trove of analysis.

Unleashing the Spoiler Kraken

Mistake: Spilling major plot twists or the ending without providing a spoiler warning, effectively ruining the reading experience for potential readers.

Example: “In Metamorphosis, the protagonist’s transformation into a monstrous insect leads to…”

How to Avoid: Tread carefully when discussing significant plot developments, and consider using spoiler warnings. Focus on the impact of these plot points on the overall narrative, character growth, or thematic resonance.

Riding the Personal Bias Express

Mistake: Allowing personal bias to hijack the review without providing sufficient evidence or reasoning to support opinions.

Example: “I detest books about existential crises, so The Sun Also Rises was a snoozefest.”

How to Avoid: While personal opinions are valid, it’s crucial to back them up with specific examples from the book. Discuss aspects like writing style, character development, or pacing to support your evaluation and provide a more balanced perspective.

Wielding the Vague Language Saber

Mistake: Resorting to generic, vague language that fails to capture the nuances of the book and can come across as clichéd.

Example: “This book was mind-blowing. It’s a must-read for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Use precise and descriptive language to express your thoughts. Employ specific examples and quotations to highlight memorable scenes, the author’s unique writing style, or the impact of the book’s themes on readers.

Ignoring the Contextualization Compass

Mistake: Neglecting to provide context about the author, genre, or cultural relevance of the book, leaving readers without a proper frame of reference.

Example: “This book is dull and unoriginal.”

How to Avoid: Offer readers a broader understanding by discussing the author’s background, the genre conventions the book adheres to or subverts, and any societal or historical contexts that inform the narrative. This helps readers appreciate the book’s uniqueness and relevance.

Overindulging in Personal Preferences

Mistake: Letting personal preferences overshadow an objective assessment of the book’s merits.

Example: “I don’t like stream-of-consciousness writing, so this book is automatically bad.”

How to Avoid: Acknowledge personal preferences but strive to evaluate the book objectively. Focus on the book’s strengths and weaknesses, considering how well it achieves its goals within its genre or intended audience.

Forgetting the Target Audience Telescope

Mistake: Failing to mention the book’s target audience or who might enjoy it, leading to confusion for potential readers.

Example: “This book is great for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Contemplate the book’s intended audience, genre, and themes. Mention who might particularly enjoy the book based on these factors, whether it’s fans of a specific genre, readers interested in character-driven stories, or those seeking thought-provoking narratives.

By dodging these common pitfalls, writers can craft insightful, balanced, and engaging book reviews that help readers make informed decisions about their reading choices.

These tips are particularly beneficial for students writing book reviews as assignments, as they ensure a well-rounded and thoughtful analysis.!

Many students requested us to cover how to write a book review. This thorough guide is sure to help you. At Paperperk, professionals are dedicated to helping students find their balance. We understand the importance of good grades, so we offer the finest writing service , ensuring students stay ahead of the curve. So seek expert help because only Paperperk is your perfect solution!

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Writing a Book Review

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

This resource discusses book reviews and how to write them.

Book reviews typically evaluate recently-written works. They offer a brief description of the text’s key points and often provide a short appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the work.

Readers sometimes confuse book reviews with book reports, but the two are not identical. Book reports commonly describe what happens in a work; their focus is primarily on giving an account of the major plot, characters, and/or main idea of the work. Most often, book reports are a K-12 assignment and range from 250 to 500 words. If you are looking to write a book report, please see the OWL resource, Writing a Book Report.

By contrast, book reviews are most often a college assignment, but they also appear in many professional works: magazines, newspapers, and academic journals. They typically range from 500-750 words, but may be longer or shorter. A book review gives readers a sneak peek at what a book is like, whether or not the reviewer enjoyed it, and details on purchasing the book.

Before You Read

Before you begin to read, consider the elements you will need to included in your review. The following items may help:

  • Author: Who is the author? What else has s/he written? Has this author won any awards? What is the author’s typical style?
  • Genre: What type of book is this: fiction, nonfiction, romance, poetry, youth fiction, etc.? Who is the intended audience for this work? What is the purpose of the work?
  • Title: Where does the title fit in? How is it applied in the work? Does it adequately encapsulate the message of the text? Is it interesting? Uninteresting?
  • Preface/Introduction/Table of Contents: Does the author provide any revealing information about the text in the preface/introduction? Does a “guest author” provide the introduction? What judgments or preconceptions do the author and/or “guest author” provide? How is the book arranged: sections, chapters?
  • Book Jacket/Cover/Printing: Book jackets are like mini-reviews. Does the book jacket provide any interesting details or spark your interest in some way? Are there pictures, maps, or graphs? Do the binding, page cut, or typescript contribute or take away from the work?

As You Read

As you read, determine how you will structure the summary portion or background structure of your review. Be ready to take notes on the book’s key points, characters, and/or themes.

  • Characters: Are there characters in the work? Who are the principal characters? How do they affect the story? Do you empathize with them?
  • Themes/Motifs/Style: What themes or motifs stand out? How do they contribute to the work? Are they effective or not? How would you describe this author’s particular style? Is it accessible to all readers or just some?
  • Argument: How is the work’s argument set up? What support does the author give for her/findings? Does the work fulfill its purpose/support its argument?
  • Key Ideas: What is the main idea of the work? What makes it good, different, or groundbreaking?
  • Quotes: What quotes stand out? How can you demonstrate the author’s talent or the feel of the book through a quote?

When You Are Ready to Write

Begin with a short summary or background of the work, but do not give too much away. Many reviews limit themselves only to the first couple of chapters or lead the reader up to the rising action of the work. Reviewers of nonfiction texts will provide the basic idea of the book’s argument without too much detailed.

The final portion of your review will detail your opinion of the work. When you are ready to begin your review, consider the following:

  • Establish a Background, Remember your Audience: Remember that your audience has not read the work; with this in mind, be sure to introduce characters and principles carefully and deliberately. What kind of summary can you provide of the main points or main characters that will help your readers gauge their interest? Does the author’s text adequately reach the intended audience? Will some readers be lost or find the text too easy?
  • Minor principles/characters: Deal only with the most pressing issues in the book. You will not be able to cover every character or idea. What principles/characters did you agree or disagree with? What other things might the author have researched or considered?
  • Organize: The purpose of the review is to critically evaluate the text, not just inform the readers about it. Leave plenty room for your evaluation by ensuring that your summary is brief. Determine what kind of balance to strike between your summary information and your evaluation. If you are writing your review for a class, ask your instructor. Often the ratio is half and half.
  • Your Evaluation: Choose one or a few points to discuss about the book. What worked well for you? How does this work compare with others by the same author or other books in the same genre? What major themes, motifs, or terms does the book introduce, and how effective are they? Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?
  • Publisher/Price: Most book reviews include the publisher and price of the book at the end of the article. Some reviews also include the year published and ISBN.

When making the final touches to your review, carefully verify the following:

  • Double-check the spelling of the author name(s), character names, special terms, and publisher.
  • Try to read from the vantage point of your audience. Is there too much/enough summary? Does your argument about the text make sense?
  • Should you include direct quotes from the reading? Do they help support your arguments? Double-check your quotes for accuracy.

how to write a book review for high school students

How To Write A Book Review: 6 Steps To Take

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Adiba Jaigirdar

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter:  @adiba_j

View All posts by Adiba Jaigirdar

Whether you’re a student, a novice blogger, or just someone looking to become a more active user of Goodreads, writing a book review is an important skill to have! Here are six steps for how to write a book review for school and beyond. 

How To Write A Book Review in 6 Steps

1. Begin with a brief summary of the book

This is probably the best way to introduce any review because it gives context. But make sure to not go into too much detail. Keep it short and sweet since an official summary can be found through a quick google search!

2. Pick out the most important aspects of the book

I usually break this down with character, world-building, themes, and plot. But this might vary between books, genres, and your tastes!

Dedicate a paragraph to each of these important aspects, discussing how well the author dealt with it, along with what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.

3. Include brief quotes as examples

Including quotes is always a great idea, because it gives examples for everything that you’re saying! If your review talks about a character being particularly witty, a witty line from the character lets your readers see exactly what kind of witty character you’re dealing with here.

But be careful: lengthy quotes can take up big chunks of space and overpower your review. Short quotes will usually get your points across while letting your work shine through.

4. Write a conclusion that summarises everything

Like your introduction, keep your conclusion short and sweet! It should bring up the main points of your review, along with your overall opinion of the book.

