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How to Write a High School Book Review

Instructors are fond of assigning book reviews in high school. Most students think that book reviews are some sort of punishment that ensures they read the whole book and write a 500 word critique. However, book reviews are assigned to students so that they can develop a better understanding of the society in which they live and the world at large. How to write a high school book review is a nightmare for most high school students who despise reading, but it does not have to be if one follows some simple rules.

First, one must understand the nature of a book review, which is the reader’s reaction to a specific book rather than a simple summarization of the work. A book review involves analyzing the validity of the content, purpose, and organization of the book. There are two basic kinds of book reviews, descriptive and critical. Descriptive book reviews evaluate the pertinent information offered in the book through exposition and description and is couched in the context of literary and historical values. These attributes are then supported by evidence from the work. The writer states and examines the perceived purposes and intentions of the author, often quoting some of the most compelling excerpts from the text in an effort to illustrate a point.

However, in most cases, high school students are assigned critical book reviews to complete as part of their literature assignments as opposed to descriptive. In a critical book review, students must be conscious of two requirements. First, students need to be well informed of the work under review. This necessitates that the student understand the author’s purpose and how the sections of work contribute towards the purpose in writing. Gaining a basic knowledge about the author’s life experiences, as well as other works by the author and time period of publication, will often facilitate the student’s ability to understand the influences on the author’s works. Secondly, it is imperative for students to understand the genre of the text. Understanding the book’s genre is simply to be conscious of the art form of the book and utilization of its characteristics. Without knowledge of the genre, students have no literary understanding upon which evaluations are based. The basics of a book review also include having a sense of what the reader expects to find in the critique. The reader should be able to glean from the critique some understanding of author’s thoughts and intentions without reading the original text. Main events and themes of the book are presented in a coherent and precise manner.

Finally, in a review, apart from communicating the author’s purpose, it is prudent for the reviewer to express an opinion about the author’s success in achieving the purpose in writing the book. Students must be certain to provide adequate evidence to support personal opinions. In summary, completing a book review, just like making a book report, requires one to read through the entire text and offer a reaction to the content of the book, as well as its organization and the author’s ability to express ideas in a clear and concise manner. The student will find it helpful to develop and follow an outline as a way to organize ideas in a coherent manner. Finally, the student must spend time revising and proof-reading the critique.

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Oct 9, 2013

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