Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Students Review Books

I have tried for years to get my students to read more books. I have tried all kinds of things. This year I required my students to read 10 books from 7 specific genres and the last three from genres of their choosing. I also required them to write a review of their book. I wanted them to tell me a bit about the book and characters. Their impressions and whether it lived up to their expectations. I was also interested in who they would recommend the book to if they were to recommend it to someone. I am trying to teach them to make connections to other readings or to their life in some way so I had them try to make a connection. Most of my students didn't seem to thrilled to write these reviews. For some it meant I could tell whether they had read the book or not. I started asking permission to publish some of them on my blog and all of a sudden they started filling out the review sheets. Everyone likes a little bit of notoriety. I had planned on posting only one tonight. Instead for my first student post I will be posting three and telling you a little about each student. You will see that they are in different stages of learning to write a book review. I am very proud of all three of them for contributing to my blog and for doing such an excellent job for their first book review.

Jackie has already read four of the seven required genres and three of her choosing. She has currently read "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and is on the third book of the Midnighter Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. Jackie read The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn. She had looked through my shelves and wanted a ghost story. I recommended this one to her because I think that this author tells some of the best ghost stories. This is Jackie's very first book review:

The characters in this book were Georgie, Diana, and Ms. Willis. They are all ghosts. Then there is Lizza the caretaker's daughter. Georgie and Diana would spy on the Carter's of the Old House and would also steal things. I would recommend this book to my friend L------ because I think she's in to these kinds of books. One connection I had with the book was with the caretaker's daughter Lizza. She had talked to ghosts. The connection I had with this was that she had gotten to see them and I have always wanted to see a ghost or hear one. What I would do in Lizza's situation is I would probably not be mean to them before I met them. The book is a little bit like my old book I have at home about Cirque du Freak because there are ghosts and other kids see ghosts in that book.

Christofer wasn't really sure what he wanted to read. He has since figured out that he really likes Realistic Fiction. Most kids have picked up the book Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell and put it back on the shelf without even giving it a chance. Christofer looked at the front, flipped it over and read the back and said, "I think this one sounds okay." I told him it was fantastic. He finished it in about three days and brought it back to me and said, "That was a great book. I really liked it." What follows is his review:

Tobin's mom dies and he lives with his dad and his brother. His first day of school was bad because his grandma took him to school and she parked in the school's grass. He doesn't do good at school. But one day he got in a fight and he got suspended. He started taking care of chickens. After he started taking care of chickens his life changed. He started to dress out. One day two social workers came and took him to a different home. I recommend this book because it was interesting. Some people don't do good at school. Something happens to them and they change everything.

Luis had abandoned the first couple of books he picked up in my class. He came across A Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowry Nixon. This is his review of that book:
A Deadly Game of Magic is a good book. Even though it wasn't what I expected, it was pretty good. Bo is the high school jock who isn't scared of anything. Lisa and Teena are the two girls. Julian is the dancer. They're coming home from a competition they lost. On their way home it is raining real bad. Bo's care broke down so they stopped at a house. two people are in it and say they can stay there. But as time goes by weird things start to happen. Until the end they all live their regular lives.
I want to thank all three of these students. I will start making this a weekly post. The exact day of the week will be determined later. Keep reading and Happy blogging.


  1. Oh dear, I commented yesterday and it seems to have gotten lost--I just wanted to say to your students--"Great reviews! Now I want to go read those books too!"

  2. A great idea - and what excellent reviews! I'm hoping to do something like this at our library this coming summer, so I'll be watching closely!

  3. Wow, you guys picked some great books! I read the first two and liked them too, but somehow I've missed the third - and I love Joan Lowry Nixon! I'll have to go find that one, now! Thanks for sharing your reviews with us.

    - Atlas

  4. These are great! I really liked Chicken Boy too. I would love to have students publish reviews on a blog for my library. Maybe I will get it started this year since you've inspired me.

  5. Oh, I think I need to read these books--and recommend them to mhy son. Thank you for the reviews, everyone.