How to Analyze Children's Books
There are different genres of books for children such as fiction and non-fiction. Each type has specific analytical requirements for the genre like meter and rhyme for poetry. Metrics exist for every book type but all genres have essentials that you should consider such as age and developmental appropriateness. These considerations are useful in reviewing board books, grade level books or picture books.
Analyzing Books For Children
Read the entire book for basic mechanics like spelling and grammar before you analyze the contents. Read the book again to evaluate the narrative. Jot down your initial thoughts on paper, a book diary or type your first impressions with a computer to record and organize your research. Write in the book diary, notes or computer about what emotions and thoughts the book created for you. Decide if you would read the book, from these initial concepts, again.
Judge if the book seems emotionally and intellectually appropriate for the intended age group. Read child development books or talk to librarians and teachers about what children should be reading at different ages. Obtain a book-list or book catalog to gauge whether the book that you are analyzing is similar to the cognitive and emotional levels in the specific age or grade category. Look at the vocabulary used in the book and decide if children of that age will comprehend the words in the narrative or, for older children, if the words are below the targeted grade level. Decide if the subject and narrative is emotionally appropriate for the intended audience. Be aware that difficult topics like war, death and suffering may not be proper for young children. Read for not only age-appropriate subjects but also be sensitive to whether the book is prejudicial. Review the book for text or pictures that show ethnic groups, females or disabled people in stereotypical roles.
Analyze the characters for a fiction book. Judge if the author describes the characters adequately or if the writer does not give the readers coherent descriptions of the characters’ appearances, behaviors, actions and motives. Decide if the characters use dialog that sounds like ordinary speech of the era. Be aware of how illustrations fit the character descriptions if you are reading a book with pictures.
Read the narrative in both fiction and non-fiction for structural consistency where chapters should transition with resolution to the previous chapter and narrative link to the next chapter. Apply the same criticism to sentences and paragraphs. Analyze the writer’s attention to details. Review the author’s strengths in remembering, for example, the time-line in the narrative. Add research about the author’s facts if the book is non-fiction. Use other books about the subject and publications contemporary with the topic. Be wary of using the Internet for research because there are many sites with inadequately vetted information or commercial interests that might conflict with accurate facts. Use government and education websites to check the author’s manuscript for factual integrity.
Items you will need
- Rutgers; Notes for the Analysis of a Picture Book; Kay E. Vandergrift
- Los Angelas Valley College: How to Write a Book Review
- The Guardian; How do I Write a Book Review?; Philip Ardagh, Linda Buckley-Archer; May 2011
- Storymind; How to Create Great Characters!; Melanie Anne Phillips
- Read, Write, Think: Help a Child Write a Book Review
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images