How to Write a Book Report - Guide with Examples, Templates

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Writing a book report is time-consuming. This post offers guidelines on how to start, outline, write, and format a book report. This post also offers sample works and templates that you can use in completing your project.

Writing a book report is a lengthy process. Apart from spending hours reading, a lot of other tasks go into completing this project. Luckily, having knowledge on how to do a book report is a big step towards producing a well-written paper. In this post we discuss what a book report is and how to write it as well as provide links to templates and samples.

What Is a Book Report?

A book report is an academic project often in essay form that discusses the content of a book. It often provides information on the text, such as the author and the context in which it was written. It also summarizes such elements as title, plot, setting, and characters. This assignment is usually written to reveal the extent of a student’s understanding of the material. These are staple assignments from high school to college.

While a book report usually describes the background and the contents of the work being read, it also often features other sections. Many reports analyze the content, especially in the case of literary analysis or close reading assignments. Many also offer an evaluation of the text’s strengths and weaknesses. The content of this paper all depends on the instructions of the project. Note that this paper is written for both fiction and non-fiction texts.

Writing a book report is a lengthy process. Apart from spending hours reading, a lot of other tasks go into completing this project. Luckily, having knowledge on how to do a book report is a big step towards producing a well-written paper. In this post we discuss what a book report is and how to write it as well as provide links to templates and samples.

What are the main parts of a book report?


How to Write a Book Report

Like any other academic project, a book report is written by following the steps of the writing process. While students tend to modify this process depending on their individual approaches, the basic steps remain the same. Below are the steps you can follow when completing your project. Of course, feel free to adjust your process according to your specific needs.

  1. Read the book. The only way you can craft an excellent report is if you actually read the text. It may be tempting to read summaries available online, but this is not the way to go. Reading such summaries will not allow you to capture the richness and depth of the content the way reading the entire text does. Do not attempt to write your paper as you read because that will just confuse you. The reading part must come first before the writing part, and the only writing you should do while you are reading is for quick notes.

  2. Make notes. Jotting down notes will allow you to track important concepts or key events in the story. Moreover, notes allow you to quickly record ideas that come to you as you read. But do not overdo this. Remember that your focus should be on reading and comprehending the text rather than generating ideas. If you cannot seem to find anything worth noting, then just continue reading until you do.

  3. Organize your notes. Once you finish reading, organize your notes according to the main sections of the paper. This is also the time to go back to the text if you missed a few details necessary for your paper. Make connections where you can and develop your notes into full ideas.

  4. Formulate your thesis statement. Even if you are simply summarizing the book, it is always better to have a thesis statement. Your thesis is the single overarching idea you want to communicate. It will serve as the backbone of your paper in that all other parts of the paper should support the thesis.

  5. Create an outline. Write the book report outline of your paper. This means formulating the main points or arguments that you will use to demonstrate your thesis, collecting the evidence that you will use to support your points, and organizing their sequence for coherence. Think of the outline as the skeleton or framework of your paper.

  6. Write the draft. Once you have your outline, write the first draft of your paper. This involves expanding the individual points you wrote for the outline, adding the evidence such as quotes or paraphrases with citations, and connecting them to the thesis. Remember, your body paragraphs should begin with topic sentences since this is the most effective way of communicating your ideas.

  7. Edit the draft. Rarely are first drafts perfect. Thus, you need to revise your paper to improve its quality. Editing should involve rewording unclear statements, enhancing the flow of the discussion, putting transitions where necessary, and evaluating the overall quality of the content. You should conduct at least two editing sessions before settling for a final copy.

  8. Proofread. Make sure you perform a final proofread of your paper to check for any errors such as incorrect grammar or typing mistakes. Many students make the mistake of not proofreading their papers. Bear in mind that quality can easily suffer if there are too many errors. There are also some errors that can, unfortunately, change the meaning of the content.

Although a book report usually features summaries, remember that an excellent essay goes beyond just repeating the contents of the text. An excellent paper shows that you engaged in close reading and critical thinking. The steps outlined here should help you gather not just an understanding of how to start a book report but also how to finish it.

An easy guide on how to write a book report


Types of Book Reports

A book report is a broad category of academic writing projects. This means there are different types of reports depending on the requirements of the assignment. Four of the most common are summary, literary analysis, book review, and reaction. Read the instructions carefully to determine the type you are writing.

  1. Summary. This is the simplest type of book report. Its main goal is to condense the content of the book into its most essential parts. For example, writing a summary of a novel means narrating only the most important plotlines. This means removing unnecessary details, subplots, and characters. Note that there are crucial differences between critical analysis and summary, as will be discussed below.

  2. Literary analysis. A literary analysis is a type of book report specific to literary works. This is often written for fiction such as novels. The focus of this paper is not summarization but rather an analysis of literary elements such as characters, themes, symbols, settings, and plotlines. Learning how to write a literary analysis involves knowing a lot about literature.

  3. Book review. A book review, also known as a critique, focuses on evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the text. For example, you might evaluate if it is accessible to readers, well-researched, logical, or entertaining, among other parameters. Note that the biggest difference between a book report and a book review is this: the former is a general type of assignment, while the latter is a type of book report.

