Writing a Book Report

Reading a book with the purpose of writing a report is different than reading for pleasure (that is not to say that it can't be pleasurable!) Be sure to plan ahead and read a little bit each day. This will prevent you from having to cram all of your reading and writing into the few short days before your book report is due. You also tend to have a clearer idea of what happened, as the story has time to "settle" in your mind. If you need help staying focused, then create a reading schedule and tackle 2, 5, 10 or 61 pages per day. Set reading goals on your calendar or in your school agenda.

Where do you begin?

FIND A BOOK that interests you or that you could become interested in. Read the first two paragraphs of any book before you discard it. If you can not understand more than ten words in these paragraphs the book is too difficult for you. Be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole and discard books simply because you donít want to read. Remember you have to read a book and do this report. It is a grade 8 curriculum outcome.

Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:

In the novel Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor, the theme of racial prejudice is a major catalyst in the story.

Make sure that your writing is clear and expressive and that you include examples from the book to support your opinions. Book reports may seem disconnected from your other school work, but they help you learn to summarize, compare and contrast, make predictions and connections, and consider different perspectives Ė skills you'll need throughout your life.

Give yourself a chance to say what you want to express about the book. If you use the thesaurus you may find new ways to actually critique the book without using words like dumb, or stupid. Never give an opinion using these words. Try to find new ways to express your dislike and always use examples to back up your opinion.! For example: In the book "The Cay" by Theodore Taylor I was not impressed with the fact that Philip would call Timothy racial names like "big black and ugly". This book failed to use politically correct language, and never seemed to reach a climax. It made me feel there was nothing important going to happen. Furthermore I guessed the ending right from chapter one and I became disinterested halfway through. Now letís review!


Write yourself Notes and Main Ideas as you read!

This way, you can make notes of the basic elements of your bookóplot, setting, characters, timeline, etc., as well as write down questions that arise in your reading. Your notes will be helpful in allowing you to remember details when the time comes to write the report. Write down your reactions to specific events in the book. For example, what was the book's climax, and how did you react? How did the event affect the characters? By making notes, you are making it easier to organize your thoughts when it comes time to write your report. You will be marked on this Journal and it will be averaged into your score.

I am not looking for the same parts of the book to be repeated over and over. Be sure you are covering the book thoroughly! Give lots of different details. Remember that a book report serves to give an overview of the plot and character and setting and themes, as well as some of your own thoughts and ideas. Have fun with your report! Be creative! This is how you will be judged.



Specific Directions

Three ways to write effective book reports are to include discussions of plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses. (click on link to learn about each) Writing a book report helps you practice giving your opinion about different aspects of a book, such as the author's use of description or dialogue. There are a few basic elements you need to include in order to convey why the book you read was interesting. READ ALL OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS. I WILL MARK YOUR PAPER CAREFULLY AND EXPECT YOU TO FOLLOW THEM CLOSELY. The rubric is at the end.



  1. Always include the following elements in the Introductory paragraph.
  2. the type of book report you are writing

    the title of the book

    the author of the book

    the time when the story takes place

    the location where the story takes place - setting described telling why it is important.


2. In your next four paragraphs write about three characters telling:

First the names and a brief description of the appearance of each of the characters. These may include primary and secondary characters who played a key role in the main plot.

(Using the main character only.) Next make sure you choose 4 traits from the list.. You must then prove in what two ways the main character has shown each trait you chose. This is proving how the character shows that he/she is like this.


3. In next three paragraphs describe the plot in detail. Do not make the mistake of writing one long paragraph! You should:

Use many quotations and examples from the book to show what the general idea of this book is. This is a focused summary including quotes!

Make sure you describe the main plot and donít describe the action by saying .... And then, .. So then,... Next.. Well then they.... ( Get the picture?) Do not begin paragraphs using the same word like so, then, next or any other such word because these make your description repetitive and do not describe the main action.


4. To end your report you should describe the themes that the author put in the book. The theme of a piece of fiction is its view about life and how people behave. the theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it is not presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. In other words, you must figure out the theme yourself. Here are some ways to uncover the theme in a story: Check out the title. Sometimes it tells you a lot about the theme. Notice repeating patterns and symbols. Sometimes these lead you to the theme. What allusions are made throughout the story? What are the details and particulars in the story? What greater meaning may they have? (nature is cruel, friends can be loyal, siblings can be caring, hate is the poison of life, change can be a good thing etc.


Explanations of Terms

A Plot Summary

When you are writing a plot summary for your book report you don't want to simply retell the story. You need to explain what your opinion is of the story and why you feel the plot is so compelling, or unrealistic, or sappy. It is the way you analyze the plot that will make this a good report. Make sure that you use plenty of examples from the book to support your opinions. Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following:

The plot of I Married a Sea Captain, by Monica Hubbard, is interesting because it gives the reader a realistic sense of what it was like to be the wife of a whaling captain and live on Nantucket during the 19th century.

A Character Analysis
If you choose to write a character analysis, you can explore the physical and personality traits of different characters and the way their actions affect the plot of the book.

Explore the way a character dresses and what impression that leaves with the reader.

What positive characteristics does the character possess?

Does the character have a "fatal flaw" that gets him/her into trouble frequently?

Try taking examples of dialogue and analyzing the way a character speaks. Discuss the words he/she chooses and the way his/her words affect other characters.

Finally, tie all of your observations together by explaining the way the characters make the plot move forward.

Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the following: In the novel Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White, Templeton the rat may seem like an unnecessary character but his constant quest for food moves the plot forward in many ways.


Exploring the themes (or big ideas that run throughout the story) in a book can be a great way to write a book report because picking a theme that you care about can make the report easier to write. Try bringing some of your thoughts and feelings as a reader into the report as a way to show the power of a theme. Before you discuss your own thoughts, however, be sure to establish what the theme is and how it appears in the story.

Explain exactly what theme you will be exploring in your book report.

Use as many examples and quotations from the book as possible to prove that the theme is important to the story.

Make sure that you talk about each example or quotation you've included. Make a direct connection between the theme and the example from the book.

After you have established the theme and thoroughly examined the way it affects the book, include a few sentences about the impact the theme had upon you and why it made the book more or less enjoyable to read.


I will use the following rubric to evaluate the Book Report.





Described the setting and told about your time period, using language that informs.


Main characters: Described all related characters who contributed to the plot in some way.


Plot: Described the main events of the story identifying the story elements that involve the characters leading to the climax and the conclusion. Wording shows knowledge of the underlying issues in the book.


Impression of the book and larger idea within the book were analyzed satisfactorily.


Explanations of the bookís setting, mood and authorís style of writing showed you understood the authorís purpose.


Your final mark is based on the above outcomes and your analysis of the book.




              Reader's Workshop