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These elementary grade book review activities are intended to give students the opportunity to express their opinions on the books they read. They also practice their persuasive writing techniques and learn how to critically evaluate books. One purpose of doing a book review is to truly explore what reaction the reader has to a piece of work and to continue introspective thinking by digging deeper. The reviewer then has to justify his conclusions to an audience. If students are given the impression that their ideas are important and even influential, they may begin to take expressing themselves more seriously.
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The teacher should first begin by exposing the students to some examples of book reviews. The students should be allowed to read the reviews and, based on the reviews, tell whether or not they would be interested in reading the reviewed book. This will help them understand how influential the opinions of others can be. Some will choose not to read a book because of a given review. Others will still choose to read the book depending on who the reviewer was and if they can relate to the ideas the reviewer expressed. Many magazines have reviews for Young Adult and Children's Literature such as Multicultural Review Magazine. Technology can be incorporated by allowing students to read reviews from Amazon.com as well.
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Students should be given time to read the book of their choice and then write a paragraph summary of the book. The second paragraph should discuss how they felt about the book. The final paragraph should tell whether or not they would recommend it to friends. They should also be able to rate the book using an easy to understand method like the four-star method. Their rating must match their review. A good example of a book review template to get your elementary students started can be found online such as this one at Education World.
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An additional challenging elementary grade level book review activity involves writing a review in which students are not allowed to bad-mouth the book. How can they express that they would not recommend the book without trashing it?
In another book review activity, students could also practice convincing each other to read a book in which their partner would normally not be interested.
These activities can be combined in a more interactive way by staging a debate about the differing opinions on the book in question.
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In these book review activities, your elementary students should all read the same book and write a book review. They should demonstrate persuasive writing and an accurate rating system. Those who are convincing have achieved their goal in writing book reviews regardless of whether or not they would recommend the book. Students can hold a secret vote about whether or not they would read a book based on their classmates reviews. Reviews can also be graded by the number of reasons or examples the student gave to support their opinion.
These student reviews on different books can be combined to make a class book of literature reviews to share with the other elementary grades or for the librarian to feature in the library to help patrons choose what they might like to read.