Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas: Adding to Your Classroom Library by Reviewing Children's Books


I'd like to share with you my newest "Bright Idea" ~ Adding to your Class Library by Reviewing Children's Books.  Reviewing Children's books can be a super fun adventure!   I've been able to look through award winning books, many of which were "hot off the presses!"  How cool is that to be able to put your hands on books that even the libraries haven't received yet?

The picture above shows a small selection of children's books that I have been sent by the publishers to review this season. {Many of the books that I receive are donated to libraries or classrooms since I am not currently working in a classroom. It's one way to pay it forward}

Many authors and publishing companies are finding it harder to sell hard copy books because of all of the different electronic options for reading. Many of these companies have resorted to seeking out Bloggers and Social Media contacts to spread the word about their publications.  Some of you may already occasionally receive requests to review books or products from your Blogs or Facebook.  Teachers that I have talked to didn't realize that they could contact a publisher or author to request a review copy!  

Connecting with publishers and authors can be done via email, or through social media.  You can submit your requests for specific books, or put out a general request to be added to their reviewer list.  Publishers will generally want to know what your target audience is.  When you make your official request, you will want to be professional, explaining that you will post your review to your audience.  You won't want to write a letter saying you just want the free books. Publishers are looking to make connections so that ultimately they sell books. {Some publishing companies have request forms on their Blogs/Websites too, so be sure to take a look before emailing a request.} 

When I began reviewing several years ago,  I had posted an advertisement on a Children's Book Forum. The response was overwhelming.  At one time I was reviewing books for over 100+ publishers. Yep!  That's a LOT of books!  {I donated most of the books to Head Start and the local Libraries!}  My poor mailman didn't know what to think!  The UPS Guy... {yea, you know the one that looks really cute in those brown shorts.} we're now on a first name basis.  :) 

While I love reading through all of the books, I found that it was becoming more time consuming than I wanted to devote so I narrowed it down to a few publishers that I really liked.  I currently review for 2 companies and am sent a catalog seasonally to choose the books I wish to review.  The books pictured above were the selections I chose for this season.  

An author/publisher may choose to send books in galley form (complete book, unbound), or as a review copy.  They are brand new books, and in some instances they are labeled as review copies. This prevents people from trying to sell the books.  The galleys are cool and after review can be made into class books! 

Most publishers that I have worked with will send ad slicks/brochures with the review copies.  Some will include a press release or two. I like receiving these because it gives an idea what other books may be published in the future, as well as how the books were reviewed by others.  {I generally do not read the press releases or ad slicks until I have reviewed the book so that I remain impartial.}

If you've never written a review before, it's pretty simple.  You are basically giving your opinion of the book as a whole. Including the cover art, artwork, and story/plot  For children's books, the reviews are a paragraph or two. Chapter books {Which I don't review too many of } will require a lengthier review. It takes a short block of time to write a good review, and in return you get to keep a nice new book for your class library.

The Children's Books that I really enjoyed reviewing,  I will post my review on social media.  This is just one extra step I like to take to further build the relationship with the publisher. The books that I didn't particularly like as well, I will downplay the review, and only send it to the publisher/author if requested.  Maintaining a good relationship with an author/publisher is helpful when seeking donations for giveaways or other events.

Side Note:   After I wrote this article, I got to thinking about those of you who may have Amazon Affiliate accounts. Reviewing children's books may open up an opportunity for you to promote the books on your Blog, while earning affiliate revenue.  Here in Arkansas, due to some legislative mumbo jumbo, Amazon doesn't allow AR residents to participate so I am not an affiliate.  Though there are teachers in other states that do participate in the affiliate program, so it wouldn't be too hard to implement once you started reviewing.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Next up... Mrs. Richardson's First Grade Classroom....Amanda will be sharing with you Sight Word Table  Bins!  {Click the image below!}

 Mrs. Richardson's Clas - Sight Word Table Bins


  1. Oh, thank you for sharing this. I had no idea that you could do this. I teach first grade and my classroom library is very small (approx. 50 books). My students are enjoying reading these books but they are starting to fall apart (thank goodness for tape). Some of these books are 10-15 years old. I'm excited to try this out. Thank you again for sharing this.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I review books for the site Library Thing, but I have never thought about contacting publishing companies directly. Great idea!!! I LOVE reviewing books :)

    EduKate and Inspire

  3. I would LOVE to review children's books. It sounds like a great idea. Now I just have to get started! Thank you!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

  4. Wow, that's really cool! I will have to look into that. I am always trying to keep up-to-date with the latest children's books and this sounds like one way to do that!



  5. UM, I'm definitely going to be checking into this! I love finding new books and new things to share with my students, so this is something that's definitely useful & right up my alley. Thanks for sharing!!

    Miss V's Busy Bees

  6. Holy cow, I love this!!!! I just added this to my to do list. I LOVE books and this would be such a fun way to add more to my library!
    Lisen :)

  7. I love your blog! Can we donate book, bins, etc to you? Also, we would love to send you the bookretriver app for free!

  8. Great post, Danielle! I used to write for a review service in NYC, and would love getting the galleys. The kids were fascinated to see this step in the publishing process. As you said, the galleys also make terrific class books, and I remember once turning a galley into a bulletin board display.

    What a great blog hop!! Thanks!!

  9. Can anyone help me with where I can find pusblishers who want teachers to review books? I am a Special Education teacher and this would be a great opportunity for my students to see the steps in publishing! Thank you! Miss Davis

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