Writing a book report may not seem fun at first, but it gives you a great chance to really understand a work and its author. Unlike a book review, a book report requires that you give a straightforward summary of the text. Your first step is to pick up the book and start reading. Take detailed notes as you go along. These will help you to build a solid outline, which will make the writing process much easier.
Writing the Body of Your Report:
- Open with an informative intro paragraph. In your first paragraph, you should include the author’s name and the book title. You should also open with a line that will grab your reader’s attention, such as an interesting quote from the book. It’s good to put a general, one sentence summary of the entire work in the last line of your introduction.
- For example, a sentence summary might state, “This book is about the main character’s journey to Africa and what she learned on her travels.”
- Don’t take up too much space with your introduction. It should more than two and generally less than ten sentences long.
- Describe the book’s setting. This is a great way to start the body of your paper because it will set the stage for everything else that you’ll discuss in your report. Try to describe the locations mentioned in the book so that your teacher will know exactly what you are referring to. If the story takes place on a farm, go ahead and say so. If the setting is imaginary or futuristic, make that clear as well.
- Use vivid language when you can and plenty of details. For example, you might write, “The farm was surrounded by rolling hills.”
- Include a general plot summary. This is where you describe exactly what happens when in the book. Your plot summary should mention any major events that take place in the book and how they impact the characters. This portion of your report should appear akin to a detailed outline of the book itself.
- For instance, if the main character moves to Africa, you might describe what happens before the move, how the move goes, and how they settle in once they arrive.
- Introduce any main characters. As you mention each character in your report, make sure to introduce who they are and why they are important in the book. You can also devote an entire section of your report to describing the primary characters focusing on everything from what they look like to their most important actions.
- For example, you might write that the main character of the book is, “a middle-aged woman who enjoys the finer things in life, such as designer clothes.” Then, you could connect this to your plot summary by describing how her views change after her travels, if they do.
- Examine any main themes or arguments in your body paragraphs. Look for the ‘big ideas’ as you are reading. In a fiction work, pay attention to the character’s actions and how they follow certain patterns, if they do. In a nonfiction work, look for the author’s primary thesis statement or argument. What are they trying to prove or suggest?
- For example, you might write, “The author argues that travel gives you a new perspective. That is why her main characters all seem happier and more grounded after visiting new places.”
- For a fiction work, watch to see if the author is using the story to pass along a certain moral or lesson. For example, a book about a fictional underdog athlete could be used to encourage readers to take chances to pursue their dreams.
- Comment on the writing style and tone. Look over sections of the work once more and pay particular attention to writing elements, such as word choice. Ask yourself whether or not the book was written in a formal way or more informally. See if the author seems to favor certain ideas and arguments over others. To get a feel for tone, think about how you feel when you read parts of the book.
- For example, an author who uses lots of slang terms is probably going for a more hip, approachable style.
Sample Book Report and Summaries:
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Dialect Zone International