How to Write a Book Report

How to Write a Book Report
I love to read, but when I was in school I dreaded book reports. Why did I have to do those horrid book reports anyway? As a teacher, I know that we don’t assign book reports just to terrorize our students. There really is a good rationale for writing book reports. When you have to report on a book, a student will carefully read it at a deeper level. They will analyze what they have read. Book reports also provide valuable opportunities for students to practice written communication. It may let them practice following a prescribed format, when the teacher tells the students what components that she expects from the book report.

If the teacher does give you a format, follow it exactly. Part of the assignment could be how well that you follow directions. Often, the parts of the report will be delineated, including what should be covered in each part. The overall length might be discussed. Any special requirements, like citations will be made clear.

Often, books are assigned. If a book is assigned, you might want to read some literary reviews to help jump-start your ideas. If it is not assigned, select a book that speaks to you. It could be one where you love the characters. You might enjoy the author’s writing style. Possibly, the subject matter appeals to you. Choose a book that you enjoy.

In general, book reports share some commonalities. They are expected to be written in standard English with good spelling and accurate punctuation. Book reports should have a variety of sentence types and be interesting to read.

If you do not have a specific format, you might find this general format useful. Of course, adapt it to your needs. Be sure to add some short quotations from the book to give your audience a flavor of what the book is like to read.

I. Introduction: An introduction will tell the name of the book and the author’s name. If there is an interesting fact about why the author wrote the book, this is a good place to let your audience know that. Tell whether the book is fiction or non-fiction. Let the people know what genre the book is—mystery, romance, science fiction, self-help, how to do-it-yourself, or biography. Those are some examples. What genre is your book?

II. Main characters: Tell a little about the main characters. How old are they? What do they look like? Where do they live? What do they do to move the story forward? Also, tell what you like or don't like about them. Make these characters come alive for your audience.

III. Setting and Plot: Where and when does the story take place? Tell about the beginning of the story. What events are the most important to the story? How do they move the story along. Tell about some of the most important events in the story. Remember not to give spoilers away. You want your audience to like this book, but you don’t want to give all of the details away to them!

IV. Conflict: Every story has a problem that the main character or characters are trying to overcome or something that they need to achieve. Tell about this, so that your audience can feel the tension that the characters are going through.

V. Resolution:Without giving too many details away, let your audience know how the conflict was resolved.

VI. Conclusion:Finally, as you are ending your book report, tell your opinion of the book. Why did you like it or not like it? Which were your favorite characters? How did the setting impact the book? Was the setting almost like another character in the way that it affected the mood of the book? Tell what surprised, delighted, or dismayed you. Do you recommend this book? Why or why not? Please remember, do not say that you recommend it because it was “good.” You need to describe why you recommend it and tell why it was good. Likewise, do not say that you don’t recommend it because it was “boring” or “bad.” Tell why you feel that way about the book.

Book reports are opportunities to dive beneath the surface reading of a book to get to the very heart of the text. They can be challenging to write, but they allow you to see a book in a complex way. You can use your creativity to share those insights with an audience through the magic of your special book report.

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