5. Find similar books

A great way to wrap up a review is to find similar books to the one you’re reviewing. So you can say, “if you were a fan of X book, I think you’ll definitely like this one!”

You can also be more specific, looking at the exact things that might make two books similar. So you can suggest something like…“if you liked that the main character in X book was a kick-ass superhero, then you’ll love the main character of this book!”

6. Give it a star rating

A star rating is obviously encouraged in a lot of review sites, but they’re not necessary! If you do want to give a star rating, you can go the conventional “out of five/ten” route. You could also try something slightly less conventional, and break down your star-rating into different categories for character/plot/world-building, etc.

Now go forth and review! And share any tips you have for how to write a book review in the comments.

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how to write a book review for high school students

Book reports may be a staple of elementary and middle school education, but they are far less frequently assigned in the higher grades. High school ELA teacher Nancy Barile thinks that should change. Students in 6th grade and above can learn a lot when they are challenged to use higher order thinking skills to understand and interpret the literature they read via a good old-fashioned high school book report template. 

To start, Barile recommends that students choose the books they want to write about themselves—with teacher approval, of course. See the book list at the end of this article for engaging young adult titles and book report ideas, including books with thematic elements that are particularly appealing to older readers. 

Writing the Report

To structure the book reports, Barile recommends eight sections of analysis that will “require students to provide evidence of their choices and reasoning, which helps them think more deeply about what they have read.” For each section, students should give examples from the book to back up their analysis. The below book report template can help. 

If your students need to review the elements of fiction before beginning this assignment, Teaching Powerful Writing is a great resource. This collection of personal narratives and writing activities highlights different writing techniques and covers literary elements such as voice, using flashback, and point of view.

Book Report Breakdown

Students should identify the setting of the novel and explain why the setting is important.

  • How are the time and place significant to the events of the story?
  • How does the setting contribute to the overall meaning of the novel? 

2. CHARACTERIZATION

Beginning with the protagonist and then moving on to the supporting characters, students should discuss the characterizations in their novel. 

  • Is the character well-developed, or are they a stock or stereotypical character? 
  • Is the character static (unchanging throughout the story) or dynamic (changes by the end of the novel)? 
  • What personality traits does the character possess, and how does this affect the outcome of the novel? 
  • Do the character's inner thoughts and feelings reflect their outward actions? Explain. 

3. POINT OF VIEW

Students should identify the novel’s point of view and why it is significant.

  • What advantages does telling the story in (first person/second person/third person) have? Why?
  • Why do you think the author chose this point of view? 

4. CONFLICT

What is the primary conflict in the novel? Is it human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. society, or human vs. themselves? Your students should delve into conflict much more deeply than they may have in the past. If their story has more than one major conflict, they should detail the additional conflicts as well.

  • Explain the conflict and how the protagonist deals with it. 
  • Does the protagonist overcome the conflict? Or do they succumb to it?

Students should identify the theme of the novel and the specific meaning of the book they chose. They should avoid stock themes such as “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and think more critically on their author’s message.

  • What was the author’s purpose in writing the book?

What are the symbols in the novel and how are they significant?

  • How do the symbols help develop the story and contribute to the overall meaning of the book?

7. FORESHADOWING

Students should identify the foreshadowing in their novel and give examples from the text.

  • Did you know what was going to come? Why? 
  • Were there any hints as to what might occur? 
  • Why do you think the author chose to use or not use foreshadowing? 

Finally, students should evaluate the ending of the book.

  • Was the ending justified? (Was the ending viable and believable?) 
  • Was it a satisfactory ending that fit the rest of the novel? 
  • Was there a catharsis of some kind? Explain.

If your students follow this structure in their book report, it will help them explore each of the elements of fiction in a very specific way. As Barile discovered in her decades of teaching: “Students who explain, interpret, and synthesize what they have read gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of literature.”

Shop great classroom titles for book reports below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store .

The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

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The only book review templates you'll ever need.

The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

Whether you’re trying to become a book reviewer , writing a book report for school, or analyzing a book, it’s nice to follow a book review template to make sure that your thoughts are clearly presented. 

A quality template provides guidance to keep your mind sharp and your thoughts organized so that you can write the best book review possible. On Reedsy Discovery , we read and share a lot of book reviews, which helps us develop quite a clear idea what makes up a good one. With that in mind, we’ve put together some trustworthy book review templates that you can download, along with a quick run-through of all the parts that make up an outstanding review — all in this post! 

Pro-tip : But wait! How are you sure if you should become a book reviewer in the first place? If you're on the fence, or curious about your match with a book reviewing career, take our quick quiz:

Should you become a book reviewer?

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Book review templates for every type of review

With the rapid growth of the book community on Instagram, Youtube, and even TikTok, the world of book commentary has evolved far beyond your classic review. There are now many ways you can structure a book review. Some popular formats include:

  • Book reports — often done for school assignments; 
  • Commentary articles — think in-depth reviews in magazines and newspapers; 
  • Book blog reviews — short personal essays about the book; and
  • Instagram reviews — one or two-paragraph reviews captioned under a nice photo. 

But while the text in all these review styles can be organized in different ways, there are certain boxes that all good book reviews tick. So, instead of giving you various templates to use for different occasions, we’ve condensed it down to just two book review templates (one for fiction and one for nonfiction) that can guide your thoughts and help you nail just about any review. 

how to write a book review for high school students

⭐ Download our free fiction book review template  

⭐ Download our free nonfiction book review template  

All you need to do is answer the questions in the template regarding the book you’re reading and you’ve got the content of your review covered. Once that’s done, you can easily put this content into its appropriate format. 

Now, if you’re curious about what constitutes a good book review template, we’ll explain it in the following section! 

Elements of a book review template

Say you want to build your own book review template, or you want to customize our templates — here are the elements you’ll want to consider. 

We’ve divided our breakdown of the elements into two categories: the essentials and the fun additions that’ll add some color to your book reviews.

What are the three main parts of a book review?

We covered this in detail (with the help of some stellar examples) in our post on how to write a book review , but basically, these are the three crucial elements you should know: 

The summary covers the premise of the book and its main theme, so readers are able to understand what you’re referring to in the rest of your review. This means that, if a person hasn’t read the book, they can go through the summary to get a quick idea of what it’s about. (As such, there should be no spoilers!) 

The analysis is where, if it’s a fiction book, you talk more about the book, its plot, theme, and characters. If it’s nonfiction, you have to consider whether the book effectively achieves what it set out to do. 

The recommendation is where your personal opinion comes in the strongest, and you give a verdict as to who you think might enjoy this book. 

You can choose to be brief or detailed, depending on the kind of review you’re writing, but you should always aim to cover these three points. If you’re needing some inspiration, check out these 17 book review examples as seen in magazines, blogs, and review communities like Reedsy Discovery for a little variation. 

Which review community should you join?

Find out which review community is best for your style. Takes 30 seconds!

Which additional details can you include?

Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you can jazz things up a little and add some personal flavor to your book review by considering some of these elements:

  • A star-rating (the default is five stars but you can create your own scales); 
  • A bullet-point pros and cons list; 
  • Your favorite quotation from the book; 
  • Commentary on the format you read (i.e., ebook, print, or audiobook);
  • Fun facts about the book or author; 
  • Other titles you think are similar.

This is where you can really be creative and tailor your review to suit your purpose and audience. A formal review written for a magazine, for instance, will likely benefit from contextual information about the author and the book, along with some comment on how that might have affected the reading (or even writing) process.

Meanwhile, if you’re reviewing a book on social media, you might find bullet points more effective at capturing the fleeting attention of Internet users. You can also make videos, take creative pictures, or even add your own illustrations for more personal touches. The floor is yours at this point, so go ahead and take the spotlight! 

That said, we hope that our templates can provide you with a strong foundation for even your most adventurous reviews. And if you’re interested in writing editorial reviews for up-and-coming indie titles, register as a reviewer on Reedsy Discovery !

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How to Write a Book Report

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Book Report Fundamentals

Preparing to write, an overview of the book report format, how to write the main body of a book report, how to write a conclusion to a book report, reading comprehension and book reports, book report resources for teachers .

Book reports remain a key educational assessment tool from elementary school through college. Sitting down to close read and critique texts for their content and form is a lifelong skill, one that benefits all of us well beyond our school years. With the help of this guide, you’ll develop your reading comprehension and note-taking skills. You’ll also find resources to guide you through the process of writing a book report, step-by-step, from choosing a book and reading actively to revising your work. Resources for teachers are also included, from creative assignment ideas to sample rubrics.

Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged. Differences also exist between book reports and book reviews, who do not share the same intent and audience. Here, you’ll learn the basics of what a book report is and is not.

What Is a Book Report?

"Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

This article, written by a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English, describes the defining characteristics of book reports and offers observations on how they are composed.

"Writing a Book Report" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab outlines the steps in writing a book report, from keeping track of major characters as you read to providing adequate summary material.

"How to Write a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

This article provides another helpful guide to writing a book report, offering suggestions on taking notes and writing an outline before drafting. 

"How to Write a Successful Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

Another post from ThoughtCo., this article highlights the ten steps for book report success. It was written by an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and an Essay?

"Differences Between a Book Report & Essay Writing" ( Classroom)

In this article from the education resource Classroom,  you'll learn the differences and similarities between book reports and essay writing.

"Differences Between a Book Report and Essay Writing" (SeattlePi.com)

In this post from a Seattle newspaper's website, memoirist Christopher Cascio highlights how book report and essay writing differ.

"The Difference Between Essays and Reports" (Solent Online Learning)

This PDF from Southampton Solent University includes a chart demonstrating the differences between essays and reports. Though it is geared toward university students, it will help students of all levels understand the differing purposes of reports and analytical essays.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and a Book Review?

"How to Write a Book Review and a Book Report" (Concordia Univ.)

The library at Concordia University offers this helpful guide to writing book report and book reviews. It defines differences between the two, then presents components that both forms share.

"Book Reviews" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing guide shows the step-by-step process of writing book reviews, offering a contrast to the composition of book reports.

Active reading and thoughtful preparation before you begin your book report are necessary components of crafting a successful piece of writing. Here, you’ll find tips and resources to help you learn how to select the right book, decide which format is best for your report, and outline your main points.

Selecting and Finding a Book

"30 Best Books for Elementary Readers" (Education.com)

This article from Education.com lists 30 engaging books for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was written by Esme Raji Codell, a teacher, author, and children's literature specialist.

"How to Choose a Good Book for a Report (Middle School)" (WikiHow)

This WikiHow article offers suggestions for middle schoolers on how to choose the right book for a report, from getting started early on the search process to making sure you understand the assignment's requirements.

"Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers" (Common Sense Media)

Common Sense Media has compiled this list of 25 of the best books for middle school book reports. For younger students, the article suggests you check out the site's "50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12."

"50 Books to Read in High School" (Lexington Public Library)

The Lexington, Kentucky Public Library has prepared this list to inspire high school students to choose the right book. It includes both classics and more modern favorites.

The Online Computer Library Center's catalogue helps you locate books in libraries near you, having itemized the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.

Formats of Book Reports

"Format for Writing a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

Here, Your Dictionary supplies guidelines for the basic book report format. It describes what you'll want to include in the heading, and what information to include in the introductory paragraph. Be sure to check these guidelines against your teacher's requirements.

"The Good Old Book Report" (Scholastic)

Nancy Barile’s blog post for Scholastic lists the questions students from middle through high school should address in their book reports.

How to Write an Outline

"Writer’s Web: Creating Outlines" (Univ. of Richmond)

The University of Richmond’s Writing Center shows how you can make use of micro and macro outlines to organize your argument.

"Why and How to Create a Useful Outline" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab demonstrates how outlines can help you organize your report, then teaches you how to create outlines.

"Creating an Outline" (EasyBib)

EasyBib, a website that generates bibliographies, offers sample outlines and tips for creating your own. The article encourages you to think about transitions and grouping your notes.

"How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts" (Grammarly)

This blog post from a professional writer explains the advantages of using an outline, and presents different ways to gather your thoughts before writing.

In this section, you’ll find resources that offer an overview of how to write a book report, including first steps in preparing the introduction. A good book report's introduction hooks the reader with strong opening sentences and provides a preview of where the report is going.

"Step-by-Step Outline for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This article from Classroom furnishes students with a guide to the stages of writing a book report, from writing the rough draft to revising.

"Your Roadmap to a Better Book Report" ( Time4Writing )

Time4Writing offers tips for outlining your book report, and describes all of the information that the introduction, body, and conclusion should include.

"How to Start a Book Report" ( ThoughtCo)

This ThoughtCo. post, another by academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, demonstrates how to write a pithy introduction to your book report.

"How to Write an Introduction for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief but helpful post from Classroom  details what makes a good book report introduction, down to the level of individual sentences.

The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.

Plot Summary and Description

"How Do You Write a Plot Summary?" ( Reference )

This short article presents the goals of writing a plot summary, and suggests a word limit. It emphasizes that you should stick to the main points and avoid including too many specific details, such as what a particular character wears.

"How to Write a Plot for a Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

In this article from a resource website for writers, Patricia Harrelson outlines what information to include in a plot summary for a book report. 

"How to Write a Book Summary" (WikiHow)

Using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example, this WikiHow article demonstrates how to write a plot summary one step at a time.

Analyzing Characters and Themes

"How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kristine Tucker shows how to write a book report focusing on character. You can take her suggestions as they are, or consider  incorporating them into the more traditional book report format.

"How to Write a Character Analysis" (YouTube)

The SixMinuteScholar Channel utilizes analysis of the film  Finding Nemo to show you how to delve deeply into character, prioritizing inference over judgment.

"How to Define Theme" ( The Editor's Blog )

Fiction editor Beth Hill contributes an extended definition of theme. She also provides examples of common themes, such as "life is fragile."

"How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story" ( ThoughtCo )

This blog post from ThoughtCo. clarifies the definition of theme in relation to symbolism, plot, and moral. It also offers examples of themes in literature, such as love, death, and good vs. evil.

Selecting and Integrating Quotations

"How to Choose and Use Quotations" (Santa Barbara City College)

This guide from a college writing center will help you choose which quotations to use in your book report, and how to blend quotations with your own words.

"Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes" (Ashford Univ.)

This PDF from Ashford University's Writing Center introduces the ICE method for incorporating quotations: introduce, cite, explain.

"Quote Integration" (YouTube)

This video from The Write Way YouTube channel illustrates how to integrate quotations into writing, and also explains how to cite those quotations.

"Using Literary Quotations" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)

This guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center helps you emphasize your analysis of a quotation, and explains how to incorporate quotations into your text.

Conclusions to any type of paper are notoriously tricky to write. Here, you’ll learn some creative ways to tie up loose ends in your report and express your own opinion of the book you read. This open space for sharing opinions that are not grounded in critical research is an element that often distinguishes book reports from other types of writing.

"How to Write a Conclusion for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief article from the education resource  Classroom illustrates the essential points you should make in a book report conclusion.

"Conclusions" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center lays out strategies for writing effective conclusions. Though the article is geared toward analytical essay conclusions, the tips offered here will also help you write a strong book report.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Pat Bellanca’s article for Harvard University’s Writing Center presents ways to conclude essays, along with tips. Again, these are suggestions for concluding analytical essays that can also be used to tie up a book report's loose ends.

Reading closely and in an engaged manner is the strong foundation upon which all good book reports are built. The resources below will give you a picture of what active reading looks like, and offer strategies to assess and improve your reading comprehension. Further, you’ll learn how to take notes—or “annotate” your text—making it easier to find important information as you write.

How to Be an Active Reader

"Active Reading Strategies: Remember and Analyze What You Read" (Princeton Univ.)

Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning recommends ten strategies for active reading, and includes sample diagrams.

"Active Reading" (Open Univ.)

The Open University offers these techniques for reading actively alongside video examples. The author emphasizes that you should read for comprehension—not simply to finish the book as quickly as possible.

"7 Active Reading Strategies for Students" ( ThoughtCo )

In this post, Grace Fleming outlines seven methods for active reading. Her suggestions include identifying unfamiliar words and finding the main idea. 

"5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments" (YouTube)

Thomas Frank’s seven-minute video demonstrates how you can retain the most important information from long and dense reading material.

Assessing Your Reading Comprehension

"Macmillan Readers Level Test" (MacMillan)

Take this online, interactive test from a publishing company to find out your reading level. You'll be asked a number of questions related to grammar and vocabulary.

"Reading Comprehension Practice Test" (ACCUPLACER)

ACCUPLACER is a placement test from The College Board. This 20-question practice test will help you see what information you retain after reading short passages.

