Book Report Writing Guide - Outline, Format, & Topics
A book report is a specific kind of report that the student writes after reading a book. It is different from a book review and is less detailed than it. It is a short explanation or summary of the content of a book and informs the readers about the main theme and central storyline of the chosen book.
Unlike a book review that is longer and more detailed, the purpose of writing a book report is to summarize what happened in the story. It should contain an overview of why you chose this specific novel, along with your thoughts about how it might have been improved or changed if given different circumstances.
However, no matter how simple it may seem, students often find it difficult when it comes to writing a report. Keep on reading the blog to know how to come up with a strong and effective report.
What is a Book Report?
A book report is an informative piece of writing that summarizes the book and presents some brief analysis of its main elements like plot, setting, characters, tone, and background of the story.
This could be either fiction books or nonfiction, so there are many ways of presenting this information depending on your personal preferences.
Some course instructors may ask students to add relevant themes of the book and plot elements into their reports. But on a very basic level, a book report is an extremely simple form of a book review.
How does book report writing benefit you? Writing reports help students to improve their analytical and communication skills. Besides, they also practice expressing their thoughts and ideas about the different aspects of the book they read.
Book Report vs. Book Review - How do they Differ from Each Other?
‘How is a book report different from a book review?’
Book reports and book reviews look similar. However, a book review requires in-depth analysis as compared to a report.
Both of them share some common traits, but we will discuss them later. We will discuss the differences before moving to the similarities. Since many students are confused between these two, it is important to discuss the differences first.
Here are some key factors that make them different from each other.
|Book Report vs. Book Review - Main Differences|
|Word Count & Length|
|A book report should be between 200-250 words. An in-depth book review could be up to 1000+ words and will depend on the complexity of the literature being reviewed.|
|A book report is an assignment for K-12 students. A review, on the other hand, would be more appropriate for college-level work.|
|Structure & Format|
|You will discuss the same things in both of them. These things include the author, plot and setting, the book, its place of publication, main characters, themes, plot, and genre.|
|Aim & Message|
|The report discusses the book’s key factors like the book’s plot, characters, major themes, motifs, and summary. A book review is different as it includes the writer’s personal opinion also.|
A book report is similar to a summary and can be used interchangeably. In contrast, a review requires you to analyze the contents of the material in order for your readership to know about it better.
You will need to examine its contents, understand what's going on with the plotline or main message of this piece--whether or not if the author has managed to communicate his thoughts well enough.
You will analyze both strong and weak points before giving an opinionated conclusion.
What are the SImilarities between Book Report and Book Review?
Here are the things that are added in both a book report and a book review.
- Bibliographic details
- Background of the author
- The recommended audience for the book
- The main subject of the book or work
- Summary of the work and the only difference is that in the review, a critical analysis is also added
Due to the similarities, many students think that both of these are the same. It is wrong and could cost you your grade.
How to Write a Book Report?
You should take care of some important things when writing a book report. If the essay is not what your instructor wanted, then it will get you no good grades. It will be no more than a waste of time.
Planning ahead from the beginning can help ensure success. Therefore, make sure that you plan your report before you start writing it.
Here are the pre-writing steps that are essential for a successful report.
How to Start a Book Report?
Starting a writing or other project is more important than completing it. After all, how will you be able to complete and submit a good book report without starting one? The steps involved at the beginning of your paper are different from those needed for formatting the essay later on.
The preliminary steps help keep you focused so that even if your motivation starts waning near the end, you will know what's left undone.
Below are the steps involved in starting your book report:
1. Pick the Book Carefully
Picking the right book is a crucial part of your writing process. Some teachers assign you books, and there's nothing you can do about it. However, if given a choice to pick out any type of novel for yourself, choose the one that suits your interests the best.
Everyone has different preferences regarding what types of novels they like reading, so make sure you choose the one that interests you.
2. Read the Book Properly
You cannot write a good and A-grade worthy report without reading it. Many students think that reading the summary, notes, and details online is enough, but this is not the right way of doing it.
Reading is important because otherwise, you will not be able to get to the depth of the story, which is necessary for writing the report.
3. Note Down Important Points
When reading the book, note down all the important points and incidences in your notebook. No other method is as useful as the good old paper and pen method. Make notes and keep them with you for quick reference.
4. Gather the Important and Relevant Quotes
Relevant and strong quotations from the book will add weightage to your book report and help you give your point of view in a better manner. Gather the quotes that are relevant to your report’s theme and idea.
These will also help you when you write your personal evaluation, as you could add them to prove your point and analysis.
