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Teaching Tip: Online reviews spark student writing

Michele Dufresne

I recently traveled from Florida back to our home in Massachusetts. To help find a hotel for the night, we used my favorite new toy, the iPad. Locating a hotel that allows four dogs when we are ready to stop has been challenging in the past. This time it turned out to be fairly easy with my new technology. I used my iPad to read the reviews people had written about each hotel in the area. I read about friendly receptionists, great breakfasts, dirty bathrooms, noisy neighbors, and comfortable or lumpy beds. I was impressed that people had taken the time to write about their experiences. Their advice helped us select a place to stay.

Reading reviews online got me thinking about new ways to entice children to write. People who love reading are drawn to telling others about a great book they just finished. The new Pioneer Valley Books website provides readers with an opportunity to recommend books to others. 

Why not have your students try writing the reviews themselves? It can be a fun and great learning experience, providing students with an opportunity to describe, analyze, and evaluate a book they have read.

Here are some suggestions that students might include in a fiction book review:

  • What was the story about?
  • Who were the main characters?
  • What did the main characters do in the story?
  • Did the main characters run into any problems? Adventures?
  • Who was your favorite character? Why?

    Provide an opinion:

    • Did you like the book?
    • What was your favorite part of the book?
    • Do you have a least favorite part of the book?
    • If you could change something, what would it be? (If you wish you could change the ending, don't reveal what the ending was!) 

      Include personal experiences:

      • Could you relate to any of the characters in the story?
      • Have you felt or done some of the things the characters did?

        Make a recommendation:

        • Would you recommend this book to another reader?
        • What type of person would like this book?

        I look forward to reading your students' reviews and wish you well during this holiday season.

        Happy Teaching!

        Michèle Dufresne 


        Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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