"Reading Comprehension" ( English Maven )

The English Maven site has aggregated exercises and tests at various reading levels so you can quiz your reading comprehension skills.

How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

"5 Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension" ( ThoughtCo )

ThoughtCo. recommends five tips to increase your reading comprehension ability, including reading with tools such as highlighters, and developing new vocabulary.

"How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips" (PrepScholar)

This blog post from PrepScholar provides ideas for improving your reading comprehension, from expanding your vocabulary to discussing texts with friends.

CrashCourse video: "Reading Assignments" (YouTube)

This CrashCourse video equips you with tools to read more effectively. It will help you determine how much material you need to read, and what strategies you can use to absorb what you read.

"Improving Reading Comprehension" ( Education Corner )

From a pre-reading survey through post-reading review, Education Corner  walks you through steps to improve reading comprehension.

Methods of In-text Annotation

"The Writing Process: Annotating a Text" (Hunter College)

This article from Hunter College’s Rockowitz Writing Center outlines how to take notes on a text and provides samples of annotation.

"How To Annotate Text While Reading" (YouTube)

This video from the SchoolHabits YouTube channel presents eleven annotation techniques you can use for better reading comprehension.

"5 Ways To Annotate Your Books" ( Book Riot )

This article from the Book Riot  blog highlights five efficient annotation methods that will save you time and protect your books from becoming cluttered with unnecessary markings.

"How Do You Annotate Your Books?" ( Epic Reads )

This post from Epic Reads highlights how different annotation methods work for different people, and showcases classic methods from sticky notes to keeping a reading notebook.

Students at every grade level can benefit from writing book reports, which sharpen critical reading skills. Here, we've aggregated sources to help you plan book report assignments and develop rubrics for written and oral book reports. You’ll also find alternative book report assessment ideas that move beyond the traditional formats.

Teaching Elementary School Students How to Write Book Reports

"Book Reports" ( Unique Teaching Resources )

These reading templates courtesy of Unique Teaching Resources make great visual aids for elementary school students writing their first book reports.

"Elementary Level Book Report Template" ( Teach Beside Me )

This   printable book report template from a teacher-turned-homeschooler is simple, classic, and effective. It asks basic questions, such as "who are the main characters?" and "how did you feel about the main characters?"

"Book Reports" ( ABC Teach )

ABC Teach ’s resource directory includes printables for book reports on various subjects at different grade levels, such as a middle school biography book report form and a "retelling a story" elementary book report template.

"Reading Worksheets" ( Busy Teacher's Cafe )

This page from Busy Teachers’ Cafe contains book report templates alongside reading comprehension and other language arts worksheets.

Teaching Middle School and High School Students How to Write Book Reports

"How to Write a Book Report: Middle and High School Level" ( Fact Monster)

Fact Monster ’s Homework Center discusses each section of a book report, and explains how to evaluate and analyze books based on genre for students in middle and high school.

"Middle School Outline Template for Book Report" (Trinity Catholic School)

This PDF outline template breaks the book report down into manageable sections for seventh and eighth graders by asking for specific information in each paragraph.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( Classroom )

In this article for Classroom,  Elizabeth Thomas describes what content high schoolers should focus on when writing their book reports.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kori Morgan outlines techniques for adapting the book report assignment to the high school level in this post for The Pen & The Pad .

"High School Book Lists and Report Guidelines" (Highland Hall Waldorf School)

These sample report formats, grading paradigms, and tips are collected by Highland Hall Waldorf School. Attached are book lists by high school grade level.

Sample Rubrics

"Book Review Rubric Editable" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This free resource from Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to edit your book report rubric to the specifications of your assignment and the grade level you teach.

"Book Review Rubric" (Winton Woods)

This PDF rubric from a city school district includes directions to take the assignment long-term, with follow-up exercises through school quarters.

"Multimedia Book Report Rubric" ( Midlink Magazine )

Perfect for oral book reports, this PDF rubric from North Carolina State University's Midlink Magazine  will help you evaluate your students’ spoken presentations.

Creative Book Report Assignments

"25 Book Report Alternatives" (Scholastic)

This article from the Scholastic website lists creative alternatives to the standard book report for pre-kindergarteners through high schoolers.

"Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports" ( Education World )

Education World offers nearly 50 alternative book report ideas in this article, from a book report sandwich to a character trait diagram.

"A Dozen Ways to Make Amazingly Creative Book Reports" ( We Are Teachers )

This post from We Are Teachers puts the spotlight on integrating visual arts into literary study through multimedia book report ideas.

"More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Use for Book Reports" (Teachnet.com)

This list from Teachnet.com includes over 300 ideas for book report assignments, from "interviewing" a character to preparing a travel brochure to the location in which the book is set.

"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report" (National Council of Teachers of English)

In this PDF resource from the NCTE's  English Journal,  Diana Mitchell offers assignment ideas ranging from character astrology signs to a character alphabet.

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Book Review Template

Book Review Template

About this printout

Students can use this template as a means of communicating about a book that they have read.

Teaching with this printout

More ideas to try.

As students begin reading books at a young age, it is important to teach them to communicate their thoughts and ideas about the books they read.  This template is a good way to teach students to begin putting their thoughts on a text into written form.  Students will be able to process the information they read in a given text and process their ideas.  Additionally, the Book Review Template allows the teacher to check a student's comprehension of a certain text to assess and inform instruction.

  • Create a bulletin board with book reviews done by different students.  The bulletin board can be organized by different genres of books or in other ways that are useful to students. Students can use this bulletin board as a way to read about their peers' thoughts on different books and to find books that they, too, might enjoy reading. 
  • At the beginning of the school year, do a read aloud and have students each do a book review on the same book that was read to the class. Have select students share their book reviews and/or thoughts on a book.  Follow up by having a class discussion about why all of the book reviews are not alike, even though they were done on the same book.  This discussion will familiarize students with different opinions and thoughts on the same books, and will also give struggling students a more concrete idea of how to do future book reviews on their own.
  • Print this resource

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High School Book Report: Template, Format, & Tips

This article will explain how to write a book report in the most effective way. You will learn the correct high school book report format and get some free writing tips. Besides, we have included a downloadable template to simplify the writing process.

  • 📒 The Basics
  • 🔰 Book Report Format
  • 📑 Book Report Template
  • ✍ Writing Tips
  • 📖 Book Report Examples

🔗 References

How can a teacher check if students have read the book? They ask to write a book report. The assignment is an extended summary of the book. However, high school book reports are usually more complicated. They require you to evaluate the piece of writing, reflect on it, or answer some questions.

The picture lists the three types of a book report.

📒 High School Book Report: The Key Features

  • A high school book report is a standard high school assignment. Unfortunately, it is not a real-world writing task because you will never write anything similar outside your school.
  • There are three types of writing, depending on the book genre: nonfiction, biography, and fiction book reports.
  • It is a combination of facts and your feelings about them.
  • It is NOT a research paper , as it deals with one book individually, not a specific genre or author’s legacy. Neither should you dig into the author’s personality or lifeline.
  • It is NOT a book review, as it does not compare the writing with other books. Moreover, you are not supposed to recommend it expressly to other people.
  • It is NOT a critical essay because its purpose is not to evaluate but to report the key features (although you may include some evaluation).

🔰 High School Book Report Format

If you write a high school book report on a work of fiction, choose one of the following summarizing strategies:

  • In an action summary , list the most critical events in their sequence. This approach is the simplest. You can choose the events that you consider the most important.
  • To write a story pyramid , use the central plotline elements as a plan: exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action. You will require some knowledge of these literary elements.

To accelerate the writing of this section, you can use our Summarizer Tool . It will condense any lengthy text into a summary in a couple of seconds.

Theme and Character Analysis

A theme of a fictional book is its central topic or message . To know if you understood the theme correctly, check if it fits into one or two words: love, freedom, betrayal, social stereotypes, etc. A book can have several themes, but one is usually central. Highlight it, also mentioning the secondary themes.

The picture lists structural components of a book report.

A character analysis focuses on the principal traits of the main characters. Get the clues from what they say and do to other protagonists.

Tone & Setting

The tone of a book is the author’s feelings about something. Is it sarcastic, depressive, or optimistic? Try not to mix it with the mood, which means the book’s atmosphere.

To differentiate, here is the rule.

The tone equals how the author feels about the events. The mood equals how the reader feels about the same.

