How to Do a High School Book Report

Taking a few notes while reading helps make report writing easier.
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Add the number of students in your class, and then multiply that by the classes your teacher instructs during the day. Multiply that number by the years on the job, and the odds you have after doing the math predict your teacher has read at least one report on the book you've selected for your assignment. A book report that stands apart from the multitude requires only a few simple steps. The most important step requires reading the entire book with attention to the details.

1 Select Quotations

High school reports usually ask you to collect several quotations from the book to use in the written or oral report. Copy interesting quotations as you read, and use these quotations for fiction reports to focus on the points where the author divulges the overall theme, develops the main characters or provides major plot developments. Collect text passages describing the main idea and reasons explaining the main thesis for use in reports for nonfiction works.

2 Setting

Reports ask you to describe the main setting, or physical locations, used in fiction works and the time the story takes place. Some authors avoid placing the characters in a specific time period, but instead use descriptions to show the story takes place during modern times. Your book may include many different locations, but focus this section of the report on the places where the characters spend the most time. Describe any location details that help shape character development or move the plot. Include descriptions of places where the majority of the action in the story takes place.

3 Character Descriptions

Fiction book assignments typically ask for a short summary of the main characters using quotes from the book as illustrations. Authors usually provide fewer details about minor characters, but instead develop the main characters in detail. Take notes during your reading about the main characters, but wait to write the character descriptions until you finish reading. Authors sometimes reveal important character information in the last few chapters of a fiction work. Important character elements include the relationship of the character to others in the book and information about the character such as age, physical traits, beliefs and interesting information about the character's personality.

4 Summary

Fiction book reports require a summary of the events. A simple summary tracks the action in the story, including how the author develops the crisis and resolves this in the climax. Reports for nonfiction works ask you to give the author's main thesis and the points used to support this central idea. Some report assignments also ask for quotes from the book to provide examples or illustrations showing the development of the thesis or the plot points.

5 Your Opinion

Reports sometimes allow you to give your opinion about the book by answering the questions, "Would you recommend this book to other readers? Why or why not?" Explain the reasons for your opinion in the report, including details about what you liked or disliked. Focus on any unanswered questions you had after finishing the book. Discuss the parts of the book or characterizations that seemed lifelike or unnatural in this section. Answer the questions for nonfiction works by itemizing the development of the topic. Describe any omissions or parts of the overall thesis that need additional development to convince the reader to believe the claims made by the author.

Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.