Here is a more detailed explanation of the rubric I will use to score each book I read. Each of the fifteen categories is worth up to two points, meaning any given book can earn up to thirty points in total.

Remember: just like with student writing, a low score in one category doesn’t mean the book is terrible!




1. Main Character(s)

well-developed, round, and realistically flawed

evidence of development, but lacking in some aspect

flat; lifeless; Mary Sue/Gary Stu

2. Subcast

well-developed foils; just about all side characters enhance the story

too many side characters that aren’t fully realized; some unnecessary characters

side characters are flat, lifeless cardboard cutouts; useless and add nothing to story

3. Setting Development

can easily be imagined in one’s head, both time and place

some development, but couldn’t draw a map; minor anachronisms

no sense of time or place

4. Exploration of Conflict

conflicts make sense; explained carefully and appropriate to story

some explanation of conflicts; if they appeared out of nowhere, they were explained thoroughly

conflicts made no sense and/or seemed ridiculous and/or were out of place given the rest of the story elements

5. Satisfying Resolution

loose ends tied up; end feels natural, regardless of whether it is a happy ending or not

some threads left hanging for potential sequels; ending is “too convenient” (deus ex machina)

resolution non-existent; resolution makes no sense whatsoever

6. Consideration of Themes

themes obvious from text; author takes time to thoroughly relate them to audience

some themes explained well; not all themes obvious or explained well

no sense of theme; themes are barely discussed

7. Didactic Tone

themes/messages are explored in such a way that the reader is not lectured

tone is lifted from a children’s television show

author actively talks down to the reader; message is garbled completely

8. Suspension of Disbelief

easy to believe the premise of the book

jarred out of book a few times due to anachronisms, theme, physics issues, etc.

could not suspend disbelief while reading; actually argued with the book for not making sense

9. Imagery and Description

can recreate scenes mentally; in graphic novels, the art is gorgeous

some scenes well-described, but others are hard to follow or are vague; in graphic novels, action is hard to follow

very little imagery throughout; can’t begin to describe scenes after reading; in graphic novels, the art makes the story impossible to follow

10. Compelling Storytelling

unable to put book down; read until late in the night

parts of the book were engaging, but no desperate “need” to continue reading

struggled to continue and/or complete the book

11. Author’s Style

format suits book perfectly; author mastered this particular style; author’s voice is strong and engaging

story was good, but an alternate format would have worked better; author’s voice was weak in places

format is completely wrong for the book; author has no understanding of genre and/or voice

12. Rhythm and Pace of Book

story moved along; author gave readers room to breathe without losing steam

story dragged in parts; uneven pace and/or flow

story couldn’t end quickly enough; dull, pointless, and/or sluggish

13. Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation)

no errors

(note: dialect does not count against this)

some errors, but not enough to interfere with comprehension of the text

errors interfered with understanding; significant number of errors

14. Predictability

author kept reader guessing throughout

some events predicted by reader, but not all

reader could accurately predict the course of the book with minimal reading

15. Reader Enjoyment

loved the book; 11/10 would reread

book was okay; would reread for curriculum but not for pleasure

book wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on; personally wouldn’t consider using in class or having it available on shelves