Writing reviews of children's books can be a lot of fun. If you do it enough, and do it well, you can even turn it into a source of income. However, don't let the fact that kids' books are short and full of pictures fool you: it still takes a certain amount of work to write a useful kids' book review. Remember, a review is more than just a book report explaining what the book is about. It should include key points like what you liked about the book, what you didn't, and most importantly, if the book is one that its target audience will enjoy. Here are some hints on how to write an effective children's book review.
How to Write a Children's Book Review
First, read the book from beginning to end. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you're going to write a review that's useful to readers, you need to read the whole thing. Don't just look at the blurb on the back cover, don't just skim over the first ten pages. Read the entire book. Go back later to re-examine key points of interest.
As you read, take notes. Mark down things that you want to go back and look at later. If there's something that doesn't make sense to you, jot it down. Conversely, if there's a line or a scene that really impresses you, keep track of that as well.
Briefly explain the story. Give the reader a general idea of what the story is about. Describe the main character or characters, the focus of the plot, any internal conflict, and what sort of adventures the characters have. Do this in just a few short sentences at most. No matter what, if there is a surprise twist ending, do NOT reveal it in the book review.
Write down your opinions of the book. Ask yourself whether the book meets its goals. It should not only be a book that parents will enjoy, but that children will like too. After all, it’s a children's book. There should be characters that children relate to, events that children will understand, and an engaging story line. If a character is obnoxious or preachy, make sure you mention that as well. After all, the best review is an honest one. If the book is a picture book, mention whether or not you liked the illustrations, and whether or not the illustrations relate to the text on the page.
Tell readers whether or not you recommend the book. If you think readers would enjoy it, explain why. Conversely, if you think it's a book best left unread, tell them why that's the case. Many people choose children's books based on reviews, so be sure to lay it all on the line.
Remember that while children are the target audience, parents are the ones with the money to spend. If there's something in a children's book that you think parents might find objectionable, be sure to bring it up so they can make an informed decision.
If you write a review and get a negative response from the book's author, which does sometimes happen, don't let yourself be forced into changing your opinion. Writers have to learn to take the bad reviews along with the good, and not take them personally.