In the early elementary grades, children can focus on the topic of the book and the information they found most interesting. A sample might look like this:
Ever wonder what happens to fish and frogs in winter? What about snakes, salamanders, woodchucks, and waterboatmen? Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart answers these question by giving readers a close-up peek at a hidden world. Soft watercolor illustrations show nineteen animals living in four different habitats.
But older students can highlight the nonfiction text types (survey, specialized, concept, biography/autobiography), styles (expository, narrative, persuasive), and structures (description, sequence/order, compare & contrast, question & answer, cause & effect, and problem & solution) I’ve been blogging about since October. The reviews can also include information about the author’s choice of voice and point of view. A sample might look like this:
Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart is a circular narrative concept book with a calm, cozy, soothing voice and a third person point of view. Carefully-chosen words and soft, muted watercolor paintings show and tell readers how a variety of animals eke out an existence during chilly winter weather.
To write these reviews and then present them as booktalks, students will have to closely study the text and determine how the author crafted it. In the process, they will be adding tools to their own writer’s toolboxes.