7 Tips To Help You Write An A-Worthy Book Report

No student that I ever knew enjoyed reading required books and then writing a lengthy report about the thematic elements involved, the cultural relevance of the work, or the specific literary style of the writer, especially in the summertime. Aside from the seemingly boring subject matter, most students find it so difficult to write a book report because they choose to just skim through the chapters or read reviews about the work online instead of actually reading it word for word. Writing a book report, or review, however, can become so much simpler if you put just a little extra effort into reading the book.

Another trick to composing a well thought, and well written book report is to not wait until the day before it’s due to start writing it, or reading the book. You need to give yourself some time to first read the book, and then to write the report. So the next time you are assigned a book to read, do yourself a favor and start reading that evening. Then follow these seven steps to help you conduct your report.

1. Buy your own copy.

Often times, at least in elementary and high school education, the teacher will assign you a copy of the book you are going to read. It would really do you well, however, to go out and get your own paperback copy to write and make notes in as you go along reading. You can highlight important quotes, themes, and events in the story to come back to and analyze how they pertain to the whole story.

2. Develop a thesis statement.

Before you start reading you need to have a solid understanding of why you are reading. Sometimes your teacher, or instructor, will assign you a book report with a specific focus in mind: what, or whom, does the main character represent? What is the cultural significance of the work to the time it was written? What archetypes do the supporting characters represent?

If this is the case then this step becomes a little easier, but if not, you also have a little freedom to control the content of your own work by deciding on your own thesis. Just be sure to bare this in mind as you continue reading.

3. READ the book.

The next thing you do is start reading the book. By reading I mean absorbing the material, using a pencil to make a note of things as you go along, and marking specific pages to go back to when it’s time to write the report. A good tip to help you remember major details is to write a small outline as you go along, but if you take good notes this is not really necessary.

Remember to make note of important quotes, physical descriptions of the characters and locations, the time and place in which the novel takes place, and literary elements like foreshadowing, character types, diction, figurative language, imagery, plot, and perspective. The themes of the novel should also be noted, like love, hate, revenge, and so on and so forth.

4. Develop a rough outline of your report.

Once you have finished reading the book and have a solid understanding of the story and elements, it is time to start writing the report. You should always begin with a rough outline before you write the main body of the report. Start with the introductory paragraph, making sure to introduce the work and the author, as well as your thesis statement, which will be the recurring focus of your report.

After your introduction paragraph is written, you will need to develop three main points from the book that support your thesis statement. For example, if your assigned reading was Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, and your thesis statement was that the character of Atticus Finch represents social progress in racial discrimination in the United States, one of your supporting points could be that he willingly took up the case to defend Tom Robinson, or that he actually called witnesses to testify to Tom’s innocence instead of doing what was expected of him and leaving Tom without any real defense, simply because he was a black man.

5. Begin writing the body of your report.

Now that you have your three main points, it is time to go back through the book and quote specific evidence that supports your points. This is where having taken notes and highlighted important events really comes in handy. Begin each supporting paragraph with the topic sentence, which states the supporting point of your thesis. After that you just have to support the topic sentence with important quotes and events that you highlighted as you were reading. Repeat this process for each of the supporting paragraphs, and you will be to the conclusion before you know it!

6. Write a conclusion and proofread your report.

Your concluding paragraph should restate your thesis statement, provide a brief review of your supporting points, and reinforce the validity of your thesis. Once you have written the first full draft of your report, it is time to go back and reread it. Look for grammatical errors, including spelling and punctuation, and sentences that do not flow correctly, or do not seem to make any sense. You should also check to be sure your thesis and main points are clearly defined, so that your reader can easily grasp the focus of your report.

7. Reference your sources and format your report.

A lot of times, the only real source you need for your report is the book itself. However, a more detailed report, particularly in higher education levels, may require that you use several secondary sources like a biography on the author or a history book focusing on the time and place in which the novel was written.

If this is the case, be sure to correctly reference all of your sources in your report and compose a bibliography. Your instructor may also require that you include a title page and page headers or numbers, so be sure to include these elements. The best site (in my opinion) for assistance with references and formats is Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), which can show you how to use APA or MLA references, compose bibliographies, and correctly format your report.