5. Create the Outline for your Book Report
An outline is important for a good and strong book report. When making the outline, make sure that you add all the important points to it. An outline helps the writer stay organized and focused on the points and content that he is working on.
6. Write your Book Report
After you have completed all the steps above, start writing your book report. Stay focused on the points and quotes that you have gathered and follow the outline closely. Usually, it includes both basic information of the book and its complete analysis.
How to write a report for college and high school levels? Follow the same steps because the outline and format stay the same; only the book and the added details will be different.
Book Report Format
A book report format is different from a book review, and when writing one, as a writer, you should make sure that you follow the right format.
Studying the format and working according to it is important if you do not want to waste your time and effort.
Follow the steps below to learn the basic book report format and how to draw an outline according to it.
A general book report format looks like this.
- Add the title of the book, the author of the book, and the number of pages.
- Identify and mention the type of book. For example, modern realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, folktale, fantasy, etc.
- Identify and explain the significance of the main characters.
- 2-3 sentences about each.
- Both of their physical and personality traits.
- Discuss the book's setting and mood.
- Brief summary of the plot.
- Goals of the character.
- Conflict or conflicts in the story?
- Type of conflicts and their results.
- Theme and message of the book.
- What did you like and disliked about the book? Explain everything here.
Following this format will make sure that you write a great report every time and earn an ‘A’ grade easily.
How to Write a Book Report Outline?
A book report outline includes everything from the introduction to details of different main aspects and opinions of the book. An outline is an important part of the writing process. It shapes your work and helps you stay focused.
Here are the things you must consider and take care of when making the outline for your book report.
- Was the book a bestseller?
- Did someone well-known write the book?
- Are there unusual facts or circumstances that might interest people in your writing?
- The Main Body
- Summary - Begin by explaining the overview of the book. This includes the setting, the time period, main characters, and plot of the story. Is it a thriller or a horror story? Tell your reader about it.
- Character Details - Discuss the major and minor characters here and explain the major conflicts they are dealing with.
- Plot Analysis - Instead of telling everything, focus on the main points that helped to shape the storyline. Discuss the main highlights, strengths, and weaknesses of the plot and explain the literary devices also.
- Conclusion & Personal Evaluation
- Revision and Editing
‘How to write a book report introduction?’
The introductory paragraph should be about what you found interesting about the book. It could be facts that are not common knowledge, which is why you chose to read it.
Here are some examples that you can use to make your book report’s introduction interesting.
Since book reports could be personal also, it is okay to state any personal reasons you have for choosing the book.
In the body of your report, tell what the book is about. This shows that you have read and understood it perfectly. Here are the things that you should add in the body paragraphs.
Your final paragraph is the perfect opportunity to express your thoughts about the book. It's time for you, as an avid reader and critic of literature, to give your honest opinion of this work.
In what ways does it succeed? What are its weaknesses? Does it provoke any thoughts or emotions in you - did reading this make you laugh or cry while also teaching something new that expands your understanding?
Your readers want to know if they should read this book or not, give them the right reasons.
Always revise your report before handing it in. You have a chance to fix the things such as getting the quotes right or making sure that the statements are clear. After formatting as per your instructor's guidelines, make any necessary changes before handing in your work.
Creating a book report outline before writing the report is necessary and important. It helps you in staying organized and completing your report on time.
How to Write a Book Report for High School?
Follow these steps to write a book report for high school:
- Read the book thoroughly and with purpose.
- Make an outline before writing the report as a pre-writing step.
- Follow the guidelines and the given format to create the title page for your report.
- Add basic details in the introduction of your book report.
- Analyze the major and minor characters of the story and the role they play in the progress of the story.
- Analyze the major and significant plot, events, and themes. Describe the story and arguments and focus on important details.
- Conclude by adding a summary of the main elements, characters, symbols, and themes.
How to Write a Book Report for College Level?
Here is a college book report template that will help you format and write your report.
- Know the assignment and book details and make sure that you follow them properly.
- Read the book properly and note down important details about the plot, characters, and theme.
- Write an informative introduction and mention bibliographic details here.
Example: “The book “The Big Sleep” written by Raymond Chandler and published in 1988 (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) is a detective book. It talks about the deteriorating morals of the society, as a side effect of capitalism or consumer culture.”
- Add the details of the setting, events, atmosphere, narrative, and overall plot in the summary section.
Example: The narrative is set in the 1930s, when LA was a dark and treacherous city full of rain-soaked crime. Detective Philip Marlowe becomes connected to a wealthy family who has been keeping some pretty big secrets from him. He meets the Sternwood sisters and uncovers the dark secrets of the family.
- Cover the complete story in the plot section but add important details, plot twists, and conflicts here.
