Book reviews are an excellent way to not only share your thoughts on books you’ve read, but also to develop and practice your comprehension, writing, language, and critical thinking skills. A book review is not a book report (which rehashes the book’s contents), but a short, original, critical discussion of the book focusing on what the reader’s experience with the book was, and who (or who not) the reviewer would recommend the book to.
Reviews submitted for this volunteer opportunity will be considered for publication in the library’s online catalog and other digital spaces, and may be printed for use in the physical library branches or as a readers advisory tool in a display, bookmark, or other in-person use.
Requirement and Guidelines
The following rules are strictly enforced in order to ensure that all volunteers are being recognized for their good work appropriately and that all volunteering is in-line with SCLSNJ policies and procedures.
All volunteer book reviewers must fill out a SCLSNJ Virtual School Year Teen Volunteer Application and be approved by the Civic Services Volunteer Office before submitting reviews.
All reviews must be submitted to the SCLSNJ Virtual Teen Volunteer Timesheet. The link to this timesheet is sent to all approved volunteer applicants.
Review submissions must adhere to the following format. An example of this format can be found here: Book Review Example
File Name: BookReview_First Name Last Name_Title Of Book_Year (Example: BookReview_JenDoe_Persepolis_2023)
- Portable Document Format (.pdf)
- Microsoft Word (.docx)
- OpenDocument Format (.odt)
- All these file types are download options in Google Docs.
- Readable font and size such as Arial 12pt or Georgia 11pt
- Double spaced
- Mostly free of grammatical / typographical errors
- Include your name at the top.
- Title – If the book is in a series, the series name and the book’s number in that series should be included with the title.
- Year published
- Genre include: mystery, sci-fi, historical fiction, romance, etc.
- Subgenre include: Supernatural Romance, Golden Age Sci-Fi, etc.
- Format: how-to, biography, epistolary, graphic novel, etc.
- A book can be more than one genre, subgenre or format!
Book Review Content:
Write a thoughtful book review on a book that you have read recently. Be creative! If you loved it, try to imagine yourself as a librarian, teacher, or book seller suggesting the book to a teen. If you hated it, be a book critic and write a scathing review. If you found the book to be boring, engaging, informative, exciting, expressive, etc. be sure to reflect that in your review.
Reviews should be about 5-13 sentences, or about 100-350 words in length, and should be more about what the reviewer feels about the book than what happens in the book.
Your review must include:
- What happens in the book? Provide a brief, spoiler free summary. Oftentimes, this means describing how the book sets up the story. 2-4 sentences
- Who do you recommend this book to? Who might enjoy it? For example: adrenaline junkies, sci-fi fans, Romance speed readers, etc. Try to think of one group who might like this book, but who might not pick it up if it wasn’t recommended to them. | 1-3 sentences
In addition, include at least one of the following:
- What does the author do well? What did you enjoy about reading the book? Even if you hated the book, maybe there is something to highlight for other readers. 1-3 sentences
- What could have been better? What took you out of enjoying the book? Even if you loved the book, and don’t see any flaws, thinking critically about what might turn off other readers.1-3 sentences
- What was something interesting or notable about the book that made you think?
- How did the book make you feel as you read it? What was the author trying to make you feel, if those feelings didn’t match?
- Other interesting thoughts related to the book that make for a cohesive review.
A volunteer may submit and be recognized for up to 10 approved reviews each season.
- Spring (March 1- May 31)
- Summer (June 1- August 31)
- Fall (September 1 – November 30)
- Winter (December 1 – February 28)
Volunteer credit is calculated at the end of each season. 1 hour of time is awarded for each approved review. A volunteer may request a certificate for any season, or for more than one season, as long as 24 hours notice is given. Certificates are delivered via email in PDF format.
Volunteers must submit reviews that contain only their own original work. Submitting work that is not your own original work is called plagiarism.
- Copy and pasting the exact words of other writers
- Rewording the writing of other writers and representing it as your original work.
- Submitting work written by friends or family as your own.
- Using a chatbot or other text generation technology instead of writing the review.
Plagiarism of any kind will result in loss of volunteer credit for all reviews and a permanent ban from submitting reviews.
That said: writing a review is not like submitting an assignment for school. Reviews are not a test, and the Library wants your review to be the best it can be. We want to hear YOUR voice in the review. While we ask that all reviews submitted be your best work that meet our requirements for content and formatting, we assume all reviews are working drafts, and will work with reviewers to make the most polished final product we can together.
* Updated 3/3/2023