Reading Nonfiction Reviews
Before you write your own review, you should see how other students reviewed nonfiction. As you read the samples on this page, pay close attention to the types of details included, and consider how you might share similar details in your own review.
Reading a Short Nonfiction Review
In just a single paragraph, a short review can inspire others to read a nonfiction book or article. A short review includes three parts: The topic sentence introduces the title and author of the work in an interesting way. The body sentences tell what the book is about and why you like it. The ending sentence predicts who else would like the book and recommends they read it.
Sample Short Review
Listen to "Arctic Adventure"
Topic Sentence Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore Antarctica? You can experience a famous Antarctic exploration by reading Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong. Body Sentences This exciting nonfiction book tells the true story about how Sir Ernest Shackleton tried to become the first person to cross Antarctica. Shackleton and his crew suffered many hardships during the journey, including getting stuck in the ice in freezing temperatures. His courage and bravery stood out throughout the story. Ending Sentence If you want to know if he makes it all the way across Antarctica, you'll have to read this real-life adventure book!
Respond to the short nonfiction review.
Answer these questions about the reading. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.
The writer asks a question and introduces a book that can answer the question.
It tells the true story about how Sir Ernest Shackleton tried to become the first person to cross Antarctica.
(Answers will vary.) It encourages others to read the story to discover the outcome of the journey.
- How does the writer introduce the book being reviewed?
- What is the book about?
- What is the purpose of the ending sentence?
Reading a Full Nonfiction Review
A full nonfiction review provides more details and analysis than a short review. It reveals just enough about the book or article to help readers decide whether or not to read it. The beginning paragraph introduces the nonfiction work and gets the reader's interest. The middle paragraphs describe what the book or article is about, explain why you liked it, and reveal the book's theme or the article's main idea. The ending paragraph answers why others would like reading it.
Sample Full Nonfiction Review
Listen to "Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World"
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World
Beginning Paragraph Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World is an exciting nonfiction book by Jennifer Armstrong. Just imagine heading to Antarctica to be the first person to cross the entire continent—only you never get there—and you almost die!
What is the book about?
Middle ParagraphsIn 1914, 28 explorers set out from London on the River Thames. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew sail to South Georgia Island where the captain hears a warning. The winter ice pack around Antarctica isn’t melting like it should. Maybe the trip is doomed.
Shackleton sails on anyway, and the worst possible thing happens. They get stuck in the ice where the temperature can drop to minus 100° Fahrenheit! The ship, according to one crewman, is stuck “like an almond in the middle of a chocolate bar.”
What do I like about the book?
I love all the photos in this book. They make me feel like I am right there with the explorers. I keep reading page after page to find out what the crew does to survive. One example is that Ernest Shackleton sails 800 miles in a 20-foot boat to look for help. Most of the time, I can't believe what they are going through.
What is the book’s theme?
This is a book about bravery and leadership. Both Shackleton and his entire crew are courageous. Their story shows how important it is to work together as a team during hard times. It also shows what a difference a good leader can make. The book is great from beginning to end. And it makes me think, “How would I handle such a tough time?”
Why would others like it?
Ending Paragraph Reading this book is a true adventure. Don’t miss it, especially if you like true stories about real explorers!
Help students realize that the key features in the model nonfiction review can inspire them as they create their own reviews. Students can use the same type of strategies to review longer nonfiction articles or even chapters of their school textbooks. Writing in this way helps students with their summary skills and improves their retention of new information.
Let students know that they do not have to include the four questions as headings in their own review, like this reviewer does. But, whether they list the questions or not, students should answer each of the questions somewhere in their review.
Respond to the full nonfiction review.
- How does the essay get your attention in the beginning paragraph?
The beginning paragraph creates suspense about the danger of exploring Antarctica.
- What questions do the middle paragraphs answer?
What is the book about? What do you like about the book? What is the book's theme?
- What "worst possible thing" happens to Shackleton and his crew?
They get stuck in the ice where the temperature can drop to minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- What is one thing the reviewer liked about the book?
(Answers will vary.) The photos made the reviewer feel like she was right there with the explorers.
- What themes from the book does the reviewer identify?
Bravery and leadership
- What type of person does the reviewer think will enjoy the book? (Hint: The writer shares it in the ending paragraph.)
Someone who likes true stories about real explorers.
- Did the review make you want to read the book? Why or why not?
(Answers will vary.)