Writing Book Reports: Conquering the Dreaded Book Report

Many children love to read, but few love to write about the books they are reading. In fact, I can remember, when I was in school, hating the dreaded BOOK REPORT. I hated it because the teachers never really told us how to write a book report. When it comes to writing book reports the instructions usually are as follows: “Read the book and then write about the book” always giving a number of pages that were needed. Of course by the time you get to the end of the book, you have lost much of what has happened. In the early grades this is not as big of deal as in older grades, but why even start out wrong. Do it right from the beginning, making it a habit, and the dreaded BOOK REPORT becomes manageable and actually fun. Yes, fun, because they actually get to put their ideas down into a format that makes writing easy.

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First thing to do when writing book reports is to read the book continuously. Do not stop and start another book. Stay with the required reading first, and any fun reading for after your BOOK REPORT is done. It does not have to be done all in one day, but within the specified timeframe with time to spare to write the BOOK REPORT once you’re done reading.

Next, break the book down into manageable section, such as by chapter for longer books or by page for picture books. Read the chapter and then write a few sentences about that chapter. Things to include can be the characters introduced, what those characters are doing, where they are going, landscape or location, timeframe or date (such as medieval, present, future), and anything interesting the characters say, just make sure to put quote marks and page number with the quotes.

Let me take a moment to discuss the use of quotes. Whenever you are using the exact words in a book then you have to enclose them in quotation marks and give a reference to the author that wrote them. At a young age, this should be explained. There are many students that still do not understand that using the phrase without quotes is plagiarism. Start now and even if it is not in a specific format, make sure the author is given credit (usually authors name and page of quote).

This process can be used for children as young as Kindergarten. If they cannot read, they tell you the sentences and you write them as they tell you. Then at the end of the book, you slowly go through each section (or page) and have them tell you one or two things really important to them. Write it just as they say it. Don’t worry about grammar, get them to love to read, and love to write about what they are reading.

By setting up one page in a notebook for each chapter, the student ends up with a lot of notes about the book and can even use their notes to write the BOOK REPORT. These notes give the student an edge. They now have everything they need (with page numbers if needed) to write their BOOK REPORT. So, no more late nights with everyone crying and screaming, it is one to two hours and it is done. Check over the work as they get older to ensure their grammar is good and the paper is formatted correctly. By doing what some consider all this extra work, the student is taught how to take notes and when it is time to learn about research papers, they will already have the basics in note taking. Just remember, when it comes to learning to write book reports, starting early is an important part, because it will make your job and theirs much easier as they go up in grades and get older.

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