When given a task of writing a book report most students give a deep sigh in response. This type of writing, however, is one of the best ways to expand your literary horizons. Most book reports follow a similar format, but your teacher will probably outline what he or she expects from you. Follow those instructions first. Bear in mind that a book report is completely factual. It includes information on the author, title, place and year of publication as well as a summary of the content of the book.
What is a book report?
A book report is a kind of essay that sums up, explains or reviews a given book. It can be either factual, asking the student to state and enumerate the facts or analytical, where the student is required to analyze plot, characters, themes, ideas etc.
When given a task of writing a book report most students give a deep sigh in response. The reason for this is quite simple – they are just not sure where to start and feel overwhelmed. In the meantime, writing book reports can be fun, and we are serious about it! The transformation of attitude towards book report writing can only occur as a result of practice, practice and practice. It all starts off with a feeling of burden and an obstacle that seems unavoidable. As time passes and you train to write more and more book reports, you will find that the process gets more interesting. There are not so many people out there who enjoy writing per se. If you are one of them, then you are lucky – you get a kick out of the process. Other students enjoy the research process itself and the facts they discover in the course. You can find something interesting about any book. Try digging up some of such facts, they will make your book report ‘juicier’; will get your reader interested in reading your report from beginning to end; and – who knows – it might get you an extra credit for additional research.
Writing book reports has at least two main objectives. Most importantly: as a student, you are required to read books. Reading books is important for a number of reasons, but mainly because it enriches your background knowledge about various epochs, places, personalities, helps you learn additional information about culture, customs, traditions and improves your language skills and much more. Consequently, your teacher will want to make sure you have read the book and that it has had an educational impact on you, which can be attained via book report writing. The second objective of book report writing is development of your reading, writing, analytical and observation skills. Their development is one of the core tasks of the education program you are in, irrespectively of its level. Book report writing begins as early as grade 3 of elementary school and continues all the way to college. Let’s take a closer look at book report writing per se and consider some of its aspects including preparation, formatting, structure, language, tone and writing. Please see the process diagram on Fig. 1. How to Write a Book Report.
Fig. 1. How to Write A Book Report
How to Prepare for Book Report Writing
Writing a book report is unthinkable about actually reading the book. The sad part about it is that proper preparation requires you to read the book at least once or more (sorry if you don’t like to read!). So, the first part is just reading for enjoyment. You should get a general feeling, understanding of what the author is trying to say in the text and grasp its main message. You should get acquainted with the setting, plot and characters of the book, pick major themes, understand the general setting. If you are an advanced reader and are able to work on the go, you can grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and write down your thoughts and ideas regarding what you have read. These notes will later become an important part of your book report. In case you are not so experienced with reading and analysis on the go, the best way to work with the book is to read it once, then put it aside for a day or two and then come back to it. That way the information you process will settle down and you will be able to generate ideas. As soon as you feel you are ready, get that book in your hands for a second pass. Ideally, you will need to scan through the book bearing the topic of your book report in mind. Concentrate on what your teacher wants you to do, take notes.
Formatting & Structure
Formatting your book report is probably the easiest part of the paper. It is best to work on it once you are totally done with the entire text. Formatting a book report is generally done according to APA standards; however MLA formatting is not uncommon. When you receive instructions from your teacher/instructor/professor, you should pay special attention to the section that stipulates the book report format. Correct formatting can take up to 10% of the grade and can really make a difference. As to the structure, the book report format is a kind of essay and will therefore take the basic essay structure and format. Reiterating what has been said, the structure of your book report should include the following parts: introduction (with the thesis), several body paragraphs and a conclusion.
Language and Tone
A book report is completely factual. It has to revolve around facts from the book, and should also include information on the author, title, place and year of publication as well as a brief summary of the content of the book. For this reason, language and tone should be objective, impartial and impersonal. Please note, however, that should your teacher require a personal book report format, you will be required to write using first person, so once again – please check with your instructor prior to starting the actual work. APA and/or MLA formatting rules also stipulate the language and tone of any paper written within that format, so if you are required to follow MLA/APA rules, you should be consulting their respective manuals. The general rule of thumb is: APA and MLA are used for scholarly writing, most of which requires objective and impersonal style.
Book Report: Writing & Post-Writing
It’s a good idea to start writing by preparing an outline. If you have done some preparatory reading, the notes you have taken are ideal for this. Once you are done jotting down the points you want to mention, proceed by putting some flesh on the bones, provide details and develop the main ideas. In order to write an effective book report, you will need to elaborate your outline into a draft. The draft doesn’t necessarily have to be tidy and neat – its main purpose is to embrace all the ideas that come up to your head in the process. Some ideas may get sifted out in the process, while others may remain. The bottom line is: you won’t be able to keep the information in your head, so better write it down. You can put additional notes in the margins but try to make sure that when you come back to write your final report, you can understand the exact order of your material. Once your first draft is finished, read through it and make sure it is relevant and logical. Throw out thoughts that interrupt the logic and flow of the paper. It’s a good idea to review your paper again within several hours after you complete your draft (don’t do it immediately unless absolutely necessary). After your draft has been polished into the final version of your paper, check your grammar and spelling. Try to use a word processor if possible. Typed book reports look better than handwritten ones. They are easier for your teacher to read and they are easier for you to correct.
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