Book Report

Expert Tips on Writing Book Reports

There are different types of book reports. However, the three main types are summaries of the book’s plot, analysis of characters, and analysis of themes. A good thing about book report writing is that it gives the writer some practice at expressing their opinions on various elements of a text, e.g., the dialogue or descriptions used by an author.

Irrespective of the type of report you choose, there are some essential aspects that need to be included if you are to tell your readers why and how you found a particular book interesting. The following items should always be included in book reports:

  • The book’s title
  • The author’s name
  • A description of the book type
  • The place and time of the story or plot
  • The characters’ names and a short description of any characters you intend to discuss
  • Various examples and quotes from the text that support your viewpoints or opinions.
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Summary of a Book’s Plot

Writing a summary of a book’s plot involves more than just retelling a story. The writer needs to give their opinion of the plot or story and say why they think the book is realistic, unrealistic, or compelling. The key to writing a good book report lies in the way the writer analyses the plot. So, be sure to support your opinions with sufficient examples and/or quotes from your chosen book. It is a good idea to begin with a sentence like this:

In Monica Hubbard’s book, “I married a Sea Captain,” the storyline is of considerable interest because it gives a good view of what life is like for the wife of a sea captain and because it also provides an insight into life in 19th century Nantucket.

Analysis of Characters

Should you decide or are asked to analyse the characters in a book, you could begin by exploring their personality and physical traits and how their behaviour or actions impact the book’s plot.

  • For example, you could look at how the various characters dress and what perception or impression the reader gets from this.
  • Do any of the characters possess any positive characteristics?
  • Have any of the characters any serious “flaws” that often land them in trouble?
  • Take examples from the dialogue to explore how characters speak. Explore their word choices and how their words and/or language affect the rest of the book’s characters.
  • Lastly, bring all your opinions, observations, and impressions together by showing how the different characters move the plot forward.

The following is an example of the type of sentence you could use to start your report:

In E B White’s novel, “Charlotte's Web,” Templeton may only be a rat but his character’s persistent search for food helps take the storyline forward in a number of ways.

Analysis of a Book’s Theme(s)

In choosing to analyse a theme i.e. any main ideas running through a book, the writer chooses the perfect way to write their report because writing is much easier when you can focus on something that matters to you. As a reader, try to bring some of your feelings and opinions into your report to show how powerful a theme is. However, prior to discussing your own personal thoughts, make sure you know what theme you will address and how this manifests itself in the plot.

  • Once you have chosen a theme, explain precisely what it is.
  • In order to prove how and why your chosen theme is crucial to the storyline, use as many quotations and examples as you need to.
  • Discuss every quotation and/or example you have chosen. Draw your readers’ attention to any direct links between your chosen theme(s) and the examples you use.
  • Once your theme has been established and fully explored in terms of how it impacts the book, add a couple of sentences about how you were personally impacted by the theme and why you think it makes reading the book more pleasant or less pleasant.

Regardless of the type of the book report you are writing, it is important to ensure you write clearly and expressively and use examples from the text to back up your own opinions. Writing a book report may seem different from other assignments,  but this type of writing does give you the chance to compare, contrast, predict, summarise, make connections, and look at a text from a variety of perspectives. These are skills that will stand you in good stead for life.