Wondering how to teach children to write book reviews? With this free printable template, anyone can write one!
While I usually write about our educational games and crafts, the biggest part of our homeschooling has always been reading books. (Isn’t it the same for most homeschooling families?)
Whenever there is a new interest forming, we get books from the library and go on a reading spree. When my son learned about Titanic (from the Magic Tree House Series), we complimented his interest with half a dozen books about the famous ship. When we got a puppy, we read several books about the history of dogs and a variety of jobs they can do. And, of course, we read a lot of fiction for fun, and my son hardly spends a day without listening to his favourite audiobooks for a few hours.
All of the book titles we’ve enjoyed over the last year go into our end-of-year homeschooling report, and the list is pretty long. As I was working on it, I was wondering if there is something else I can do, other than list them, to show how much they mean to our homeschooling journey and what they mean to my son.
That’s when the idea struck. We could do a series of book reviews!
Granted, my first reaction to that idea was, “Probably, not now though. I mean, my son is six, and he’s just figuring out how to write a simple sentence.” But immediately after that, I thought, “Actually, why not?”
My son doesn’t really like copywork. I have a suspicion he isn’t alone in that. He likes to write his own ideas down though – little comic strips, birthday cards, signs in his drawings, names for his vehicles. Short texts, but something with meaning.
Book reviews can be quite short, and they teach good structure. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be quite easy for kids to learn how to write a book review by making a plan with a list of questions for them to answer or possibly a template.
I ended up creating a free printable template of a book review for children. You can find it in the end of the post!
Why Write Book Reviews with Children
If I had to choose one main reason, I would say that it is worthwhile to work on book reviews because they make writing enjoyable for children by connecting it with the book they already love. Who doesn’t like to talk about their favourite things? When working on a book review, all that’s left is to write it down in a structured way.
I believe that establishing writing as a fun process is important for beginning writers, especially for those who still struggle to put words on paper, like my six-year-old son. As a matter of fact, sometimes he writes, and other times I put his words on paper for him. We did both with book reviews too.
Apart from that most important reason, here are a few more reasons to work on book reviews with children:
- Improving penmanship – a book review can be short, so it’s a doable exercise for beginning writers.
- Learning how to work within a genre – again, it’s short and well-structured, so it’s easy to write a book review just by answering questions. Later, it can help children to write movie reviews or video game reviews as well.
- Improving book comprehension – while writing even a short book review, children have to analyze the book itself as well as their feelings about it.
- Making a keepsake – some years later, they could see what they thought about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at six or about The Hobbit at eight. I bet it would be quite interesting!
How to Write Book Reviews with Children
Start by discussing what book reviews are and what purpose they serve. Read a few book reviews about books that your child already knows. Ideally, they should be written by other children. Here is a good place to look for children’s book reviews written by other children!
Next, choose a book to review! If you plan to write several book reviews with each child, select a few books from different genres – fiction, non-fiction, fantasy and slice-of-life stories. If you only plan to write one, or if it is the first one, I’d recommend going with whichever book the child likes most at the moment.
Get our free printable template and go through it together. There is a blank page for filling and a page that gives further explanation on how to work with each paragraph.
Fill it in and draw a picture!
About the Book Review Template for Kids
While some book reviews can offer an in-depth analysis of the book, this template is a basic introductory version. It was designed with young children (6-8 year-old) in mind.
This book review template features four concrete questions, with the star rating system and a generous space for making an illustration.
The questions are:
- the title of the book – encourage children to find it on the cover of the book and copy from there
- the name of the author – again, encourage children to copy it from the cover of the book
- this is what happened in the book – a short summary of the events of the book, this is a great exercise for little children in generalizing and selecting the most important events and characters
- recommend or not recommend the book and why – here children can give their personal opinion and what they like (or dislike) most about the book
It would be preferable if children could do the writing, hence very simple format. But if it doesn’t work, just let them dictate and write for them. My son and I also took turns.
When working on the last two questions with children, encourage them to express their thoughts, but give suggestions if they feel stuck.
For instance, if they don’t know why they’d recommend a certain book, you can give them a list of positive characteristics of the book and let them choose which one applies best to this particular book. “Was it funny? Was it full of adventures? Did you learn a lot from it?”
My son thinks that Owls in the Family is a very funny book, and that’s why he recommends it! I could tell that from before because he was often giggling when listening to it. But did he learn a lot from it? I did! But he said, “Not really. Just that it isn’t a good idea to bring a skunk into the house!”