In line with our school theme last year, The Power of You in Community, we start our introduction to the library catalog with an activity for 5th grade. They walk through the OPAC on their iPads and find the books that they have read over the summer. We work on leaving quality comments and reviews on these books.
Emphasizing that a book review should include:
- The book’s title and author
- A brief summary of the plot that doesn’t give away too much
- Comments on the book’s strengths and weaknesses
- The reviewer’s personal response to the book with specific examples to support praise or criticism
Keep in mind while writing the review:
- Does the book fit into a genre, like mystery or romance, and why?
- When and where does the action in the book take place? Does the author do a good job of making you feel like you are there? How?
- Are the main characters believable? Do you know anyone like them? Does the author adequately describe them?
- What do you like or dislike about the author’s writing style? That is, do you like the way the author uses words?
- Use concrete examples to back up your points, such as describing a scene that really moved you or using a couple of short quotes from the book.
- Don’t forget to include your opinion of the book, whether you liked or disliked it.
As the students grow throughout the year, they are encouraged to be part of our 5th grade Reading Community by reading and reviewing books in our OPAC. we added some encouragement through a point system with two achievements. Once students are an active participant in our community (about 3 reviews in a trimester) they achieve status as a Reading Community member and earn a pin to wear on their badge lanyard.
The second achievement is earned when a student goes above and beyond with their participation in the Reading Community. They reach the status of Librarian of the Day! As librarians, they give a Booktalk to the entire middle school, facilitate the Mobile Library at lunchtime, send a whole school email with their reviews compiled, and process circulation at class time. Once a Librarian, these students are welcomed into the Library Leaders program which plans activities and is responsible for the library.
I have found that this is a great program to get students actively involved in reading. What are your programs that work in your library?