Steps to Writing a Book Review
You’ve read a great book, why not share your
thoughts? This is a guide for writing book reviews.
Following these steps will help you stay focused on
writing an evaluative review, not just a book
summary. AND REMEMBER, book reviews are
terse – they are short but packed with information. A
reviewer says a lot in a very short space. Your
review needs to be LESS THAN 1000 typed
characters, including spaces. That’s about 170 –
180 words. Also, write in the present tense, not past
Step 1: Think about your overall assessment of the
Write a strong declaration reflecting your
assessment of the book.
For example: “Readers will laugh out loud, even
while taking in the poignant truth of what it’s like to
be 15, Native American, and wanting a “normal” life,
as they enjoy Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True
Diary of a Part-time Indian.”
Step 2: Summarize the plot QUICKLY --- one or two
sentences. Try following one of these formats:
Who, what, where, when, why, or The idea of conflict.
Ex. “Despite Junior’s dysfunctional, poverty struck
family, his never give up attitude pushes him to
travel across town to attend a high school with better
opportunities than the “res” can give him.”
Step 3: What did you like or dislike about the book?
Add details as necessary to explain but don’t be too
long winded. One example is good.
Ex. “Alexie’s cartoon drawings are a unique way to
keep a reader’s interest.”
Step 4: Provide information about the literary
qualities of the text. This may be about three
sentences in length. One is usually not enough.
Literary qualities you may have been working with
include: Plot (exposition, rise in action, climax, falling
action, resolution), irony, conflict, symbolism, flat vs.
round characters, protagonists vs. antagonists.
Others include humor, imagery, setting,
foreshadowing or any more you know about.
Ex. “Alexie also pairs humor alongside serious
insights about his family and his role in it. This
family conflict will resonate with teens and keep
them reading to see how Junior turns out in the end.
Readers should be aware that the rawness of Junior’
s voice comes with occasional profanity and graphic
references – not too over the top but enough to feel
his real emotions.”
Step 5: Write a final sentence that states what type
of reader would like this story and assist the reader
in selecting or not selecting the book by providing a
rating: Not Recommended, Additional Selection,
Recommended, or Highly Recommended. Ex.
“Most teens will appreciate the honesty of Junior’s
voice as he grapples not only with everyday drama,
but also the in-your-face stereotypes of race and
poverty that rock and motivate his soul. This is
highly recommended for public and school
Step 6: Reread your review and check to make sure:
✓ You have supported the rating you intend to give
the book? ✓ Your sentences flow smoothly together.
✓ You have a variety of word choices (not repeating
words over and over!) ✓ Check your “typed
character” count. If you check the word count, it will
usually give the typed character count too.
1. Alec Garcia 5. Kolbe Donnelly
2. Jonathan Hall 6. Coltan Martin
3. Joe Ruiz 7. Perry Hawkins
4. Emma Howe