February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Guidelines and Application for Reviewers


Guidelines for School Library Journal Reviews

School Library Journal Book Review is a selection tool used in both public and school libraries. Each year it offers signed professional reviews of approximately 6000 current titles published for children and young adults across a wide range of genres and subject areas.

Reviewing for SLJ is a demanding and time-consuming activity, but it is one that can provide a good deal of professional satisfaction. We ask that our reviewers not review the same book for other publications and that they not send copies of their reviews to publishers or authors or communicate directly with them.

Our service to the publishing and library communities would not be possible without the generosity of our more than 300 volunteer librarian reviewers who are working in the field. The quality of School Library Journal Book Review ultimately depends on their expertise, intellectual integrity, and professional commitment.

Our reviews are designed to present information needed for selection decisions. Within the allotted 200-250 words, a review must include a brief statement of the content or plot, a critical appraisal of the literary and/or artistic quality, and of the clarity and organization of information. (Illustrative material is as important as the text. Please make sure that your critical evaluation includes a discussion of its quality, effectiveness, clarity, etc. This is particularly important for picture books but it also applies to any book that contains illustrations, photos, maps, etc.) Be sure to put your recommended grade level at the beginning of each review.

Libraries are working with limited funds, so often a pertinent feature in a review will be an evaluative comparison of the new title with titles already held in most collections. Please be sure that the citations include exact titles, publisher, and year of publication.

In addition, we ask for special attention to accuracy in the reviews: quoted passages should be checked against the text (with page numbers included.) An assertion that a book is filled with errors should be supported with examples.

While it is our policy to edit as little as possible, reviews are often reorganized, condensed, or clarified when necessary, and minor changes are made in accordance with house style, but the reviewers’ stated opinions will be preserved.


SLJ Reviewer Application

If you’re interested in reviewing for School Library Journal, please read our guidelines above first. To apply, fill out the online questionnaire below, and be sure to upload two sample reviews in SLJ style. If you have difficulty uploading these samples to the form, you can also email them to Kiera Parrott, Book Review Editor, at kparrott@mediasourceinc.com.