Example: Marlowe's adventures with the Sternwood family start when he is invited to solve Vivian and Carmen’s case. Marlowe realizes that it was actually Carmen who killed her missing relative, while Vivian covered up her crime. Her attempt on his life fails miserably due to an expertly anticipated move by Marlowe.
- The concluding part is the final part of the report. Here, you will summarize the story and mention the weak and strong points. Unlike a review, a book report is simple and includes a summary only.
How to Write a Nonfiction Book Report?
Writing a book report on a work of fiction is easier than writing one on a nonfiction book. But what if you have to write a report on a nonfiction book? You can do some simple things that will help you write the report and maybe even make it fun.
Here are the important steps to write an engaging nonfiction book report.
- Carefully read the book you have chosen or been assigned. It is a good idea to mark pieces of information that you can use in your report. This will help you write a better report.
- The introduction should have the author's name, year of publication, and reason for writing the report. The first sentence should be interesting and the main theme of the novel should be summarized in a few sentences.
- Ideally, the body section includes 3 paragraphs. Instead of adding all the details, it is better to stick to important details and include those in the report.
- Conclude the book with your personal opinion, if you have managed to come up with any. Would you recommend it? Mention the reasons here.
Writing a nonfiction book report could be challenging. You will have to stick to factual details and will have less freedom to express your views. Following these steps will help you do it easily.
How to Write a Book Report without Reading the Book?
No time to read the book? Here are the steps to write a book report without reading the entire book.
- 1. Consult a Summary Website - A number of websites do the reading for you. You can check and consult some of those websites and read the summaries and text analyses given by them.
- 2. Stick to Significant Details Only - Instead of trying to add everything in your report, stick to important details only. Choose 2 to 3 important details and talk about them.
- 3. Work with a Writing Service - Working with a writing service is a smart and effective way of submitting your report on time. Choose a professional writing service and work with it.
- 4. Try to Discuss a Different Angle - Try to find out what your peers are working on and discuss a different angle. How will you stand out if you have discussed the same things as your classmates? Be unique and add an extraordinary angle to your report.
Though writing a book report without reading the book is hard, you can do it by following the above steps.
Book Report Templates for Different Grades
Students studying at different levels have different skills and ability levels. Here is how they can write book reports for their respective academic levels.
How to Write a Book Report for an Elementary School?
The following are some book report templates that you can use for your primary or elementary school.
How to Write a Book Report for Middle School
Here are the templates that you can use to write your middle school book report.
Book Report Examples
Before heading towards the writing process of your book report, it is a good idea to have a look at some of the book report examples.
Book Report of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Book Report of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book Report Ideas
Basic ideas include presenting your narrative and analysis in simple written and file form, while more creative ideas include a fun element.
Here are some creative and artistic book report ideas you can choose from.
- Clothes Hanger Book Report
- Paper Bag Book Report
- Cereal Boxes
- Triorama Book Report
- File Folding Book Report
- Watercolor and Rainbow Book Report
- Character Enactment Book Report
- Small Tin Boxes Book Report
- Interview the Characters Type Book Report
- Pumpkin Book Report
Some notable books to choose from for your book report writing assignment are mentioned below:
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- James and the Giant Peach
- The Silent Patient
- Sons and Lovers
- Cry Silent Tears
- The Hunger Games
- The White Tiger
- Moth Smoke
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist
- The Mueller Report
- The Minority Report
Good and well-written book reports introduce the book and explain its main themes and points briefly. There is a fine line between giving just enough details and giving away the entire book, and a good report maintains this distinction.
Working with a professional essay writing service will help you understand this difference and compose a great report easily. If you are still not sure about how to write a book report that will help you earn an A, then you should consider taking help from a professional essay writer.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the parts of a book report?
A book report often contains different sections that describe the setting, main characters, and key themes of the story. A common type is an expository one which details what happened in detail or discusses how people feel about it.
Is a report a summary?
No, a summary is more detailed than a book report. A book report is usually based on a short summary of the book, while a standalone summary is more detailed and could have headings, subheadings, and supporting quotes.
How many paragraphs should be included in a book report?
The book report is a typical assignment in middle and high school, usually with one introduction, three body, and one conclusion paragraph.
The number of paragraphs could vary depending on the academic level, with an expert or professional book report having more than three body paragraphs.
How long is a book report?
It should not exceed two double-spaced pages, be between 600 and 800 words in length. Your book report is a written reflection on the content of a novel or work of nonfiction.
How do you end a book report?
Sum up your thesis statement and remind the readers of the important points, one final time. Do not add any new ideas or themes here and try to leave a lasting impression on the reader.