Laura Dooley-Taylor began reviewing books for SLC’s predecessor, Library Media Connection, in 2010 and has been a steady contributor since. As a long-term contributor, we decided to ask her:
What do you get from being a book reviewer? Her response follows.
First, I frequently purchase books that I have reviewed to add to our library collection. Reviewing books helps me book talk and “sell” my collection. Just like adults, many of my students judge books by their covers and any time I can add a personal connection, it helps to demystify the process of choosing a book. Often I will add reviewed books to collection lists for teachers to use as themes for independent reading assignments. Extreme Battlefields (Annick Press 2016) is a text I use as literary nonfiction as well as a hook for reluctant readers, especially boys. Extreme Battlefields also works well as a read aloud for Veterans or Memorial Day.
Second, I use media that I’ve reviewed in lessons or tutoring sessions. After I reviewed the Quizlet app, I started using the study tool to minimize the need for paper index cards. Students who need help with organization really appreciate this app. Although our school district already had it, students often didn’t pay it as much attention as other apps. Sometimes a new pair of eyes introducing a source can help students and teachers utilize resources better. Another reviewed item that made it into our library was Making Bombs for Hitler (Scholastic, Inc. 2017), which we added when the social studies curriculum needed new historical fiction. (Full disclosure: When I was discussing the Holocaust with a group of sixth graders and brought up Making Bombs for Hitler, they were surprised that I didn’t receive extra copies and hadn’t ordered multiple sets for the library).
Third, I use the reviewing ARCs as giveaway books when students vote for a Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award book. The Rebecca Caudill Award program is popular at my school and students really love the reading incentives. Students get excited to read a book before it is published.
As an aside: most sixth grade students are impressed if I say I reviewed a book that we have in our library. At the same time, they are very skeptical and want to see the evidence with their own eyes!
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About the Author
Laura Dooley-Taylor is a librarian at Lake Zurich Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods, IL. She received her MLIS from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, and an EL endorsement from National Louis University, Illinois. She has taught middle and high school U.S. and World History and has been a teacher librarian for K-8th grade. Dooley-Taylor has also worked for the Chicago Public Library at the reference desk and leading storytime. You can find her on Twitter @schoollibrarian