How To Write a Book Report

Posted by admin on August 9, 2007 in Uncategorized |

Whether you’re currently in junior high or in college, sooner or later you’ll be asked to write a book report. But, while reading for pleasure is enjoyable for most people, you may already have a stack of study materials that command your attention and tire your eyes. That brings us to the most crucial element in preparing to write a book report—choosing the right book.

Unless you’re accustomed to pleasure reading several hours a day, it’s probably not a good idea to select Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ or one of Ann Rice’s gothic (and lengthy!) novels to write a book report on. Instead, visit the school or local library for some ideas from the ‘Book of the Month’ rack. Or, perhaps your teacher has provided you with a list of acceptable titles.

Once you’ve finished reading the book, you’ll need to decide what kind of book report to write (unless give specific instructions from your teacher). Will you be discussing the theme of the book, such as the complexity of relationships portrayed in Bernard Shaw’s ‘Major Barbara’? Will you write a character analysis, such as the destructive nature of Carlson, the mechanic from John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’? Or, will you be providing a plot summary? The type of book report you choose to write will determine how you will structure your thoughts.

First, make a list of some basic elements of the book. Where is it set? Is this place real or fictional? Who are the main character(s)? What time period are they living in? What challenges must they overcome? You get the idea.

The first paragraph of your book report will broaden the main ideas noted above and define your perspective. However, this isn’t the place for details. Your aim is to state the relative theme, introduce the character you’re analyzing, or to summarize the overall plot of the book without recounting the entire story.

The body of your book report should be 3-4 paragraphs in length and is where you’ll provide details and examples that support the main objective of your opening paragraph. Describe your character’s traits that affect their experiences. Discuss how the book’s theme is apparent by citing related action and dialogue. If writing a plot summary, show–not tell—how the plot affected you by providing examples from the book that support your insights into or your opinion of the story.

Finally, your last paragraph should tie-in the rest of the book report while restating the main idea of your first. Here, a conclusion should be drawn. Show how a character influenced the outcome of the story. Wrap up why you liked or didn’t like the plot based on the evidence presented in the body of the book report. Or, if you’ve chosen to explore the theme, then conclude how you benefited from reading the book.

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