Many students in literature and reading classes are asked to write book reports after finishing an assignment or while participating in a school-wide reading blitz. A book report is not the same as a book review, however, so it helps to understand the difference before starting down the wrong path. A book report is primarily concerned with the actual contents of the book, while a book review is more likely to feature opinions and criticisms about the book, the author, and the book's appeal for readers.
A good book report, on the other hand, will contain some criticism or opinion, but the majority of the report should deal with the subject matter and how it was presented. Here are some tips on writing a good book report:
- Read the book, but also read about the author. Once you've finished reading the book you've selected, you may want to do some research on the author as well before starting your book report. It is important to understand what was going on in the world when the author wrote the book. Who were some of the famous people alive during that time? How did people communicate or do research at that time? How long did it take the author to write the book? Did the author write anything else? These are questions you'll want to research before starting on the book report itself.
- Understand how your teacher wants the finish book report to look. You'll want to know if you need a special title for the book report, how many words or pages you'll need to write, and when you need to have it finished. Sometimes you may have to write down all of the information about the book, such as the title, the author's name, the name of the book company, and the date it was published. Your teacher should tell you how to write down that information if you need it.
- Pretend you're giving a speech about the book to your friends. If you're having trouble starting the book report, try to think of it as a speech. What would you tell people about this book if they asked you? Sometimes you can just start out with the facts: "I read this book called 'Thomas Jefferson's Life' and I learned a lot about him. Thomas Jefferson was our third president and he helped write the Declaration of Independence. The book said he was born in Virginia..." When you run into another set of facts about Jefferson, like what he was like as a boy, then you can start another paragraph.
- If the book didn't make sense in places, or got a fact wrong, you can mention it in the book report. All writers can make a mistake, and not all books are exciting to read from the beginning to the end. It's okay to mention if a book became boring or the writer forgot to mention something really important in the story. Most of the time, though, a good book report will concentrate on the useful parts of the book. Your teacher wants to know you learned something from your reading.
- At the end of a book report, you can add your own opinions. Were you glad you picked that book to read? Did you like the illustrations? Was the book really funny or scary? Would you recommend the book to other people your age? At the end of the book report, you can say things like "Before I read this book, I thought Mexico was a desert island far away, but now I know it's an exciting place to visit, with lots of things to do. I can't wait to read another book about different countries."