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How to Write a Book Report

Books are a significant part of our society's life. When you're studying in college, they are especially important. The first thing that comes to your mind is your textbooks, but sometimes, you may choose even a fiction book as the center of your attention. Or, you have to do that because you are assigned to. In school, it is a widespread thing to deal with such a task that requires you to dive deep into some piece of creative writing. Here, we're going to talk about a book report.

A lot of students face the question of how to write a book report. It can seem easy - you just pen down the plot and all the thoughts you have on it or the meaning of the book, and then submit it without a second thought. But, it's more complicated than a retelling. We would live in a better world if all you had to do was just blurting out everything you know on the publication without proper structure or sense. Unfortunately for some students, there are certain rules, and in this article, we will go through them with you.

Before plunging into report writing, make sure you actually understand what you're dealing with. This assignment is an objective discussion of the book's contents, characters, and events, as well as analysis of your impressions. Be careful - you should not confuse it with a book review. Where the review focuses on the evaluation from a perspective of literary criticism, the report examines the book's plot and contents. Now, when the definition is settled, it's time to study the structure and appropriate format for writing a good book report.

The Planning Stage

Competence is the key to effective book reports. Thus, the foremost step you have to take is an actual reading. Depending on your academic level, it can be "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Red Badge of Courage," or any other masterpiece. The task is to devote considerable time to immerse in it. Find a good and quiet place to thoroughly read the book, note down some thoughts, theses, and quotes you can use later - for example, to support your opinions.

Try to take breaks and don't overwork - it won't be of any use if you just mindlessly skim the text without perceiving it. Also, don't leave your book report writing process to last minute. Some novels can be quite large, and just reading some Internet synopsis or CliffsNotes version is not enough. Once again - making notes while reading is crucial (especially if the book is voluminous). Thus, you won't forget the important information or specific details useful for the main character(s) analysis. That will help you fill the report with interesting facts or back your statements.

Outlining Your Paper

One of the most important things about writing any top-notch paper is making a plan. It will help you organize your thoughts and create a book report outline. That will be your writing guide. With its help, you provide the assignment with coherence and smooth transitions between paragraphs. Below, we have prepared several tips on how to outline the report easily.

  • Separate all your notes into categories. Mark them as "introduction," "first paragraph," "conclusion," etc.
  • Single out the main point from each category and put it into the outline. You will use it as a topic sentence for every paragraph.
  • Make sure you don't neglect to refer to the original text - you may write the quotes down as well. That will make your narration well-grounded
  • Don't forget to get all your sources in one place, if you have any. It's good when all the work you do is performed solely by you, but there's no shame in outsourcing.
  • Maintain the coherence. When you have come up with a structure, check if the order of statements is logical.

After that, you can grab your notebook or a laptop and start writing.

General Structure of a Book Report

The way you build your writing is important for several reasons. First of all, any assignment has to look completed and full. It also has to resemble a building, with all the parts in place and performing their functions well. And what is a building without its foundation? Every student knows that the introduction, body, and conclusion are indispensable elements of any assignment. But how does it work with book reports?

Introductory Paragraph

Every student that wants to master the academic writing art needs to know how to write an introduction. But, if you approach it step by step, you'll see there's nothing difficult. Here are the aspects required in the beginning.

  1. Point out the basics such as the author, the book title, and the year it came out. Try to include some background information - who's published it, whether it was made into a movie, whether it set the trend for writing in a certain genre, etc.
  2. Indicate the author's main idea - the meaning they assigned to their book as an overall piece of writing. Try avoiding stating your own opinion - leave it for book reviews.
  3. Compose your own statement. In the main body, you will have to support it with textual evidence.

Here is one more tip: Try starting the report with a sentence similar to the significant quote from the text. Thus, you will engage the readers easily.

Central (or Body) Paragraphs

The main body of your writing is the most vital part. Here, you have to provide the plot summary and cover different parts of the analyzed novel/story/etc. and state how particular details prove your main idea.

  • Main events
    Point out the main plot event(s) that showcases your thesis and describe where it takes place. Pay attention to the main characters involved - indicate what issues or phenomenons they might represent, cover the physical and empirical significance of the major scenes.
  • Conflicts and resolutions
    Write about the conflicts between characters, or character and nature/society, or conflicts of different classes that you can highlight in the plot. Pinpoint the main problems, how they were resolved or left unattended, and how they correlate with your ideas.
  • Symbolism
    Here, you need to define the main message(s) of the book. What symbols did the author incorporate? What do they teach the readers and you, in particular? At this stage, it's advisable to consult outside sources for a better understanding of the issues. Experienced critics have already analyzed the book and found everything it carried, and you can miss something. So, don't neglect to outsource.

When you have filled the writing with all the important facts, you may proceed to the conclusion.

Concluding Paragraph

Once everything is outlined, it's time to sum everything up. Look through the introduction and main body once again and summarize them but avoid repetitions. Highlight your thesis statement once more to make it sound compelling.

Then comes the last stage of your report writing. Here, you can finally unleash the analytical beast inside and explain your own opinion about the book. Why did you choose to read it? What did you like about it? What didn't you like? What meaning does it carry for you personally? How can it contribute to the younger generation's education? What is the significance of the whole thing, in your own opinion? Give your reader something to think about!

Extra Writing Tips

As a farewell, let us give you some final tips about preparing that specific assignment.

Try not to be too subjective. Your opinion is, without question, valid, but everything has already been analyzed by dozens of people before you. Especially if it's an old book. Don't wander off into the Forest of Analysis because, once again, you're writing a report on the book, not its review. You only need to create a picture for your readers that will allow them to find out the plot without actually reading it.

Don't forget to proofread and edit your work. Don't neglect double- or even triple-checking it for mistakes, or ask someone else to go over it. If you have doubts concerning the formatting or any other requirements, consult your instructor.

There's no need in online writing courses or tutors to overcome the challenge of writing a book report. If you read everything attentively, you know how to write well. So grab that knowledge, the publication you need to write a report on, and charge into academic battle!

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