BBC Home
Explore the BBC


Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Thursday July 21 2005 11:02 GMT

Potter book review


The children's UK cover of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The sixth instalment of the Harry Potter story is with us.

If you have students who are big Potter fans, they may like to review the book.

If they haven't read anything lately they can use our potted Potter guide and still learn the conventions of a review layout and content.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

  • Describe the plot and characters of a novel
  • Comment on the highlights and weak points of a novel
  • Evaluate a novel
  • Understand the layout of a book review

A fan reading the Half-Blood Prince

Students can test their knowledge of the Half-Blood Prince with this quiz.

You can print off and distribute copies or students can take the quiz online.

There are loads more Harry Potter quizzes in the dropdown on the right-hand side of this page.

Warm up

The first six Harry Potter books

Review round-up

Read out this story to the class.

The story and the following questions are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students:

1. Reviewers have called the book "well crafted", "one of the best" a "real triumph" and the "darkest and most unsettling yet." What do you think each of these mean?

2. Some reviewers say there are too many sub-plots. What is a sub-plot? Answer: Part of the action that is separate from the main plot. Sometimes it mirrors the main action of the play. Can students think of any main and sub-plot parallels in the books they have read?

3. Many children have branded the Half-Blood Prince the best Potter instalment so far. Do you agree? Why/why not?

Main activity

A fan reading the Half-Blood Prince

Write a review

Students write a review of the Half-Blood Prince or the last book they read using this printable template, referring to the tips at the bottom.

If they have not picked up a book for a while, they can use extracts from this potted guide to the first five Harry Potter books to complete the template.

These tips are printed on the bottom of the template:

Published Skim the first few pages to find the date the book was published.

Pages You don't have to count them! Just look at the number on the final page.

The story/plot This is WHAT happens. To help you think about the main events, first draw a time line with the beginning scene of the book at the top of a piece of paper and the final scene at the bottom.

E.g. Write Harry starts at Hogwarts at the top and Harry defeats Voldemort at the bottom.

Now add a few events in the middle of the time line - ones which link the beginning and final scenes.

You can also write a sentence about WHERE and WHEN the story takes place. E.g. At Hogwarts school of wizardry in the present day.

The characters Or WHO is in the book. To help you describe the characters, first jot down these details:

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Name of character
  • Role
  • Adjective to describe them
For example:
  • Harry Potter
  • Schoolboy wizard
  • Brave
Highlights This is where you describe your favourite part of the book. Is there a particular piece of action, description or characters' speech you really enjoy?

Any weak bits? Were there any chapters where you found yourself wishing for some action to liven up the plot? Any unrealistic characters? Any descriptions or chapters that you felt were poor?

Unputdownable? Did you grab the book whenever you had a spare moment? Did you read it rather than playing computer games or watching TV? Or did you read the first chapter before letting it gather dust on your bookshelf?

Turn this into a drama lesson

TV review programme

In groups of six, students use the reviews they have compiled to act out a TV review programme.

  • One student plays the host
  • One student plays the part of author JK Rowling
  • Two students play reviewers - one a nice Nicki Chapman type (from TV's Pop Idol), the other a mean Simon Cowell type
  • Two students play audience members
TV review outline:

The host introduces JK Rowling.

JK Rowling reads out a passage from the Half-Blood Prince - a bit like she did in Edinburgh at 00.01am on Saturday 16 July.

Reviewer 1 gives a brief outline of the story and gives their opinion.

JK Rowling has the chance to reply.

Reviewer 2 describes the main characters and gives their opinion on them.

JK Rowling has the chance to reply

Audience member 1 describes a highlight from the book and asks the reviewers for their favourite extracts.

Reviewers reply.

Audience member 2 describes a weak bit and asks the reviewers for their least favourite extracts.

Reviewers reply.

Host sums up the programme by saying whether the book is unputdownable or not, giving reasons for their judgement.

Extension activity

Newsround review section

Students add their own comments about books reviewed by the Newsround team by clicking on the right hand box.


Students use the template to write a review for an imaginary novel which combines the characters and plot from two different books or films.

E.g. Luke Skywalker tracks down a Victorian teenage boy on the run from a London poorhouse.


Recap on the definition of plot, sub plot and character.

Students read out their reviews to the class.

Ask students: What information would you like to see in a book review (other than the headings in the Newsround review template)?

Teachers' background

JK Rowling

Check out the resources in Newsround's Harry Potter special section which include:

  • Quizzes
  • Comments
  • Message boards
  • Interviews
  • Features
  • Picture galleries
  • Games
  • Votes
  • Guides
  • Children's reports
For hundreds for news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left-hand side.

BBC Homepage >> | CBBC Homepage >>

Meet the Team | Help | Contact Us | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy