One of the first things I did this year as I was cleaning and organizing the library and working on making it welcoming and inviting for my students was to consider this post. It was just so ugly, and it's right in the middle of my space, so it's ugly and obvious. I tried to figure out what I could do with it to make it both useful and more pleasing to look at, when it hit me: I could use this post for student book reviews. The students could write short reviews of books they've read, and I could post them on the post (see what I did there?).
I created a short review form. I wanted it to be short so the students wouldn't view it as an assignment and so that the students who are not strong in writing skills or who are learning English as their second language could also complete the form. Also, I wanted there to be room for lots of reviews on the post, so the paper needed to be small. I created a form that fits four-to-a-page and looks like this:
The first day these sat out on my desk, I had four students ask what they were. When they found out that they could write reviews for a book - any book - and that I would post the review, even if they didn't like the book, they were sold. They all took one sheet of each color, sat down, and wrote reviews for me. Pretty soon other students were curious, too, because the pole was becoming colorful and eye-catching instead of being an eyesore. Some teachers requested copies of the review form to use as an extra credit assignment in their classes. Some students took review papers and used them as bookmarks, then filled them out when they were finished reading their books.
The students really enjoyed reading each other's reviews, looking for their own reviews on the post, and choosing books based on their classmates' recommendations. I think they also appreciated that there was no pressure with these review papers. I didn't check them for grammar or spelling, and I didn't mind if multiple reviews were written for one book.
I have had to reprint the review forms on several occasions because they are so popular. Now, when students tell me they don't know what to read, in addition to traditional reader's advisory (which I truly enjoy doing), I can also point them to the review post and suggest that they look for a good book there.
As always, if you wish for a copy of my review form, I am more than willing to share! You can download an editable copy of this form here.