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Review (2010). Teach like a champion
Lemov, D. (2010). Teach like a champion. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is basically a reaction paper in which you point out strengths and weaknesses of the material, and how it helps—or misleads you—in understanding the issues addressed in the book. Here is a general outline to follow:
I. Introduction:
A. Introduce your review appropriately. Identify the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author’s purpose in writing the book.
B. Explain Relationships.
Establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author’s thesis). As you write, consider the following questions:
• What is the main topic or problem addressed? How does the work relate to the field of education? Who is the audience for this book?
• What type of book is this? (What is the author’s main purpose for writing?)
• Who is the author? What does the preface or foreword tell you about the author’s purpose, background, and credentials? What is the author’s approach to the topic?
• What is your critical evaluation of the work? Why have you taken that position? Upon what criteria do you base your position?
C. Provide an Overview. What are the author’s basic premises for writing this book? What issues are raised, or what themes emerge? What situation(s) provide a basis for the author’s assertions? List any background information that is relevant to the book.
II. Evaluate the book. This is the heart of your book review. You should discuss a variety of issues here:
• How clearly is the book written?
• Did the author achieve his/her goal?
• What are the author’s most important points? Provide specific examples.
• What possibilities does the book suggest for the reader?
• What did the book leave out?
• How does the book compare to others you have read?
• What personal experiences do you have relating to the subject?
• What did you like best about the book? What did you like least about the book?
Make sure that you distinguish your personal views from that of the author.
III. Conclusion. Tie together any issues raised in the review and provide a concise comment on the book and whether or not you would recommend this book to someone else.
There is, of course, no set formula, but a general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author’s main ideas while the remainder of the report should evaluate the book.