Tips on Writing a Book Report

Book reports have been a stress factor to many students along the years, whether they were still in high school or struggling through their college exams. Such academic work is not a problem because of the needed volume of a piece. It's the actual pressure of adding all those essential details into a report that isn't longer than a few pages.

So how can you do that? How do you show your teacher or professor that you've managed to get inside the author’s mind and figure out their ideas and inspiration? We all want good or at least passable grades.

The purpose of our article is to help you figure out a few strategies to get what you wish for out of your school work. We'll tell you everything you need to know about structuring a book report. You'll learn ways of efficiently approaching the author's themes, characters, and plot in just a few steps. Let's get started!

What Book Reports Are

There is a common confusion between book reports and book reviews. Both are fairly informative texts, but we want to make sure the difference is clear.

Book reviews do indeed start with a summary of the analyzed content. Afterward, or during that, a critical tone is easily noticed. Reviews are personal opinions regarding the value of a book, in which the writer addresses other potential readers and recommends it to them. Or, in the complete opposite direction, discourages them from approaching that material. Reviews can be done both by students and professionals and published in newspapers or academic journals. They can refer to either fictional or non-fiction work.

Book reports, on the other hand, only seem to care about the summary itself, without going into subjective opinions. Most of the time, they’re assigned to high-school students as projects or homework and can be as short as 500 words. Can you imagine putting 500 pages into the same number of words? Probably, you’re going to have to say yes.

Your teachers decide on assignments like these because they're said to increase communication skills. They let you practice the analytical side of your mind while processing a significant amount of information and expressing thoughts related to aspects you've understood out of this read.

Components of a Great Book Report

Sometimes, book reports are even required in middle school, not just high-school. Naturally, the difficulty will accord to the students' grade. However, most of them focus either on basic plot summaries, character studies or theme analysis.

Although you're not doing a review, a book report is still a recommendation. Your teacher, or anyone reading it, will conclude what's interesting about that book from what you've written in its report. There are a few key elements you should definitely include.

An introduction must briefly mention the book's author, and the year when they managed to get it published. Start with the action's setting, by telling your readers when and where events take place in that book.

Briefly outline the content's summary, while introducing those characters you consider most relevant to the story. Add facts about them, examples of what they do. Remember, quotes are the best way of supporting any idea you're promoting.

Writing a Book Report Step by Step

Now, there is a specific structure you could follow to build a successful report, but also steps you should go through beforehand. We'll discuss both.

What to Do Before Writing Your Book Report

  •  If possible, and not previously decided by your teacher, make an informed choice and pick a book you want to read. Maybe there's a title pulling you in, an author you already know, or you have a favorite genre. Start from there.
  •  Once you’ve begun reading, make notes as you go. Pay attention to action setting, and the main events. Write down a few details about the most important characters, what they do and how they react to what’s happening. Figure out the central theme and any hidden symbols.
  •  It's best to support any arguments you make with quotes, so include some of those as well.
  •  Once you've finished reading, start organizing notes. Organize them into lists and make them more intuitive by using headings.

Tackling the Book Report Assignment

Once ready, you can get to the report itself. Your purpose: convince the teacher that this book is worth their time. They most likely know it is (or isn't) but want to hear it from you either way. Give your own interpretation of its contents to be original.

  •  A proper introduction is your first step. As previously suggested, get your readers acquainted with the author, title, and publication date. This is also the right place to briefly describe genre and subject and give hints regarding themes and meanings.
  •  In the book report body, you'll focus on summarizing. We advise you not to make it too short, but teachers' requirements for word counts come first. The author's style and tone can also be described here.
  •  As a conclusion, you might describe ways in which the book made you feel, things you've learned from it. Wrap things up in a sentence or two. In case your teacher requests or allows it, you can give a personal opinion or recommendation, too.
  •  Lastly, don’t forget to edit your entire work. Spelling and grammar are crucial but don't mean everything. Quotes can be added along the way or during this final step. Most importantly, make sure your content flows logically, without repetitions.

Book Reports for College

In college, book reports tend to get a bit more complicated than they were in high-school. On the other hand, their main purpose is still about developing and evaluating a student's critical thinking and analytical skills.

The steps for tackling such an assignment are mostly the same as those previously described. What comes as a difference is that some professors also require you to evaluate a text and its themes critically while summarizing it. Another essential factor is the formatting. You'll be required to use a particular font type and size, even a particular paragraph spacing. Academic styles, like APA or MLA, will dictate how you organize citations or bibliography.

As basic guidelines, you should include details about the audience that the book's author wanted for his work. You'll probably need to research information regarding the author's inspiration sources and the circumstances which resulted in that book getting written and published.

Also, you'll talk about themes and meanings, how they create the writer's message to the world, and how they did or did not call someone to action, - all in the summary of your chosen book. Lastly, you'll finish with a proper critical analysis supported with quotes. In college, you'll need to think those through even more carefully.

Summary plays a significant role both in a book report and in a review. Keep ideas and events in the same order in which the author initially presented them. Explain ways in which them tries to make a point by using those ideas. Analyze how they're structured together too.

Try not to get discouraged by book reports, since they're not as scary as they seem. Their main point is to teach you a few skills, starting with summarizing ideas, comparing them, analyzing their meaning, and then communicating them to others through logical arguments. Hopefully, our article can help you get closer to this goal.

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