Writing a Book Review

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A book review includes both summary and analysis. In writing a review on a textbook, you should explain the following, using specific examples as appropriate, to describe the:

  • Purpose of the text;
  • Intended audience/setting/skill areas;
  • Content/skills taught;
  • Author’s methodology (pedagogical approach/style);
  • Textual organization;
  • Supporting materials (for students and instructors);
  • Potential applications for other uses/settings/audiences;
  • Strengths;
  • Weaknesses.

When analyzing the strengths and weaknesses, please consider the following:

  • How well does the text fulfill its purpose?
  • What does this text do particularly well/unlike any other?
  • What is the most relevant/practical/beneficial use of this text (primary vs. supplemental text, small- vs. large-group instruction vs. independent study, accuracy vs. fluency, academic vs. vocational, beginning vs. intermediate, etc.)?
  • How adaptable is the text? In what way?
  • How well does the text engage students?
  • Are there sufficient schema-building activities, vocabulary exercises, explanations, skills activities, authentic language models, critical-thinking exercises, opportunities for extended practice, and so forth?
  • Are explanations clear and comprehensible for students?
  • Is the suggested time allotted for particular activities, general lessons, and so forth accurate?
  • Is the overall design inviting and the pages easy to navigate?
  • If part of a series, how well does this text fit with the rest of the series?
  • If a new edition, in what ways have the updates improved the text?
  • Is there anything inaccurate (linguistically, factually)?
  • Considering the intended purpose/audience, what, if anything, is lacking?
  • Has anything been poorly executed (design, methodology, content, syllabus organization, etc.)?
  • What are the text’s limitations, if any, considering the author’s purpose/target audience?

It can also be helpful, but may not be necessary, to include:

  • Comparisons to other texts (others in a series or others by the same author);
  • Complementary texts;
  • A couple of references to research to help explain the author’s purpose/approach or your analysis of the text.