Countless students confuse book reports with book reviews. A book report involves summarizing a book, while a review gives you the opportunity to give your opinion about the book, which is, whether you found it interesting or boring. This may sound like a difficult task, but in reality, it can actually be quite interesting especially if you are given the freedom to work on a book you love.
Book Report Writing Tips
1. Read Instructions
You should carefully go through the instructions your lecturer provides so that you can understand the requirements. If you need clarification about anything, you can go ahead and ask to be on the safe side. The instructions may guide you on the length of the report, the writing format and if citations should be inclusive.
2. Choose a Book
At times you are given the option to choose the book you want to work on. If that's is the case, you should choose a book that you find interesting. This is because most students don’t like to read, having to work on a book you love will give you the motivation to complete the assignment. Whether you want to work on a fictional or non-fictional book is all up to you. You can go to the library and ask for assistance from the librarian if you are not sure about which book you want to work on.
Unfortunately, not everyone is given a chance to choose the book they want to work on. This should not be a mood killer for you. You should go through the assigned book with an open mind. Give it a chance and read through, you may be surprised to find that the book is actually very interesting.
3. Read the Book
Now that you have the book, the reading phase should begin. Always start reading early to avoid last minute rushes which will compromise the quality of your book report. You may miss out on a really good grade for omitting some important points unknowingly. Also, avoid skimming over a book. To fully understand a book, you should thoroughly read and re-read it; all this does give you all the information you need to come up with a winning report. Ensure that you pick a quiet and peaceful place to read so that you can you can have full concentration avoid any distractions.
As you are reading, take down short notes. Note down important things like, the plot, theme of the book, the setting and characters, just to name a few. Depending on the book you are reading, note down all the important parts. The notes should show the different chapters, paragraphs or pages where they are based so that it will be accessible for you to locate them again if it is necessary.
4. Come Up with an Outline
The outline is very important because it is a map of the book report and it shows you how it will be structured. Your notes should guide you when coming up with your outline. Go through them and decide how you want to structure your report. Move through every chapter and paragraph to confirm that every point you write follows the order of the book. You can move a few points around until the outline is solid. You can even remove or add some points depending on the point you want to make or address.
Go through the outline as many times as you need to. This step may take a bit of time, but it is worth it. It is easier to proofread and edit an outline than the finished report. If you are satisfied with the final draft, you can move on to the next step.
5. Write the Book Report
This should not be very difficult once you have perfected your outline. Your first paragraph should introduce the book by giving some basic information on the book like the author’s name and the title of the book. Anything that is very interesting about the book should be noted. If possible, you could include an interesting quote from the book. At the end of the paragraph give a very short and summary on what the book is all about. In general, this paragraph should be as interesting and exceedingly captivating as possible so that it captures the reader’s attention.
Your body paragraph should introduce the reader to the book’s setting. Use the vivid information to describe the locations in the book. The author might not provide information on where the story takes place, but you can look for clues to help you get an idea of the location.
Include a summary of the plot. You should mention any major events in the book and how they affect the character’s lives. Remember though; this is a summary of the events, do not give too many details that it seems like you're re-writing the book.
You should mention the main characters in the report and explain who they are and what roles they play in the book. Include the primary characters as well and explain how they contribute to or affect the story.
Every book has a theme that it tries to bring out. You should be able to identify the themes in the book and show how they evolve or change throughout the book or how they affect the characters. If the book is nonfiction, you should be able to identify the thesis and show how it develops through the entire book. You should note the tone and writing style of the book, check whether the author is biased or whether he/she is fair.
In conclusion, you have the freedom to express your views regarding the book. You can state the book's weaknesses and strengths and provide reasons for why you feel that particular way. You can also state whether you agree with the author or not and if you would recommend the book to other people.
Once you are through with the writing phase, go through the entire report and check that it is written correctly. Ensure that it adheres to the instructions provided. Check that there is a flow to the material and that all the grammar and tenses are written correctly. If there are any references, ensure that they are cited correctly.
The editing step need not end there; ask a trusted friend to go through the report and tell you whether they get an idea of the book from what you have written. If there are any mistakes identified, correct them. If you are fully satisfied, you can go ahead and hand in your report.
Just a recap:
1. Read instructions
2. Choose a book (if it applies to you)
3. Read the book
4. Come up with an outline
5. Write the book report
6. Edit the report