How to write a book review, Part 2

The Neutral Book Review

In Part 1, I suggested four steps to writing a book review. Today, let’s zero in just a bit more on the neutral review. This type of product review presents facts and summarizes key aspects of the product or book, and should include very little to no personal opinion.

Sometimes it’s just best to give some examples. Below are some book reviews written by professional reviewers who did NOT use the WriteShop program. You’ll notice that the tone is, for the most part, neutral. Neither review gushes over WriteShop, yet both authors clearly favor it.

This kind of review is meant to give facts and to hold back on personal opinion as much as possible, but you’ll probably spot a few “bias” words such as “great resource” or “I like the flexibility of this option.” Still, all four reviews manage to keep their focus on the features of the programs without editorializing.

Reviews by Cathy Duffy

for Cathy Duffy Reviews

  • WriteShop is a great resource for homeschoolers because it’s written for the teacher who knows nothing about teaching writing. It features detailed, daily lesson plans along with student worksheets that cover not only the lessons, but also evaluation and grading…. (Read complete review here.)
  • WriteShop Primary, designed for grades K-3, was written by a different author than the original WriteShop. It has many of the same elements that make both programs good choices for homeschoolers…. (Read complete review here.)

This next writer begins her first article with a bit of personal commentary before launching into the neutral product description and review.

Reviews by Virginia Jones

for Eclectic Homeschooling Online

  • One of the gripes I hear from other homeschoolers and professional educators is that a lot of homeschool students don’t know how to write. I also hear the opposite—that homeschoolers have excellent writing ability. I think it depends on the family; if there’s an emphasis on writing, competent, perhaps even superior writers will result. However, writing often seems to be the last thing we get to in our day…. (Read complete review here.) 
  • WriteShop Primary A Activity Set Worksheet Pack is a set of worksheets used in the WriteShop Primary writing course. The set for Book A contains 20 activity pages plus two Primary Writing Skills Evaluation Charts geared to track your young student’s progress as you move through the program together…. (Read complete review here.)

Next week, we’ll take a look at some reviews that offer a more personal bias, even though the writers have not actually used the product themselves.

Photo © Caitlin Burke. Used with permission.
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