Time and place setting are the easiest things to define if you were attentive while reading the book. When did the events happen (a year or historical period), and where did they occur? Note that sometimes the time and setting can be fictional, i.e., not existing in reality.

Author & Publication Date

Specify the author’s full name and the book’s first publication date here. You can add the first publisher’s name.

The best strategy in this section is to select the quotes supporting the central theme you specified above. They will explain and illustrate the author’s key message. If you need to add some indirect quotes to your text, you might want to use our paraphrase generator .

📑 High School Book Report Template

To illustrate the slightly tricky format described above, we have prepared a high school book report template in PDF format. Feel free to download it and use it as a reference.

✍ Book Report Writing Tips

📖 high school book report examples.

Below you’ll find the links to a number of high school book report examples.

  • “Comfort Women” by Nora Keller
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Black Like Me”: book by John Griffin
  • “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
  • “Careless Lovers” by Edward Ravenscroft
  • “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright
  • “The Making of a Quagmire” by David Halberstam
  • “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens
  • “The Tale of Kieu” by Nguyen Du
  • Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”
  • ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift
  • “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles
  • “A Rose for Emily” Short Story by William Faulkner
  • The Play “Hamlet” by Shakespeare
  • “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath
  • “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

We hope that with the help of this article, your book report will take much less time. If you have already written the text and would like to listen to how it sounds, use our Text-to-Speech tool . It is always easier to “hear” your mistakes being read by another person.

❓ High School Book Report: FAQ

How to write a nonfiction book report.

  • Skip secondary details and irrelevant information.
  • Write all the book’s ideas in your own words.
  • Do not repeat yourself.
  • Structure your report according to the chronological order or the order of importance.
  • What would the author like you to remember after reading the book? It is exactly what you should include in the book report.

How to Write a Book Report on a Biography?

  • Are you supposed to focus on the protagonist’s character traits or their life story? Choose either option, depending on the assignment.
  • Divide the life of the protagonist into periods.
  • Characterize each period and mention the critical events.
  • Explain how the biography explains the actual person’s worldview and accurately depicts the past.

How to Write a Book Report Without Reading the Book?

  • You’ll have to read the book’s beginning and end to get the central message.
  • Flip through the pages in search of some quotes evidencing the idea.
  • Keep your tone general, but include some specific details.
  • Use a summarizing tool.
  • Request academic assistance.

What are the 5 Parts of a Book Report?

Any book report should comprise:

  • theme and character analysis;
  • tone, time, and setting;
  • author’s full name and publication date;
  • best quotes.

Some assignments will require you to make a deeper analysis of the text, but this is a compulsory minimum.

  • Book reports | Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • How to write a book review and a book report · Help & how-to
  • How to Write a Book Report: Lesson for Kids – Study.com
  • Book Reviews – UNC Writing Center
  • Foolproof Guide to Writing a Book Review
  • What is a Book Review? – Definition & Examples – Study.com

How to Organize a Literature Review [in 30 Minutes or Less]: Outline & Tips

Writing an effective research proposal sample in 3 steps.

Book Review Writing

Book Review Examples

Cathy A.

Book Review Examples to Help You Get Started

Published on: May 25, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 16, 2023

Book Review Examples

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How to Write a Book Review - A Step By Step Guide

A Complete Book Review Format Guide For Students

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Are you in desperate need of some assistance to up your book review writing game? 

We know that penning down a review can come off as a tricky challenge, but do not worry!

To help you write book reviews that carry the essence of the book and engage readers, we have collected a handful of book review examples in this blog. 

The included examples will enable you to understand different writing styles and approaches taken toward book review writing . So, you can use your words effectively to craft the perfect book review.

Let’s kickstart things off!

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Good Book Review Examples for Students

You might be a professional writer, or you may not have any experience in writing book reviews. Rest assured, we’ll show you how to write perfect book reviews with the help of a sample template and great examples.

See this template to know what you should include in your book review: 

Book Review Template

Here is a good book review example for 4th-grade students:

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Book Review Examples for Middle School Students

Reading reviews written by others can help you get a feel and flavor of good book reviews. Learning how to write a perfect book review can help students to:

  • Critically analyze a text
  • Give a personal opinion on the text
  • Improve analyzing and critical thinking skills 

Here are some interesting book review examples suitable for middle school students. 

Book Review Example for Middle School Students

Book Review Example for Kids

Book Review of Any Book in 300 Words

Science Book Review Example

Book Review Examples For High School Students

Below, you can also find some good book review examples for high school students. These real-life examples can help you get a clear understanding of the standard book review format that you should follow.

Book Review Example for High School Students

Book Review Examples for Class 9

Book Review Example for Grade 10

Book Review Examples for College Students

As a college student, you are required to demonstrate that you have examined the book from different angles. The points you raise in your book review need to be supported with clear facts and evidence.

The following are some interesting critical book review examples for college students to learn how to write a perfect review. 

Book Review Example for Class 12

Short Book Review for Students

Conclusion of Book Review Example

Short Book Review Examples for Fiction Books

Fiction book reviews follow the same basic formula as writing book reviews of any other genre. For your help, we have compiled exciting examples of fiction book reviews that you can get valuable assistance from. 

Short Book Review Example for Fiction Books

Book Review of Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

“The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert is a work of fiction and falls into fantasy and young adult fiction genres. The novel revolves around fantastical fairy tales, and magical realism, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.

Here is an example of a comprehensive review of the book Hazel Wood:

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Non-Fiction Book Review Examples

For reviewing a non-fiction book, you are required to describe the book and summarize major points of interest. You should evaluate the author’s contribution to a subject that you may know very little about.

Here is a great non-fiction book review example to help you come up with a critical perspective on a text. 

Non-Fiction Book Review Example

Hopefully, with the help of the above examples, you get a better idea of how to write a perfect book review.

To wrap it up, Writing a great book review is a tricky task, no matter if you are a high school, college, or university student. Book review writing might seem like a simple task, but it requires excellent analyzing and critical thinking skills.

But, not everyone can crack this task easily. They might need additional help from expert book review writers. That’s why our expert essay writing service offers professional book review writing help whenever you need it. 

Professional essay writers at MyPerfectWords.com can help you with all your academic requests within your specified timeline. Just contact our customer service and we’ll handle all your queries promptly.

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How To Write A Book Review: A Student Guide

  • What Is A Book Review?
  • How To Write A Book Review
  • Helpful Tips

If you’ve ever taken an English course or studied literature in any capacity, chances are you’re already very familiar with the idea of a book review. Maybe you’ve even written a book review or two throughout your academic career—hopefully after taking the time to actually read the book in question. 

But even with their ubiquity within classrooms around the world, the task of writing a book review can still be daunting. After all, you’re attempting to boil down an entire book into a few short paragraphs! That’s no easy feat. Before you get started on your review, you might be wondering: How much of the book’s plot do I actually need to summarize? Do I need to mention every character in the order that they appear in the story? And what does one talk about in a book review, anyway? 

Whether you’re writing a book review for school or just want some helpful tips to level up your Goodreads game, we’ll break down the different sections of a standard book review in this ultimate how-to guide.

What is a book review ?

A book review is a written evaluation of a book in any genre. Often around 500 to 1,000 words in length, book reviews provide a brief summary of the text, analyze its overall merit, and describe the reviewer’s personal opinions and reading experience. Think of it as a more nuanced way of recommending a favorite book— your review serves as your own individual stamp of approval.

If you’ve ever been assigned a book review in an academic setting, you already know that they’re meant to help students retain and further engage with their required reading. But book reviews can also appear outside of the classroom, too. Professional book critics, avid readers, and even bookish content creators may review a book for a major publication, for a personal blog, or on popular book reviewing websites like Goodreads and StoryGraph.

What is the difference between a book review and a book report ?

In casual conversation, one might use the terms “book review” and “book report” interchangeably. And while book reviews and book reports certainly share a few key similarities, there are some important differences that distinguish the two from an academic standpoint.

Often assigned to students in the K-12 age range, book reports give a strictly objective account of what happened in a book. Think major plot points, main characters, and big-picture ideas. They don’t often include the added elements of critical analysis and a subjective review, which is why they’re typically reserved for younger students with less experience with writing and literature.

