Just like an exciting introduction that draws the reader in, the conclusion of a book report needs to wrap up the writer's thoughts and leave the reader wanting to learn more. This requires personal examination and commentary, which is not always easy for middle and high school students. That's why it's important to teach students how to end their reports by reflecting on the characters, themes, setting and plot. They should discuss what they learned or gained from the book and how the themes relate to present-day situations. Students should explain why they would or wouldn't recommend the book to their peers.
Revelations and Deeper Understandings
Encourage your students to consider turning points and unexpected outcomes in their book report conclusions. Show how the plot and characters inspired a deeper understanding of life events. For example, if your student is writing a conclusion for her report on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, she might comment on how difficult life was for slaves and indentured servants, how destructive prejudices were and still are today or how orphaned children often feel abandoned and must learn to fend for themselves.
The Significance of Important Themes
Students should focus on how the themes, morals and life lessons shared in the book are still relevant today. They should be able to apply messages from the book to their own lives. For example, if your student is writing a conclusion for his report on _J__ames and the Giant Peac_h by Roald Dahl, he might talk about how the book inspired him to be a loyal, trustworthy friend. Or, he might discuss the importance of teamwork and the value of fighting for a cause.
Help your students learn how to critically assess their books, including the author's purpose and intention. They can use examples from the book such as quotes or scenes to support their viewpoint. For example, if your student read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, her conclusion might discuss how Dahl incorporated technology into the book -- the shrink machine and the ability to send chocolate bars through the TV -- to force readers to consider the pros and cons of technology. Or she might discuss Dahl's colorful, humorous characters, descriptive details and overall imagination-driven writing style.
Instruct your students to include a personal recommendation in the conclusion. A personal recommendation is one of the most important elements in a book report conclusion. This is a great time for students to discuss how the story made them feel. They can also talk about the mood and tone of the story. Encourage your students to discuss the mood and tone of the book and how the story makes them feel. For example, the student might offer advice such as "Students who like adventurous plot lines and stories about beating the odds would enjoy The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner."' Or "I wouldn't recommend The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving to anyone who doesn't like dark, mysterious settings and scary characters."'
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