Evaluating Books

EVALUATING SOURCES OF INFORMATION: BOOKS

Check the publisher.

Publishers are responsible for the information they publish. They can be sued if they tell lies or give false information. Even more importantly, they damage their reputations if they sell books with false information. People won’t buy their books anymore because they aren’t trustworthy. And then the company won’t make any money, so publishers want to have a good reputation.
Some publishers have such a good reputations that people willingly trust everything that they sell. For example, the World Book Encyclopedia Company and National Geographic Company are very trustworthy and you can count on them to sell you books of excellent quality. There are some publishers that only produce novels that are of excellent quality; as soon as a teacher-librarian sees their names, they know they can trust that the books will be good. Other publishers are sometimes known for selling books that aren’t so well-written and then teacher-librarians want another way to check the quality of the books before buying them and may want to read book reviews or the books themselves before purchasing them for their libraries.
On the internet, you have to be especially careful. All sorts of people put information on the internet. You can’t always be sure that what you read is true. You have to check the reputation of the website! Go to the page in this section on evaluating websites to learn more.

Check the author.

All sorts of people write all sorts of things. One way to check if you can trust a source of information is to check the background of the author. Does an author have any special training that leads you to believe their information is reliable? Has the author published any other books on the topic? Does anyone else say that the author is reliable? Check the dustcover of the book for information about the author.

Check the copyright date.

A novel may be published long ago and still be of great value. Books on various topics may be old and still be of value. But for some topics, it is especially important to check when the book was written. For instance, a book about space travel that doesn’t mention that there are space shuttles would not be a reliable source for current information. A book that is ten years old couldn’t tell you the population of Canada. But a book about a person from Renaissance times or a book about the pyramids might be very useful even if it is quite old.
Always consider whether you need information that is up-to-date before you start choosing a source of information.

©2008 Sophie Rosen

ANALYZING AN AUTHOR’S CREDENTIALS

1. Read the paragraph below.
2. Underline the words or phrases that show that the author enjoys sports.
3. Circle the words or phrases that show he has formal training in sports.
4. Draw a square around the words or phrases that show he has work-related experience in sports.

“Sam Robertson is a lover of sports. He watches them all the time. He makes sure to catch every game he can on television. He reads the newspaper’s sports pages every day. He even spends lots of time playing sports with his own kids. Robertson likes sports so much that he decided to write a book about how to stay healthy while playing sports. He couldn’t find a publisher so he published this book himself. He hopes you really enjoy it.”

1. Read the paragraph below.
2. Underline the words or phrases that show that the author enjoys sports.
3. Circle the words or phrases that show she has formal training in sports.
4. Draw a square around the words or phrases that show she has work-related experience in sports.

“Tammy Chan has enjoyed sports for as long as she can remember. She was an athlete when she was in school and played college basketball while attending Simon Fraser University on an athletic scholarship. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Science, she went on to study sports medicine at the University of British Columbia. She is now a physiotherapist specializing in sports-related injuries. After ten years of working with injured teenagers, she decided to write a book specifically for them. She hopes teenagers find her award-winning book, Playing to Live, informative and helpful.”

1. Which author is more qualified to write a book about avoiding injuries
while playing sports? ______________________________
2. List at least four pieces of evidence to support your answer.

©2008 Sophie Rosen

EVALUATE A BOOK

1. What is the topic of the book? _________________________________

2. Who is publisher? (Check the title page) __________________________

3. When was the book published? (Check the copyright date on the verso of the title page) _____________

4. What are the credentials of the author? (Take brief notes giving any evidence you can find that the author should be trusted on the topic of the book.)
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
5. Do you think this book is a reliable source of information on this topic?
______________________________________________
______________________________________________

1. What is the topic of the book? _________________________________

2. Who is publisher? (Check the title page) __________________________

3. When was the book published? (Check the copyright date on the verso of the title page) _____________

4. What are the credentials of the author? (Take brief notes giving any evidence you can find that the author should be trusted on the topic of the book.)
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
5. Do you think this book is a reliable source of information on this topic?
______________________________________________
______________________________________________

©2008 Sophie Rosen

[These pages may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2008 Sophie Rosen.]

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