Book reviews, on the other hand, are more than just a play-by-play of what happened; they require a higher level of critical thinking and engagement with the text. After providing a brief summary of the text, book reviews typically move into a deeper analysis of literary elements, which could include plot, characters, themes, or even the writing style itself. A book review also usually concludes with the reviewer’s personal thoughts, experience, rating, and recommendation (or non-recommendation) of the book. 

Get a better grasp on the nuances that set book reports apart from book reviews with this helpful article.

How to write a book review

Section 1: introduction.

To begin your book review, it’s a good idea to start with a compelling hook that captures your audience’s attention and encourages them to continue reading. Don’t give anything major away in these first few sentences—just focus on setting the tone, creating some intrigue, or presenting an interesting question. 

Example: With more than 300 million records sold worldwide and a career in music spanning over six decades, Elton John is easily one of the most prolific artists of all time. The singer’s official autobiography, aptly titled Me , gives readers an up-close-and-personal look at the man behind the music.

Section 2: Summary

Next, briefly recap the book you read with a high-level synopsis. Not only does this help clue your audience in on what the book is even about, but it also sets up your thoughts and opinions regarding the book with some important context.

For fiction book summaries, focus on plot points, primary and secondary characters, and overall themes—just be sure to leave out any big reveals and avoid discussing spoilers that could ruin someone’s reading experience. If you’re reviewing a nonfiction book, you can discuss the author’s main ideas, arguments, or thesis statements by section. Don’t forget to mention any essential information about the book in this section, which can include basics like the title, author, publication year, and whether or not it’s part of a series, for example. 

Example: Published in 2019 by Henry Holt & Co., Elton John’s personal memoir aims to capture as much of the British singer, pianist, and composer’s fascinating life as possible. The book begins by recounting John’s early childhood experiences growing up in the suburbs of London then moves into his rise to fame and continued success as a musician and producer today. 

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Section 3: Critical analysis

Once you’ve recapped the book and provided your audience with all of the need-to-know details, it’s time to dive a little deeper. The critical analysis section of your book review is where you can start to sprinkle in your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the text.

If you’re writing a book review in an academic setting or as an assignment for school, you may be required to write about specific literary elements within the text. (Be sure to refer back to your assignment’s instructions for more information!) But if you’ve got free range to write about anything and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few prompts to get your creative juices flowing: 

  • Characterization: Who are the primary characters, and how do they affect the story? Are they particularly likable or relatable? What do you think their individual arcs represent? 
  • Structure/form: How does structure play a role in storytelling? Does the author write in long, stream-of-consciousness paragraphs or short, quippy vignettes? Do you think the book would have benefited from a different structure? 
  • Writing style: How would you describe this author’s writing style? Is it accessible and conversational or rigid and academic? Does this writing style lend itself well to this specific story or genre? 
  • Themes & ideas: Can you easily identify the story’s main ideas or motifs? What do you think they represent? Are they effective? Why or why not?

Example: I found Elton John’s honesty, vulnerability, and conversational writing style incredibly refreshing as I read this book. It felt less like reading a nonfiction book and more like catching up with a friend. The singer doesn’t pull any punches as he shares everything from delightful anecdotes of his experience as a father to the heart-wrenching details of his struggle with drug addiction. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to live such a public life; I commend and admire John’s continued openness.

Section 4: Conclusion, personal recommendation, and rating (if applicable)

Finally, wrap up your book review by stating whether or not you personally recommend the book to your intended audience. Don’t throw your audience for a loop by bringing up anything new in this section. Your conclusion should be a natural progression from the previous sections—it’s the cherry on top, if you will.

Note: if you’re writing a book review for a school assignment, you may be able to skip this section based on your assignment’s directions. On the other hand, if you’re writing your review for your personal blog or on a popular bookish site like Goodreads or StoryGraph, it may be helpful to include a star rating, too.

Example: I highly recommend this book to longtime fans of Elton John and casual listeners alike. I grew up listening to Elton John’s greatest hits on the radio, and it was so interesting to learn more about his upbringing, creative inspiration, and life experiences in this book. 

Like book reviews and reports, the five-paragraph essay is a classic part of any student’s academic arsenal. Learn how to master it here!

Helpful tips for writing a book review

Read (and re-read) your assignment’s directions. Following your teacher or professor’s instructions is key to nailing a book review assignment in an academic setting. You may be required to follow a certain structure, hit a specified word count, or discuss certain literary devices in your review.

Take notes while you read. Especially when it comes to writing the summary portion of the book review, it can be helpful to actively take notes while you’re reading. Note-taking can help you focus on the main ideas and trace narrative through-lines while they’re fresh in your mind, rather than trying to remember every last detail after you’ve already finished the book. Plus, your notes will serve as a helpful cheat sheet to look back on in case you do end up forgetting something.

Remember to proofread! As with any piece of writing, it’s important to check your work for grammar errors, misspellings, and typos. You don’t want to lose credibility (or points on your grade) for silly mistakes. 

Don’t be too harsh. Even if you truly despised the book you read, it’s a good idea to write as if the author of the book might read your review one day. Jumping at the chance to tear down someone’s writing is unnecessary; keep your criticism constructive and remember that authors have feelings, too!

Roused by reading and want to write a book of your own? Check out some tips to get started.

how to write a book review for high school students

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Book Review Lesson Plan: Teach Students How to Write a Successful Book Report

Teaching students to write a book review.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I hit a snag around high school and college when it came to choosing books for reading pleasure. I started reading book reviews out of my People magazine and online to help narrow down my choices. Through reading reviews, I was introduced to some of my all-time favorite novels, like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Book reviews are a useful resource for reading fans, but can also be an alternative assessment tool for teachers.

Before students can write a book review, you must introduce them to professionally written pieces. Take them to the computer lab and go to sites that have notable book reviews, like the New York Times or Barnes and Noble Review. If you do not have access to the internet, you can always clip reviews from magazines, like People or from the newspaper. Read several reviews as a class and discuss the format reviewers use when writing about a book. Be sure to point out that reviews provide a general summary, name major characters, introduce the major conflicts in the story, and give either a positive, negative, or neutral opinion of the work. Good reviews will never reveal the resolution to the conflict, so encourage them to avoid giving away the ending!

I also use this time discuss how reviewing books, movies, and other media can easily turn into a profession. We discuss how writing and expressing one’s opinions clearly can benefit a future reviewer. Students are in awe at the many different types of reviewers that are in our mainstream media today. There are reviewers for video games, phone apps, computer software, as well as the typical book and movie reviewers. As a class we discuss how much fun a career in reviewing could bring to someone who has an avid interest in the subject matter they are critiquing. Tying a real-world application to the assignment helps middle school kids to see the answer to the eternal adolescent question, “Why do I need to know this” that every teacher seems to encounter on a daily (if not on a daily basis)!

How to Implement and Assess Student Reviews

Develop a structure for the book review, depending on the length you desire the review to be. I usually like students to implement the “Plot Pyramid” structure that they learn early on in the year, which follows the five steps of plot organization: Exposition, Conflict/Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action/denouement, and Resolution. Of course, I have them leave off resolution, so the ending to the novel is not revealed to the reader. This ends up being a four paragraph structure (minus the resolution), and then I have them add an “opinion paragraph” at the end of their plot assessment to make the structure a five-paragraph essay form.

If you have advanced students, or if you think your students are ready, you can also require quote integration into the article. Using the Quote Burger Method , assign students to integrate a certain number of quotes within their writing to bring a flavor and voice to the article that mirror’s the book. You will also be able to pick up on who actually read the book, and who is “writing blind”, based on the relevance of their quotes. At the end of the article, students can also rank the book on a four star system (one star being a horrible book and four stars being an awesome book). Students can draw the stars and color them in, or you can use clip art in Microsoft Word
.either way, assigning a star ranking adds visual appeal to their review and peaks student interest in the review.

  • Teacher experience.

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Book Review Writing

Introduction.

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:

  • "Full of action and complex characters"
  • "A nail-biter that will keep you up all night"
  • "Beautiful illustrations with a story to match"
  • "Perfect for animal lovers"

Weak titles may look like this:

  • "Really good book"
  • "Three stars"
  • "Pretty good"
  • "Quick read"

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:

  • Quote: A striking quote from the book ("It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.") can make for a powerful beginning. This quote begins George Orwell's novel 1984 .
  • Background: What makes this book important or interesting? Is the author famous? Is it a series? This is This is how Amazon introduces Divergent : "This first book in Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy is the novel the inspired the major motion picture."
  • Interesting Fact: For nonfiction books in particular, an interesting fact from the book may create a powerful opening for a review. In this review of The Middle East by Philip Steele, Zander H. of Mid-America Mensa asks, "Did you know that the Saudi Arabia's Rub' al-Khali desert reaches temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and plummets to the freezing point at night?"
  • Explanation of a term: If a word or phrase in the book or title is confusing or vitally important to understand, you may wish to begin the review explaining that term.

