Hello lovely humans and welcome to my first book discussion post! I am really nervous, so if you have any advice on how I can get better, do tell! Without further ado, let’s talk about reviewing kids books!
I like children’s literature since… well, I could say since I was a little child myself, but the main thing is I still enjoy it now. But until this year I was very restrained when it came to reading more of it – especially picture books or books from toddlers to first grade. I was worried that it would be seen as cheating at my Goodreads challenge. But am I reading for a challenge or for myself? So this year I made it a goal to read as much children’s fiction (and non-fiction) as I want and especially to review it!
After almost two months of requesting kids books and reviewing them, I realized some trends in the reviews for those books which made me think about this post. As a disclaimer, this post will focus on kids book that are mainly just for kids – aka I will exclude the books that adults enjoy too (so we are not gonna mention Harry Potter or classics from children literature).
You should review books however you want, but if you request kids books for reviewing then I think you have a duty to the little ones, their parents and teachers, so you might find the following tips helpful!
○ Keep in mind that the book was not meant for you. You can read it and enjoy it (I know I do), but you are NOT the target audience for this book. It bother me a lot when reviewers say “this book wasn’t for me” because guess what? You are right, the book isn’t for you!
○ Keep in mind who you are reviewing the book for! Remember the duty I mentioned above? Well if you requested a book that is meant for parents to read their toddlers then I think you should write a review meant for those parents, not for the general public. Tell the target audience – parents, teachers, librarians or even kids – middle graders might read your review – why you think they should or shouldn’t read this book to their little ones.
○ Connect with your inner child! Try to see the story from the eyes of your inner child. Maybe that adventure does not seem spectacular to the 20 y/o you, but maybe when you were 10 y/o you would’ve thought of it as THE BEST ADVENTURE EVER!
○ Connect with the kids around you. Okay, maybe it’s hard to imagine your thoughts from when you were 10 y/o, but if you have a little sister or cousin, then try to read the book together. See what they think, how they react, are they curious about the next chapter? do they like the main character? does your 2 y/o brother adore the bright illustrations? Sure, it means you are doing more than reading and reviewing a book, but think of it as sharing our love and passion for books with the little ones!
○ Try to be objective. I know reading is very personal and subjective, and I am not suggesting not to have feelings, but if a kids book makes you very angry or annoyed take some time to dissect that emotion and see why. Is it because you cannot enjoy the story because you are older? Is it too predictable for you but it might not be as predictable for a first grader? Try to get to the bottom of how the book makes you feel. Also, be fair – just because the book is meant for the little readers doesn’t mean it should get away with things like perpetuating stereotypes.
○ Establish how you are going to rate the book. This was the hardest for me, even if the book was good and perfect for a toddler, I had a hard time giving it more than 3 stars because in the end it wasn’t a book for me – but if we go back to the first two points, why should the book’s rating suffer just because I decided to read and review a book that wasn’t meant for me? So I use a different rating system for kids books, or you could choose not to rate it at all and just write your review.
○ If you do not think you can review a book from another point of view other than yourself, then…. maybe don’t request it? It’s like reading a chemistry book and reviewing it negatively just because you do not like chemistry that much, while completely ignoring the writing style and research. Any other example you can think of works, but I just don’t really like chemistry and couldn’t come up with a better one.
I know I sounds a bit negative and maybe quite critical at the address of other reviewers of kids books, but this doesn’t come from a place of meanness. I am sure that some reviewers might not even be aware they are judging the books too harsh or that they ignore the target audience. We all make mistakes, but we also learn from them!
Since this is a discussion post, now it’s your turn! What do you think? Do you review books for children? Tell me if you don’t agree or if you do, and also if you have anything else to add. (Also, how was this post for a discussion post and how can I improve?)
Thank you for reading!