In high school, book reports are a fact of life. They are useful in developing reading comprehension, analytical skills and writing ability. Though sometimes viewed as tedious, they can be simple and even interesting when written in the right form. Reviews can address many different aspects of a book, depending on the assignment or prominent themes within the book.
Book Reports vs. Book Reviews
Before beginning the assignment, clarify with the teacher whether you are to do a book report or book review. A book report is a factual summary of the setting, characters, plot and conclusion, while a book review focuses more on the reader's impression of the book.
No matter what the focus of the book report is, the introduction is essential to set the stage for the rest of the report. In this section, provide the book's title, author and setting. It is also helpful to give a broad summary of the book as a point of reference for the more detailed supporting paragraphs of the report. Since this is only an introduction, avoid providing too much detail; leave that for the supporting paragraphs.
Book Report Form: Characters and Conflict
If the book features many different characters, or if it focuses on in-depth exploration of a certain character, write the book report exploring this aspect. The first paragraph should be the introductory paragraph. In the second paragraph, describe the main characters of the book and introduce these characters' main conflicts. The third paragraph can explore the development of the characters -- perhaps how they grow or change from the beginning to the end of the story. The fourth paragraph should explore the characters' interaction and conflict and how these play into the overall plot and theme of the book. As you read through the book, be thinking about what the main conflict might be and how it involves the characters; also think about what literary devices the author uses to develop the characters.
Book Report Form: Plot
Many great books have intriguing plots, often involving high action or unforeseen twists. Such a book with a complicated or exciting plot might be a good candidate for a plot-centric book report. Provide an introductory paragraph, briefly touching on only the most essential aspects of the setting and characters. In the next paragraph, describe important events that lead to the book's climax. The climax is the most dramatic or significant point of the story -- the event that the entire book has been leading up to. Resist the urge to list every detail of the plot, and focus only on main events that lead into the climax. In a new paragraph, explain how the tension unwinds and the book's plot resolves after the climax. To avoid simply recounting the story in the book report, include commentary on devices or tactics used by the author to create tension or to lead the reader to certain conclusions.
Book Report Form: Theme
Books that feature symbolism are often the subject of school book reports; the characters and events in these books often represent more abstract concepts and ideas in order to highlight an ideology or issue. For books like this, provide an introductory paragraph that summarizes the cast and setting and gives a summary of the plotline. In the next paragraph, explain how to interpret the book's main theme. Use the following paragraphs to explain how main characters and important events support this theme. Remember that when interpreting symbolism, there is not always one right answer. Sometimes the complexities of many possible interpretations make the most fascinating books.
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