Book reports are just one of those assignments that do not go away – you might complete your first one in fourth grade, and your last one in college! This means that book reports are important to master, so use the tips below as you begin to craft an excellent one.
1. Read the book carefully
Your whole assignment will center around one book! So make sure you know its contents inside and out. You’ll want to make detailed notes as you go along, either typing or handwriting them, so that you can reference the material later as you write. If you have a physical book, you can even use sticky notes to mark important quotes or passages in your book. When you’re reading carefully, don’t be afraid to take a little longer to reread passages and make more notes than you think necessary — rushing through this part of the assignment will cost you more time down the road.
2. Check for outside information
Even the best readers miss important details when doing a close read. For this reason, it can be helpful to look up your book online and read a few reviews. There are web pages that can give you a pretty good idea of the important themes and quotations as a baseline, but make sure this is not the only resource type you’re using. Scholarly sources will be important in your book review, too. Your school’s library will have tips on how to find online and print secondary sources — starting with your library’s website and resources like Google Scholar or JSTOR is also a good idea.
3. Make an outline
Most book reports have five parts: an introduction, a summary, an analysis, a conclusion, and a bibliography. You can use your notes from your close reading to outline your summary and argument. Use this time to create your thesis statement and analysis of the book — whether that be related to its themes, content, or characters. From here, the conclusion and introduction will flow easily! One tip you can use is to write the introduction last, after you have figured out where you want to take your paper.
4. Smoothly incorporate academic texts
Using peer-reviewed secondary texts can be very important in supporting your book report’s argument, and choosing the sources carefully can take some time. Make sure that you allot yourself enough time to find and skim sources that could work in your paper before you start writing, and narrow your search down to a few articles that support your argument the best. Don’t be too reliant on outside information, though, and make sure that you state your main point first, elaborate on that point, and then use the secondary source material to back up what you have said. Try to strike a balance between your own, fresh ideas and the tried-and-true ideas of the peer-reviewed sources.
5. Make sure you have answered the prompt
A glowing book report is no good if it does not match your instructor’s prompt. After you have written your outline and started to write, double-check that you are going in the right direction. If you are unsure, it never hurts to schedule an appointment with your instructor to ask any questions and to let them see your progress. While most instructors are flexible, you won’t risk your grade as much if you stick to the prompt more strictly.
By now, you’ve done a ton of work to make your book report a success. Make one final push, and read through everything again. It is a good strategy to skim the first time for formatting mistakes: Make sure you have correctly spaced the paragraphs and titled the sections of the report if necessary. Revise a second time for content mistakes related to grammar or ambiguity in your ideas. Finally, review the bibliography and make sure that all of your sources match the assigned style guide – whether that’s Harvard referencing, MLA style, or APA – and that every detail is in its correct place.
Even though book reports can be a daunting task, they are not impossible if you put in the right amount of work. With these tips, you will be well on your way to writing a top-notch book report. Surely you will have learned a lot about your topic, and you might even have a new favorite book when you’re done!
Once your academic texts and sources are smoothly integrated, you’ll want to cite those sources using in-text citations or even an annotated bibliography. Cite This For Me is your go-to spot for citations, with dozens of source types and thousands of citation styles to choose from.