  4. Reaction book report. This type of report features your reactions to the text. This kind of assignment is more flexible than the others since it provides plenty of room for exploration. For example, you may focus on expressing how you felt reading the work, share your thoughts about certain ideas or literary elements, or even relate other texts you have read or experiences you have had. This type is similar to a reaction paper, with the focus being the text you read.

These are the four most common types of book reports. Reading the book report guidelines carefully is the key to knowing the type of paper you are writing. Note that these types are not mutually exclusive, and many assignments are combinations of two or more types. For example, a paper on a classic novel may require both a summary of the plot and an analysis of the characters.

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Parts of a Book Report

The contents of a book report depend on the type being written and the instructions. For example, a literary analysis will likely focus on literary elements. By contrast, a review will discuss a number of aspects related to scholarly writing. That said, there are, of course, parts that appear in most papers. These parts are discussed below.

  1. Standard essay content. Standard content refers to the parts that appear in every essay regardless of the type. This refers to parts such as the introduction with its clear thesis statement, body paragraphs, conclusion, references, and title page if indicated. A book report should have these parts unless otherwise explicitly stated by the instructions.

  2. Bibliographical information. This refers to all the initial information that a teacher will look for when evaluating the paper: the title, the author, and the publishing year among others. There are books with different editions, and that is an important element to mention as well. Be as specific as possible since none of these key points is negotiable; all of them must be included in the report.

  3. Quick summary. Summaries are usually included in reports that feature analysis or evaluation of contents. These summaries are not included if the type of the report being written is a summary itself.

  4. Literary elements. This part appears only in reports about literary works since this kind of paper focuses on analyzing literary elements. Elements commonly discussed include themes, symbols, characters, plot details, and settings. For example, classic literature is often analyzed for themes that reflect the human condition.

  5. Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses. This part appears in book reviews since this focuses on the merits and demerits of the text. Some of the major areas that this should cover include the scholarliness of the research process, the clarity of the content, the level of accessibility to the reader, and the entertainment value. This part is basically about the quality of the text and its worth to the reader.

These are the basic elements that every book report should cover. Writing this paper requires you to exercise close reading skills as well as analytical skills. Since these works are often a couple of hundred pages long or more, it helps to take down notes as you read. Taking notes will help you recall important details, organize information, and analyze content.

Book Report Format

This assignment is usually written in the form of an essay, and thus the format follows an essay’s basic structure. There should be three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Other elements may be included if the instructions call for them. Below are short descriptions of how the paper should be formatted and the content of each major part.

  1. Introduction. The introduction is the first section of the paper. It should accomplish three things. First, it should introduce the topic. Second, it should provide background information on the book. Third, it should present the thesis statement or the purpose of the paper. This part may also include the roadmap of the paper.

  2. Body. The body of the paper is where all the discussion occurs. Depending on the type of report and the focus of the paper, this may include the following: a summary of the book; the historical or social context in which it was written; critical analysis of the content; evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses; and a response to the text including thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

  3. Conclusion. The conclusion wraps up the paper. It should reiterate the thesis of the paper, recap the main points of the discussion, and leave final thoughts to the reader. This is also often used for recommendations. For example, many professors require students to state in the conclusion whether the book is recommendable or not.

  4. References. A references page should be included if other sources were used in writing the paper. For example, reports for non-fiction books often require relating the text to external sources. If this is the case, make sure you provide full citations for these sources. Use the correct citation style.

Most book reports are written as essays. Hence, it makes sense to format it as an essay. The three basic components (introduction, body, and conclusion) should be included along with other components that may be required by the directions. Bear in mind that while the basic structure should be followed, the body of the paper should be modified according to the specific requirements of the assignment.

Book Report Template and Examples

Learning how to complete a book report is made easier by looking at examples. After all, sample works and templates show the qualities of excellent output. Reading completed papers allows you to see how good writing practices are translated into written output. Below is a list of sample works along with brief explanations of their topic, focus, and scope. Feel free to read through them.

  1. Sample 1: Summary and Character Analysis. This is a short essay on Dante Alighieri’s medieval work Paradiso. It provides a short summary of the book as well as a quick analysis of the main character.

  2. Sample 2: Summary and Thematic Analysis. This is an excellent example that discusses J.K. Rowling’s celebrated novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This sample offers both a summary of the novel, including a list of major characters and an analysis of important themes.

  3. Sample 3: Summary and Character Analysis. This is another excellent example of that discusses the classic novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This paper provides both a summary of the novel and an analysis of the main characters.

  4. Sample 4: Summary and Thematic Analysis. This sample discusses the racial aspect of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. This is a fine example of a book report that utilizes the historical approach or perspective to literary analysis.

  5. Sample 5: Summary and Thematic/Character Analysis. This sample explores the theme of morality in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. In this sample, the writer analyzes morality by looking at the different perspectives the major characters represent.

As these samples show, the scope of book reports can go beyond merely providing a simple summary. More than just recounting the details of the content, this type of assignment usually involves analysis or critique of the works. Note that these examples are mostly literary novels, but this assignment can be about any type of book, fiction or non-fiction alike.

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