Book Reviews–Tips for Evaluating Materials

Remember: Copies of your review will be posted online. Editors frequently forward copies of your review to the author and/or illustrator. Much time and thought went into the creation of each review book, your review should be worthy of their serious effort and further consideration.

Reviews should be concise, critical, and identify:

  • What kind of book it is (fiction, easy, etc.)
  • For what audience it seems to be written
  • How it compares with similar titles by other authors and/or by the same author
  • Quality of format
  • Size of type
  • Page layout
  • Appropriate illustrations
  • Various art forms
  • Accurate color reproduction
  • Indicate interest grade level and reading grade level, if possible
  • Uses in library or classroom

When feasible, try to use the author’s writing style, or a few of his/her words or phrases to help convey the flavor of the book.

Consider biases:

  • Are cultural, sexual, racial, or age groups treated fairly?
  • How does their treatment affect the impact of the book?
  • Is opinion presented as “fact”?

Consult experts about accuracy and authenticity. Remember, the experts on child appeal are the kids themselves; try out a review book on students.

In rating your book, the “outstanding” recommendation category should be used very sparingly. An “outstanding” recommendation refers to “a distinguished book that should be a first-purchase and included in every individual library entity.” An “average to above average” rating should be used for the majority of positive children’s book reviews.

Before you rate your book, consider our district’s needs in terms of curriculum. How vital is the purchase of this particular book compared with the pressures of other critical purchases that must be made from this year’s library budget? Think twice before you rate any title “outstanding.”