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Finding “just right” books for children: analyzing sentiments in online book reviews

Yunseon Choi (Department of Library and Information Studies, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, USA)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 27 June 2019

Issue publication date: 14 August 2019




This study is part of a larger research project which aims to investigate whether sentiments in online reviews on children’s books would represent significant factors which are useful for selecting the right books for children. This paper aims to examine whether positive, negative or neutral attitude would be directly associated with the overall ratings of books.


The study investigates subjectivity and polarity of online reviews on children’s books such as neutral, positive or negative sentiment. For the investigation of a statistical association between the sentiment values and the rating scores, this study performs correlation analysis. For a clear explanation of the factors affecting the relationships between the sentiment value and the rating score, this study uses the concept-level sentiment analysis of online reviews.


The findings of this study demonstrate that there is a weak or low correlation between the sentiment value and the rating score of a book and they are hardly related for most books. The results of this study also uncover key contributing factors that affected the correlations between two variables and made the relationship weak.

Research limitations/implications

This study increases awareness of the implications of online reviews as user-generated contents for complementing the existing controlled vocabulary.

Practical implications

This study contributes to improving library catalogs by using latent topics extracted from online reviews which provide additional access points for assisting in the selection of books.


Although several studies have conducted on online reviews in the domain of business, no research appears to exist on the sentiment analysis of online reviews about children’s books. This study attempts to address the potential and challenges associated with using online reviews to help find the right books for children.



The research was partially supported by a Faculty Research Seed Grant from the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration at Valdosta State University.


Choi, Y. (2019), "Finding “just right” books for children: analyzing sentiments in online book reviews", The Electronic Library, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 563-576.



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