Writing Book Reports

Last week we dealt with Creative Writing.

And what are we going to deal with today?

Writing Book Reports

Let's start.

We should try to encourage reading. Reading is always important, but even more important today, in these problematic corona days. It is important to plan carefully the reading and writing assignments. Simply telling the class to read a book and then expecting a book report after  a month or so is not a very good idea. We should divide the reading into portions (20-50 pages – depending on students' age, grade, level) and assign different assignments along the way. We should turn the reading and writing on the book into a process. This could be an excellent project for regular as well as online lessons.

How can we do that?


We can organize a class library. Ask students to donate English books they may have at home or ask students to buy a book they would like to read. The teacher might also ask his colleagues in the teacher's room, friends and neighbors, who most probably have English books they would like to get rid of. If that seems too problematic, students may be asked to choose a book from the school library or if that is impossible (corona restrictions), buy or borrow a book. All this has to be done only once. This way, the class will own 20-30 books and students will choose a new book every month or two. The book should be geared to the interests of the students and age level. It should also be chosen according to the student's language level, neither too difficult –  to avoid frustration –  nor too easy and childish.

It might be wise, as I have already mentioned, to monitor the reading. I would suggest reading 3-6 books a year. Students should engage in Pre-Reading, While-Reading and Post-Reading Activities.


Step 1

Pre-Reading Activities


1. Read the title of the book you have chosen.
What does the title suggest? Try to predict:
a. the literary genre (detective story, romantic novel, mystery, thriller, etc.)
b. the plot. Use your imagination. Make up a short story to suit the title.
c. the main character. Describe him. Give him a name.

2. Look at the cover.
Does it suit the title?
Does it give you any additional information?


Step 2

Divide the book into 3 / 4 parts. Ask students to reaad the first part / second part and so on. Set a date for submission of written assignment for each part.

While-Reading Activities


Sum up the plot of the chapters you have read.
1. Did the book – so far –  live up to your predictions based om the title?
2. What do you think will happen next?
3. How do you think the story will end?

Do the same each time you finish the next 20/30/50 pages.

And when the students have finished reading the book, it's time for the next step.


Step 3

Post-Reading Activities

1. Write a short literary critique by completing the following sentences.
The book was…
The characters were …
The style was …
It was easy / difficult…
The main theme …
I liked/ disliked the book mainly  because…
I think …

2. Write a letter to the author.
Choose one of the following possibilities:

  • Praise the book. Explain what you liked most about it.
  • Criticize the book. Explain what you disliked about it.
  • Complain about the ending. Suggest an alternative one.
  • Complain about the characters. Suggest possible changes.

3. Write a letter to one of the major characters.
Explain what you would have done if you had been in his shoes.

4. Continue the story.
You feel it has not really ended…
What, do you think, actually happened or might have happened after the book ended?

5. Write about your favorite character.
Did you identify with him / her?
What did you like most about him / her?

6. Invent a new title. 
Make up a different beginning to the story, related to the new title.
How would it affect the development of the plot and the ending?

7. What events in the story would probably not happen in real life? Why? Explain.

8. Would you recommend this book? Explain your answer.

9. What might have been the author's motives for writing this book?

10. Would you have preferred to see a movie based on the book? Why / why not?


         And that's all for today. More suggestions concerning reports in my next post.

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