Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Student-Led Book Recommendations

Recommending books to each other is a huge part of my third grade classroom. Informal recommendations happen everyday, as kids are constantly returning books, swapping books with each other, and forcing books upon friends with a "You MUST read this now!" attitude.

We also do more formal book recommendations during the course of the school year. This year we used KidBlog, and my students were able to write their own blog posts to recommend books to students in their own classes as well as our partner classes around the world.

I thought it would be fun to share some of their recommendations over the summer. If you are looking for great books with a third-grade stamp of approval, this will be the place to look! (Please note that my third graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for third graders.)

Student-Led Book Recommendations: Format

For teachers or parents interested in the behind-the-scenes, here is the format that I have found works well for helping kids structure a book recommendation post. (This was originally given out as a handout with a few lines for note-taking after each question.)

Directions: This week, you will be writing and sharing your first blog post on KidBlog. Use the categories below to help you plan what to include in your post. Remember to add transitions, so it all makes sense.

1. Think about a book that you think your classmates would like to read. Use this sheet to brainstorm ideas for your book recommendation post.

2. Introduce the book: include the title and the author

3. Summary: tell about the book, but don’t give away the ending!

4. Review: what makes this a great book? How do creativity, plot, characters, language, or other features make this book one that you would recommend?

5. Tell your favorite quotable quote from this book or make a connection

6. Give a recommendation: “If you like … , you will love this book” or “I recommend this book to anyone who likes …”

7. Write a concluding sentence for your review and/or include a rating

Student-Led Book Recommendations: Example

To set students up for success, I also shared a mentor post with an example book review that I had written. Dragon Slippers had been recommended to me by a student a few weeks before, so I knew that it was one that was just starting to make the rounds among the class. Here is my review:

I would like to recommend the book Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. It is the first book in the Dragon Adventures series.

Dragon Slippers tells the story of Creel, who is sent to a dragon's cave by her aunt. The aunt wants a knight to rescue and marry Creel so that the aunt doesn't have to take care of her anymore. Creel, however, has other ideas, and she is soon off on an adventure of her own after meeting and becoming friends with the dragon. She also receives a soon-to-be-important pair of slippers.

This is a great book, because the characters are brave and interesting. Creel is not helpless, and she has great adventures. She also is clever and cares about her friends. This book connects to another book I have read, called Dealing with Dragons, because in both books a girl meets up with a dragon, but she does not need anybody to rescue her.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes books about dragons, brave main characters, and funny and unexpected situations.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Third Grade Book Recommendations

Stay tuned during the summer as I share recommendations written by my students! I will compile a linked list of them here as well.

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