The best way to write a book report is to be patient and methodical. A book report is a project that must start in plenty of time and result in an end product that demonstrates that the student thought deeply and truly understands the author’s purpose and the value of the book. In fact, the process of preparing the book report begins as you first start reading the book. (The discussion in this article will be confined to a book report as opposed to a book review, which is more slanted to a critical analysis and personal opinion.)
♦ First things first
As you read the book, remember that you’ll need to recall and record important information in a somewhat sequenced way (as discussed later in this article). It is an excellent idea to make notes as you read. A good approach for fiction is to jot down, chapter by chapter, the setting (time and place), main characters, and a very brief description of what happened. When you finished, you will have those valuable notes to refer to in preparing your final report.
♦ Don’t start writing yet
After you have read the book and have your notes, hold off on your writing for a day. Allow your subconscious to process everything you have read and written so far and do one more thing: Check the Internet. There may be resources that will help you over some of the rough spots you experienced in reading the book. One outstanding source is a website called “shmoop,” which, among its vast student help resources has a number of book summaries. See the web page study guide on The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins on shmoop. This and other shmoop study guides might be just the thing to shape your ideas, impressions, and knowledge of the book you just finished.
♦ Write to a template
A book report is not merely a restatement of what went on in the book. Of course, a description of the plot is necessary, but it must be concise and cover only the major events and how they affect the main characters, the book’s overall theme and purpose, and outcome. A methodical approach to writing a book report is divide your report into four main areas:
1. The introduction. Include the basic information about the book and what your report will be about. This would include the books title and author, who published it, its date and number of pages. Include one or two sentences as an introduction to your report.
2. The body of the report. This part describes what the book is about and can also include your own opinion on how well the author did in keeping your interest, developing the characters and plot and what you believe the book’s overall theme (lessons for life, etc.) was. Describe the setting, who is telling the story – is it narrated by one of the characters, or just from a third-person? Who are the main characters, and what is the mood and tone of the book? Give a summary of the plot and a sequence of what happened. Does the author use literary devices like foreshadowing? How did everything turn out in the end?
3. Your analysis and overall evaluation (opinion) of the book. Were you impressed by the author’s writing? Was the book difficult to read, or was it easy for you to follow? Did you see any obvious weaknesses in the book? For example, was there something in the plot or presentation of the characters that struck you as odd or unrealistic? Did you find the book enjoyable or a dull chore to read? Would you recommend the book? Why, or why not?
4. Conclusion. Sum up in a sentence or two and give your opinion of the book. What is the most important thing (lesson or insight) you learned from the book that you’d like to tell everyone about?
♦ More resources for book reports
There are a number of free templates on line that will help the beginning book report writer. Go to the Lanternfish web site for some handy book reports and chapter summaries templates. Also, Microsoft Word comes with some nice book report templates. Access them through the File tab/New/Reports/Academic papers and reports.