The Elements of an Engaging & Informative Online Educational Administration Book Review

Why Are Online Book Reviews Important?

There are a lot of books out there for anyone wanting to learn more about the field of educational administration and leadership. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. Which is great, but having too many resources can sometimes make it difficult to figure out which of the many, many books are 1) most relevant to your interests, 2) most current and up-to-date, and 3) worth reading. There are so many books in fact that a quick search on Amazon for "educational administration" (pictured below) gave me more than 30,000 results! So unless you're looking for a specific title, choosing a book to read can sometimes be a complete shot in the dark.

But as educational administration researchers, students, and teachers, we can help each other out by writing helpful, detailed book reviews that let others know which books are worth investing time into. Now I'm not suggesting that you need to write an essay on the book or anything. When I say detailed, what I mean is we should try to include certain key elements that help others know if this book is worth picking upLearning how to write a useful online book review is the first step in helping your fellow peers save time + money, and to honestly be able to recommend good books for them to read!

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Where Can I Post Online Book Reviews?

Thankfully many decent reviews can be found on the Internet and reading apps, though they do vary greatly and are more often than not very brief and unhelpful (e.g. "Didn't like it, wouldn't recommend it"). Some websites where we could use some consistently well-written and helpful book reviews are: 

  • Reading apps such as Goodreads
  • Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, and other major book distributor websites
  • Author websites
  • Your local library's website
  • Your local bookstore's website*
  • Your university library's website*
  • Your own blog or website

*If these websites allow book reviews

Note! What is missing on the list above is educational administration journals, and while many journals do accept book reviews, those are academic book reviews, and they are generally follow a format that is quite a bit more detailed than something you'd want to write for a website or a reading app. However, if you'd like to learn more about writing academic book reviews, there are some great resources online - check them out!

I personally rely heavily on reading online reviews of books to figure out if a book is worth investing my time into. So, I'd like to share what I believe are the three most important elements of an online book review, and how you can make sure you include them in your own reviews, even if it's just a paragraph or two long (don't worry, there's a helpful book review tip sheet at the end of this post!) 

The 3 Elements of Every Good Online Book Review

Every good book review I've ever read includes three common elements: 1) Book Info, 2) Synopsis, and 3) Commentary & Views. These are the three elements that I use in my own book reviews, for example, my review of Aesthetic Dimensions of Educational Leadership by Eugenie A. Samier and Richard J. Bates with Adam Stanley. This is a lengthier book review, perhaps longer than something you want to write for a website like Amazon or Indigo, but the important thing is that all three elements are in your review - whether it's 100 or 1,000 words long.

Related: 3 Easy Steps to Setting Up Your 2018 Educational Leadership Reading Challenge on Goodreads

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Book Info

Every good book review should include some basic information on the book. This is where you want to identify the title and author (or editor) of the book, publisher, date that the book was published, and edition of the book you are reviewing (if there's more than one). If you want to go into more detail, you can also include the page count and what genre or niche this book falls under (e.g. aesthetic administration).

The info you include in your book review might only be 1-2 sentences, up to a short paragraph. You might also choose to list the info so it's easy to read, as in the example below:

  • Title: Name of the book being reviewed
  • Author(s): Name(s) of the authors and/or editors of the book
  • Publisher: Name of the university press/ publisher
  • Edition: Indicate if this is the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, etc. edition of the book (if there's more than one)
  • Date: The date the book was published

Synopsis

The synopsis section is where you can provide a concise (and I mean very concise, maybe 5-10 sentences) summary of the content, which might include the following information:

  • How the book is structured - the number of parts or chapters in the books
  • The main themes or topics discussed in the book
  • The purpose of the book - why does it exist and what is this book trying to help people understand
  • Who would most benefit from reading this book

Note: Not every book might be helpful for every audience - it's okay to suggest who might most benefit from reading it. But in some cases, a book may not have been written for a particular audience in mind, but there are actually some really good pieces of advice or observations that might be beneficial to say, teachers or school leaders that you want to highlight. And that's totally fine, too!

Commentary & Views

At last, we finally come to the heart of any good online book review: the part where you write about what you thought of the book! Here are a few questions to think about:

  • How do you feel this book helped (or didn't help) your understanding of a particular topic?
  • Do you think this book is unique, or is it similar to other books you've read in this niche?
  • Did the author make an effective argument and use legitimate sources?
  • How might educational administrators/ teachers/ faculty/ researchers use the information in this book to take action?

The possibilities are really endless here, so try writing a few sentences that really capture how you felt about the book, its usefulness, and include if you would use this book as a resource or reference book for your own research - your fellow researchers will be happy to know what you think!

Click here to download a free book review template!

Are there other elements of a book review that you feel are important? Share a link below to an educational administration book review you've written that you want the world to know about! And as always, let me know if you found this post helpful.

C. Valentine