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

  • What kind of book is it? (Picture book? Historical fiction? Nonfiction? Fantasy? Adventure?)
  • Does the book belong to a series?
  • How long is the book? Is it an easy or a challenging read?
  • Is there anything that would be helpful for the reader to know about the author? For instance, is the author an expert in the field, the author of other popular books, or a first-time author?
  • How does the book compare to other books on the same topic or in the same genre?
  • Is the book written in a formal or informal style? Is the language remarkable in any way?
  • What ages is the book geared to?
  • Is the book written in normal prose? If it is written in poetic form, does it rhyme?

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:

  • Who are the main characters? Include the protagonist and antagonist.
  • What makes them interesting?
  • Do they act like real people act or are they too good or too evil to be believable?
  • Are they human?
  • What conflicts do they face?
  • Are they likeable or understandable?
  • How do they connect with each other?
  • Do they appear in other books?
  • Could you relate to any of the characters in the story?
  • What problems did the main characters face?
  • Who was your favorite character, and why?
  • We learn about characters from things they do and say, as well as things other characters say about them. You may wish to include examples of these things.

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:

  • Is the book set in the past, present or future?
  • Is it set in the world we know or is it a fantastical world?
  • Is it mostly realistic with elements of fantasy (animals that can talk, for example)?
  • Is the setting unclear and fuzzy, or can you easily make the movie in your mind?
  • How much does the author draw you into the setting and how does s/he accomplish that?

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:

  • Why do you think other readers would enjoy it? Why did you enjoy it (if you did) or why didn't you (if you didn't).
  • What ages or types of readers do you think would like the book?
  • How does it compare with other books that are in the same genre or by the same author?
  • Does the book engage your emotions? If a book made you laugh or cry or think about it for days, be sure to include that.
  • What do you like or dislike about the author's writing style? Is it funny? Is it hard to follow? Is it engaging and conversational in tone?
  • How well do you think the author achieved what s/he was going for in the writing of the book? Do you think you felt what the author was hoping you would feel?
  • Did the book feel complete, or did it feel as though key elements were left out?
  • How does the book compare to other books like it you've read?

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

  • Are there mistakes?
  • Would you describe the book as for entertainment, self-improvement, or information?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • Would you have done anything differently had you been the author?
  • Would any reader enjoy this book? If not, to what ages or type of reader would it appeal?

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:

  • What was the author's purpose in writing the book? Did the author accomplish that purpose?
  • Who is the target audience for the book?
  • What do you think is the book's greatest value? What makes it special or worthwhile?
  • Are the facts shared accurate?
  • Is the book interesting and hold your attention?
  • Would it be a useful addition to a school or public library?
  • If the book is a biography or autobiography, how sympathetic is the subject?
  • Is it easy to understand the ideas?
  • Are there extra features that add to the enjoyment of the book, such as maps, indexes, glossaries, or other materials?
  • Are the illustrations helpful?

Young Reviewers Keeping it simple

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

  • What is the book about? You don't need to tell the whole story over — just give an idea of what it's about.
  • Do you think other people would like it?
  • Did you think it was funny or sad?
  • Did you learn something from the book?
  • l Did you think it was interesting?
  • Would you want to read it again?
  • Would you want to read other books by the same author or about the same subject?
  • What was your favorite part?
  • Did you like the pictures?

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.

  • 5 Stars: I'm glad I read it or I loved it (this doesn't mean it was your favorite book ever).
  • 4 Stars: I like it. It's worth reading.
  • 3 Stars: It wasn't very good.
  • 2 Stars: I don't like it at all.
  • 1 Star: I hate it.

WriteShop

Book review writing prompts for high school students

by Kim Kautzer | May 3, 2017 | High school , Writing & Journal Prompts

Book review writing prompts for high school students

Not that long ago, it seems, we would look to magazine writers and newspaper columnists for book reviews. Today, every online customer is a potential book reviewer. No matter what you’re reading, someone wants to know your opinion.

Ask your high schooler to choose one writing prompt for a one-paragraph book review. Or, combine several prompts for a longer critique. Don’t forget to post the polished review on Amazon, Facebook, or a personal blog!

1. As Clear as Crystal

Explain your opinion of the author’s writing style . Are his arguments clear? Are his directions confusing? In his fiction, does he balance internal character development and external action to keep the story moving? Overall, do the author’s word choice and sentence structure make you want to read more?

2. Like Flowers in Spring

Evaluate the fictional characters . Are their actions consistent with their strengths and weaknesses? Are their speaking habits believable? Provide some examples. Analyze the story’s ending: does it flow naturally from what you’ve learned about these characters?

3. As Old as Time

With hard work and imagination, an author can reveal her distinctive creativity within the limits of classic plot structure . Describe the originality–or the copycat features–of her fictional storyline.

4. As Good as Gold

A work of nonfiction, whether a biography or a cookbook, claims a certain amount of special knowledge. Considering how this book advertised itself in the title and table of contents, did the actual product meet your expectations ? Was it accurate and well-researched? Did the facts outweigh the propaganda? Did you find extensive, organized information or only repetitious jargon?

5. Like Water in a Desert

We characterize an author as a harsh critic or a compassionate mentor depending on their tone. Did you find this author to be condemning or inspiring ? Give examples. Since you have familiarized yourself with the author’s viewpoint, add a recommendation about which readers will find this book most appealing.

If you enjoyed these book review writing prompts, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays ! Once a month, we feature topics especially suited for high schoolers.

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How to Write a High School Book Review

Students are taught to read books not just for pleasure but for the enrichment of the personal horizons and the most common assignment related with these issues at high school is a book review. Naturally, the requirements are not strict at all, but there are a few rules which every student should follow if he wants to complete a successful review and receive a good mark.

Step One: Read the Book Carefully

The most obvious and logical introductory tip is the attentive reading. It is impossible to succeed in writing if the book is read without responsibility and attention. If the student has caught only basic facts from the plot, the quality of the book review will be very poor, so the student’s task is to read the text attentively and to take notes in order to mark the important and interesting moments related mainly with descriptions of events, nature and major characters. Taking notes during the process of writing will also save much time, because the student will not have to reread the text ones more.

Step Two: Complete the Introduction

The student should prepare the introduction to the high school book review and dwell on the title of the book, the author, the genre of the book, its size, its cover, design, etc. These visual elements will help to understand whether the book looks nice and attracts the reader’s attention from the very moment it appears in his hands. The introduction should reveal basic facts about the book providing brief information about it.

Step Three: Prepare the Body

The main part of the book review is supposed to be divided into the several logical sections, where the student analyzes the content and problems of the book. For example, the first paragraph should present a brief plot of the book; the second – the main characters and their brief descriptions; the third – problems which can be associated with the plot.

Step Four: Be Creative

The most difficult factor of writing is the interesting manner of narration. Very few students manage to make their book review sound interesting, because the majority of them simply present the boring definite facts and descriptions without sensible connections. So the paper is supposed to be written in the persuasive and a bit informal tone.

Step Five: Define the Main Idea

When the details and characters are described, the student should think about the obvious problems which are presented in the text, because every book has sense and the certain idea, so the young professional should try to find out about the problems and present his own point of view about them.

Step Six: Prepare the Conclusion

Conclusion of the book review is expected to possess the summary of the student’s ideas and subjective evaluation of the book. The student should write whether he likes the book or not and prove his words with the arguments.

how to write a book review for high school students

How to Write a Good:

  • Research Paper
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  • Disciplines

Book Review Levels

  • College Book Review
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Duke University Libraries

Literature Reviews

  • Getting started

What is a literature review?

Why conduct a literature review, stages of a literature review, lit reviews: an overview (video), check out these books.

  • Types of reviews
  • 1. Define your research question
  • 2. Plan your search
  • 3. Search the literature
  • 4. Organize your results
  • 5. Synthesize your findings
  • 6. Write the review
  • Thompson Writing Studio This link opens in a new window
  • Need to write a systematic review? This link opens in a new window

how to write a book review for high school students

Contact a Librarian

Ask a Librarian

how to write a book review for high school students

Definition: A literature review is a systematic examination and synthesis of existing scholarly research on a specific topic or subject.

