A book report is a formal essay discussing the contents of a book. It summarizes the important aspects of a book such as the title, author, plot, and characters while showing that a student understands what he or she has read. It is not a book review, which requires the writer to give personal opinions about the book. We show you how to write a book report by following five simple steps. These steps will help ensure that your book report is a positive reflection of your writing skills.
1. Choose the Book
If you are allowed to choose your book, select a title that you are genuinely excited to read. This could be a fiction or nonfiction book, as long as the subject is appropriate for a classroom setting.
However, choosing is not always an option. In this case, you should try to be open-minded. Although some students believe they will not like an assigned book, they often end up enjoying the book once they give it a chance.
2. Read the Book
It seems logical that reading the book is needed in order to write a book report. Some students may choose to just skim a book, read only certain parts, or access information about the book online. However, to really know and understand the book, a thorough reading should be done in a quiet place free from distractions.
While reading the book, take notes to assist in your writing process. If you are reading a hardcover or paperback book, you can use sticky notes to mark pages you want to refer to in your report. If you are reading an ebook, you can use the annotation function to mark key passages.
For a fiction book, try to answer the following questions:
For non-fiction books, the type of book will determine the type of information that is important. For example, if a student writes a book report on a biography, then the different stages of the person's life and important people in the person's life should be in the report. Often, a student can use the chapter titles as a good indication of the important parts of the book.
For a non-fiction book, consider some of the following questions:
3. Write an Outline
An outline gives a clear picture of what the intended book report will look like. You can create your outline by using the notes you took while reading the book. Organize the information you have into logical sections, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
You do not have to be extremely detailed in your outline. Outlines are flexible and it is acceptable to add or subtract information at a later date. Some students find it helpful to create their outline on index cards so they can easily move information around until they've found the best structure for the book report.
4. Write and Edit the Book Report
A writer's first few writing attempts are considered the draft, which is the fleshed-out version of the outline. Here, the writer puts all of his or her ideas into sentence and paragraph form.
Writers often produce more than one draft as they write, edit, and rewrite the paper. This is often called process writing. Writers move in and out of these different stages throughout the writing process. This part may take longer because writers often edit and proofread while they are writing the draft.
Separating the drafting process from the editing process can be beneficial for those who dwell over grammar and structure issues before getting the necessary information down on paper or on the computer screen.
5. Format the Book Report
Some simple formatting, such as short paragraphs and clear handwriting or fonts, makes your book report easier to read and gives it a professional appearance. Review our Format for Writing a Book Report article for some general formatting tips.
Learning how to write a book report is important for students throughout their academic careers. Being able to report factual information in an organized manner is a valued skill both in the classroom and the workplace.