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Top Tips On Writing Book Reports For High School And College

Let’s start our guide to writing a book report with the definition of this written assignment. A book report is often referred to as a summary of a literary work, but the reality is more complex than that. Although this task is seemingly easy, it takes a lot of analytical and writing skills to summarize a large piece of writing in a limited paper. The typical length of a book report is between 250 and 500 words. Plus, depending on your academic level, book reports start getting more complex and include new elements.

When talking about a book report, it is important to clearly distinguish book reports from book reviews. A book review is something you often have to deal with when studying in school and college, but it is also a common aspect of the literary word. You can see book reviews everywhere, from scientific magazines to weekly newspapers, which means book reviews are often written by professionals and not just students. 

The main objective of a book review is to provide a brief summary of the work, analyze its literary value, and state whether you believe the author was successful in getting the point of the book across to the readers. Evaluating a literary work is a complex task that consists of many elements.

Compared to the book review, the job of writing a book report is arguably easier. Still, if you want to do a good job with your assignment, you need to follow a certain standard of writing a book report. Working on a book report helps you develop analytical and critical thinking skills in addition to teaching you how to compress a big volume of information into a small paper.

Essential Elements Of A Book Report

Starting from middle school, the book report assignment can evolve. By the time you reach higher academic levels, you may be tasked with not only providing a summary of the plot of the book but also doing a deep analysis of the theme or the characters of the literary work.

And while the assignment for your book report can be different, the basic elements that should be present in every book report remain the same. When writing a book report, you will need to include the following mandatory elements:

  • Main information about the book, including the title, author’s name, the name of the publisher, publication year, and a number of pages.
  • The historical setting of the book plot.
  • The most important details of the book plot.
  • The names of the most crucial characters of the book and some information about them.
  • Examples and quotes from the book that can support your point of view and act as evidence.

Steps To Writing A Solid Book Report

Even though the task of writing a book report may seem easy to you, especially if you are already a pro at writing other academic assignments, there are still important steps you need to take to create a strong book report. It’s worth noting that not all of those steps belong to the writing stage — there are also some essential steps you will need to take prior to writing your book report.

Pre-Writing Steps

  1. Unless you have been assigned the book to report on by your teacher, you have absolute freedom in choosing the literary work for your report. Choose a book that sparks your own interest — then you will be able to convince other readers the book is worth reading. Write down any important information regarding the book, including the title, name of the author, and publication details.
  2. As soon as you begin reading, you will need to take lots of notes. Note down the main characters, the plot developments, and any other details you feel may be crucial for your future report. At this point, you can also find and point out the main theme and symbols of the literary work if you are working with a fiction book. When working with a non-fiction book, you will need to take notes of the main ideas of the work.
  3. Write down or highlight any quotes you feel may be helpful for proving your arguments and further strengthening your position.
  4. Once you feel you have enough information to do a solid book report, you will need to organize your notes in a logical manner. Add headings, subheadings, lists, and bullet points to further make your book report look professional.

Using Your Notes In Writing

While gathering the notes while reading a book is a crucial step in writing a book report, it is only the first stage of the writing process. Crafting a book report is a fascinating and highly creative task, but it still has an important objective: to make the readers of your report, which, in your case, will be your teacher and classmates, compelled to give the subject of your book report a better look. In other words, your report needs to convince the audience that the book is worth reading. To achieve this objective, use the following writing tips:

When writing the introduction for your book report, make sure to provide enough details about the book, including the author and the publication details. You can also talk about the circumstances surrounding the writing process. Pay special attention to the sentence where you explain the subject of the story. This sentence should also mention the genre of the book and explain why it is a significant piece of literary work.

The body paragraphs will be the longest part of your report. Here you will need to talk about the plot of the book, providing a detailed summary. Here you should also mention the thesis provided by the author, as well as analyze the author’s writing style and tone.

The conclusion, which will only be a few sentences long, will summarize the ideas provided in your report. Talk about the impact the book had on the literary world and the subjects described in the book. Finally, you will need to state whether you believe this book is worth reading.

Depending on the assignment given by your teacher, you may need to make some amendments or include additional parts into this book report structure.

When you have the first draft of your book report ready, analyze its content to see whether it can be improved. Pay attention to grammar and spelling. You can also add transitional words and phrases between different chapters and sentences of the report to make the flow of the paper more logical and smooth.

How To Write A College Level Book Report

Even though a book report assignment can be usually found in the curriculum of middle and high school students, you may very well be assigned a book report when you are already in college. It goes without saying that in this case, both the assignment and the book report itself are going to be more complex and in-depth.

In essence, the steps to writing a book report for college will be the same as they are in a high school book report writing process. The one big difference is that in addition to the summary of the book, you will also need to provide critical analysis of the work. Plus, more attention should be paid to your formatting. Depending on your teacher’s requirements, you may use the APA, MLA, Chicago, or another format for styling your citations and bibliography.

Despite seeming rather simple and straightforward, the task of writing a book report is actually great for developing a variety of skills that are essential for a successful academic career. When working on a book report, you will learn to summarize and analyze literary works. You will find out how to form a clear and effective argument and how to provide strong, convincing support for your arguments. These skills will help you more than once in your life, so we hope that with our tips, you will find the job of crafting a book report easier and more effective.