Purpose: It serves to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge within a particular field.

Analysis: Involves critically evaluating and summarizing key findings, methodologies, and debates found in academic literature.

Identifying Gaps: Aims to pinpoint areas where there is a lack of research or unresolved questions, highlighting opportunities for further investigation.

Contextualization: Enables researchers to understand how their work fits into the broader academic conversation and contributes to the existing body of knowledge.

how to write a book review for high school students

tl;dr  A literature review critically examines and synthesizes existing scholarly research and publications on a specific topic to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge in the field.

What is a literature review NOT?

❌ An annotated bibliography

❌ Original research

❌ A summary

❌ Something to be conducted at the end of your research

❌ An opinion piece

❌ A chronological compilation of studies

The reason for conducting a literature review is to:

how to write a book review for high school students

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

While this 9-minute video from NCSU is geared toward graduate students, it is useful for anyone conducting a literature review.

how to write a book review for high school students

Writing the literature review: A practical guide

Available 3rd floor of Perkins

how to write a book review for high school students

Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences

Available online!

how to write a book review for high school students

So, you have to write a literature review: A guided workbook for engineers

how to write a book review for high school students

Telling a research story: Writing a literature review

how to write a book review for high school students

The literature review: Six steps to success

how to write a book review for high school students

Systematic approaches to a successful literature review

Request from Duke Medical Center Library

how to write a book review for high school students

Doing a systematic review: A student's guide

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  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 1:45 PM
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IMAGES

  1. How to Write a Good Book Review: A Basic Guide for Students

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  2. 32 Book review template ideas

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  3. Book Review Format

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  4. How to Write a Good Book Review: A Basic Guide for Students

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  5. How To Write A Book Review In 10 Easy Steps

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  6. How To Write A Book Review In 10 Easy Steps

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VIDEO

  1. How to write a book review/how book review is written/how book review is done/how to do book review

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  3. A book review, “The Children of the South”

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  5. In The Dark

  6. Book Review Class 12 For 2023 Exam

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

    Table of Contents WHAT IS A BOOK REVIEW? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A BOOK REVIEW? WHY BOTHER TEACHING STUDENTS TO WRITE BOOK REVIEWS AT ALL? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOOK REVIEW AND A BOOK REPORT? BOOK REVIEW STRUCTURE FEATURES OF A BOOK REVIEW A COMPLETE UNIT ON REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF TEXTS ELEMENTS OF A BOOK REVIEW BOOK REVIEW KEY ELEMENTS

  2. 17 Book Review Examples to Help You Write the Perfect Review

    Start quiz What must a book review contain? Like all works of art, no two book reviews will be identical. But fear not: there are a few guidelines for any aspiring book reviewer to follow. Most book reviews, for instance, are less than 1,500 words long, with the sweet spot hitting somewhere around the 1,000-word mark.

  3. So What Do You Think? Writing a Review

    Overview. Teenagers are often outspoken and opinionated. Writing reviews of the literature they read gives them a chance to express their ideas while developing style and voice. This lesson uses discussion of student opinions about yesterday's lunch or a popular TV show serves as an introduction to the genre of reviews.

  4. How to write a book review: format guide, & examples

    How to Write a Book Review- A Step by Step Guide Check out these 5 straightforward steps for composing the best book review. Step 1: Planning Your Book Review - The Art of Getting Started You've decided to take the plunge and share your thoughts on a book that has captivated (or perhaps disappointed) you.

  5. How To Write an Engaging Book Review

    A book review is its own piece of writing. By that, we mean your book review shouldn't just repeat the book's plot. It should add a new perspective about the book. 2. Be concise. Don't ramble in your book review. Keep it focused on your analysis of the book since that's the content your readers are looking for. 3.

  6. Book Reviews

    Book reviews typically evaluate recently-written works. They offer a brief description of the text's key points and often provide a short appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the work. Readers sometimes confuse book reviews with book reports, but the two are not identical. Book reports commonly describe what happens in a work; their ...

  7. How To Write A Book Review: 6 Steps To Take

    1. Begin with a brief summary of the book This is probably the best way to introduce any review because it gives context. But make sure to not go into too much detail. Keep it short and sweet since an official summary can be found through a quick google search! 2. Pick out the most important aspects of the book

  8. Engaging High School Book Report Templates

    Writing the Report To structure the book reports, Barile recommends eight sections of analysis that will "require students to provide evidence of their choices and reasoning, which helps them think more deeply about what they have read." For each section, students should give examples from the book to back up their analysis.

  9. The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

    Blog - Posted on Thursday, Nov 11 The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need Whether you're trying to become a book reviewer, writing a book report for school, or analyzing a book, it's nice to follow a book review template to make sure that your thoughts are clearly presented.. A quality template provides guidance to keep your mind sharp and your thoughts organized so that you can ...

  10. How to Write a Book Report

    Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged.

  11. Book Review Template

    Writing Starter Book Review Template Grades K - 12 Printout Type Writing Starter View Printout About this printout Students can use this template as a means of communicating about a book that they have read. Teaching with this printout More ideas to try Teaching with this printout

  12. High School Book Report: Template, Format, & Writing Tips

    FAQ 🔗 References How can a teacher check if students have read the book? They ask to write a book report. The assignment is an extended summary of the book. However, high school book reports are usually more complicated. They require you to evaluate the piece of writing, reflect on it, or answer some questions.

  13. 18+ Book Review Examples for Various Academic Levels

    1. Good Book Review Examples for Students 2. Short Book Review Examples for Fiction Books 3. Non-Fiction Book Review Examples Good Book Review Examples for Students You might be a professional writer, or you may not have any experience in writing book reviews.

  14. 50 Best Book Review Templates (Kids, Middle School etc.)

    Education / Learning / Book Review Templates 50 Best Book Review Templates (Kids, Middle School etc.) A book review template enables you to illustrate the intentions of the author who wrote the book while creating your own opinions and criticisms about the written material as a whole.

  15. How To Write A Book Review: A Student Guide

    Reading a book is just one part of the literary process. Writing a review is a whole other part of the story! Learn how to write a compelling book review.

  16. Book Review Lesson Plan: Teach Students How to Write a Successful Book

    References Teacher experience. High School Lesson Plans & Tips In this book review lesson, learn to teach students how to write a book review. Using published book reviews to learn book review format. Replacing book reports with real-world book reviews.

  17. Book Review Writing

    "Quick read" 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.

  18. 18 Free Book Review Templates (Kids, Middle School Students, etc.)

    18 Free Book Review Templates (Kids, Middle School Students, etc.) "This is going to be a great read," said every reader after combing through a brilliantly written book review. In the advent of content writing, book reviews are pivotal to point you to the next read; alternatively, avoid. Sharing insightful information about a book is a ...

  19. Book review writing prompts for high school students

    Ask your high schooler to choose one writing prompt for a one-paragraph book review. Or, combine several prompts for a longer critique. Don't forget to post the polished review on Amazon, Facebook, or a personal blog! author's writing style. Are his arguments clear? Are his directions confusing?

  20. How to Write a High School Book Review

    Step Two: Complete the Introduction The student should prepare the introduction to the high school book review and dwell on the title of the book, the author, the genre of the book, its size, its cover, design, etc.

  21. 10+ Book Review Examples for Students of All Academic Levels

    10+ Book Review Examples for Students of All Academic Levels Are you writing a book review? The best approach is to read book review examples before getting started, as they will help you understand the writing process.

  22. How to Write a Book Report, With Examples

    When writing a book report, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First, avoid repetition by adding a new perspective about the book. Second, be concise and keep your analysis focused on the content your readers are looking for. Third, support your claims and positions with insights from the book and provide evidence for your arguments.

  23. PDF Book Review Examples for High School Students

    Book Review Examples for High School Students. Title: Paper Towns. Author: John Green. Genre: Realistic Fiction. John Green's amazing way of writing has not let us down yet. With his mesmerizing book, Paper Towns, he has captured the interests of teens around the country. Paper Towns has a setting that corresponds to our time and gives teens ...

  24. Getting started

    What is a literature review? Definition: A literature review is a systematic examination and synthesis of existing scholarly research on a specific topic or subject. Purpose: It serves to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge within a particular field. Analysis: Involves critically evaluating and summarizing key findings, methodologies, and debates found in ...