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How to Write a Book Report

Books reports are easy to do when one is prepared enough to write them. All one needs is to properly read the book and do his best to follow the teacher’s instructions on what is needed to be submitted. Although there are many ways to write book reports, the most important factor is that the student understands the written word first. Book Report and Book Review First of all, one must understand what the teacher is truly asking for – a book report or a book review. Both are not research papers because it center only on the understanding of a book and not on many other information that need to be gathered.

Although both only ask for a few references and short meaningful comments on the writer and other aspects of the book, the approach to making them are completely different. A book report’s purpose is to show the reader what the book contains so that the audience will know if the book is relevant to their needs or not. It includes a summary and comprehension of the different parts of the book. A book review, on the other hand, requires its writer to be subjective in making the description and evaluation of the book.

Although it also entails a summary and analysis of how it was written, its main purpose is to give a recommendation to its readers of whether the book is worth reading or not. (How To Write A Book Report 2006) The Outline The best way to make a book report is by making a list of what information you would choose to write about. Writing the basic elements down in an outline format will help you to organize your thoughts. (The Book Report 2007) Keep in mind the instructions of your teacher.

However, if the teacher has chosen to give the student a free hand in making the report, one can start by making a description of the book. Outlining the elements that need to be focused on can help describe the book best. This should include the setting, time period, main characters, and plot. The setting is where the story took place. The student must identify if the place is fictional or real. If the author does not tell you explicitly where things are happening, one can deduct from the story. The time period is the era on when the story is happening.

Some writers like to delve in the past and some in the future. The main characters are the people or creatures that the story revolves around. There are writers who like to make the story move around just one character but it is not always the case. The plot is the actual story. It shows what happens to the protagonist or main character. To make your reader understand the plot, choose to write only about the most important things that happen. The easiest way to give the plot is by firstly explaining the plight of the main character when the story opened.

The next sentences should show either the problem of the main character or what it hopes to achieve. Give descriptions on what the story tells on how the problem is solved or how the goal is reached but do not completely give the ending. Let your readers want to read the book themselves. Although a book report needs to be objective, the student can give the reader better sense of what the book is about by writing about the aspects of the book that struck him most. To aid in writing, one can try to decipher what the author wanted the reader to see and if it was clearly expressed in the story.

Non-Fiction Should the work assigned be a non-fiction such as a biography or history book, the descriptive section must have two additional aspects: the subject and summary. The subject is the main message of the book while the summary is what the writer wants to tell about the subject. If it is a biography, the best way to do this is to write some of the main events in the main character’s life. For history or other factual books, give descriptions on what the writer focused on revolving around the subject. The chapters of a book usually show the main ideas of the writer.

The basic principle in making a book report, whether on fiction or non-fiction, is the way the student understands the book. The book reporter must fully comprehend what the author relayed so that the report itself can be effective. Effective Book Reports Depending on what the instructor wants a student to focus on, a book report can be sorted into three types: plot summaries, character analyses, and theme analyses. A plot summary is not a simple retelling of the story. The student needs to explain why he feels the plot is so compelling, or unrealistic, or sappy.

(Writing a Book Report 2007) A careful analysis of the plot is the essence of the report and citing examples or events that happened in the book is expected. A character analysis focuses on the physical, personality and behavioral traits of the different characters involved in the book. Their actions must be related to how the plot develops. To help the student make a character analysis, he should point out the kind of clothes and total impression that the particular character shows the reader. One should take note of the positive aspects and flaws of the character.

Writers usually put a “fatal flaw” in the main characters. This simply means the behavior or aspect of the character that usually gets him into trouble. The way the character speaks and the choice of words can also be relevant to the story. A theme summary focuses on the big ideas that are portrayed in the book. There are students who find this an easier task to make because the theme usually entails a principle that the student himself cares about. Establishing the theme and how it is presented makes for a good report.

However, books sometimes have more than just one theme or involve several themes under a major one. Simply choosing which one is closest to the student’s heart usually makes it easier to do the book report. The theme is best explained by examples taken from the story. The student must show how important the theme is to the plot. The Draft It is wise if the student will make a draft before fully preparing the final report. Doing this allows the student to make mistakes and correct himself before submitting an improper report.

Sometimes, even the best writers have to make several drafts before they are satisfied with what they have written. One of the most crucial parts of a book report is the introductory paragraph. It should be brief but catchy. (Book Report 2006) Some writers prefer to start with a question to get the reader interested. This part of the book report must contain the title, author of the book and the type of story (comedy, adventure, horror or romantic). The Final Report It used to be harder to make final reports because it entailed using a typewriter which leaves very little room for making typographical errors.

However, with the advent of computers, it is highly embarrassing for a student to leave mistyped keys uncorrected. The student must make sure that his grammar and spelling are perfect. If the draft was typed on the computer, cutting and pasting will make things even easier. The draft must be implemented on the proper format. The Proper Format The teacher usually specifies a style manual that he or she wants you to follow. However, the usual format entails that the paper is white with measurements of 216 x 279mm or 8. 5” x 11”.

Margins must be made at 1” on all sides. The paragraphs, quotations and bibliography must be double spaced. The page number is very important and is usually placed with either the student’s name or a shortened title at the upper right hand corner of each page. Stapling at the upper left-hand corner, unless specified by the professor, is enough to bind the report. Citations There are times when the student needs to cite a reference within the body of the report. These citations must be formatted depending on what the instructor prefers.

There are many ways to cite but the following are the most common: The most popular format is the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style. In MLA style you briefly credit sources with parenthetical citations in the text of your paper, and give the complete description of each source in your Works Cited list. (HCC Library 2007) The Works Cited list or Bibliography is a rundown of the resources you used to make the book report. There is a specific format in detailing the important information from the cited sources and these must be listed alphabetically.

The bibliography or works cited list is very important because this is where readers will base their own research should your report merit good study and attention from others. Another citation style is the one endorsed by the American Psychological Association or the APA. Like the MLA, it requires the writer of the report to put the author’s last name and year of publication in a parenthesis when a work is cited within a paragraph. (Cornell University Library) It also has a Reference List which is arranged in alphabetical order.

Another citation style is called Chicago because it is being endorsed by the University of Chicago. Reference List items are listed alphabetically at the end of the research paper. Items are referred to in the body of paper using the In-Text style. (Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide 2007) Its difference with MLA and APA is its use of number brackets [] in the reference list. Just like the Chicago Manual of Style on which it is based, Turabian offers those in the natural and social sciences the option of using an author-date system with notes and parenthetical references.

(Turabian Style 2004) This citation style allows the writer to use footnotes and end notes. In the text, the note reference follows the passage or quotation it refers to by a superscripted Arabic numeral. Notes are arranged numerically at the foot (footnotes) of the page or at the end (endnotes) of the book report. (Turabian Style 2003) Study Guide Aids The use of study guide aids can greatly help a student have a quick review and guidance in writing the book report especially when he finds its difficult to understand the writer’s style or language.

However, these should be used only as support to a student’s comprehension and appreciation of the book. What is most important is that the student understands the book. Conclusion A book report is easy to make if the student first understands the literature very well. There are many ways to write the book depending on what aspect of the book will be focused on: plot, character, theme, etc. Outlining and drafting are necessary to ensure the good flow and clarity of the report.

Proper use of the basic format and citation styles will also present the report better to its readers. Although study guides are helpful in analyzing a book, the major responsibility of the student is on understanding the book itself. No matter how good a student is in writing style, the best book reports will still prove how much the student has comprehended and appreciated the book.

Works Cited

“APA Citation Style. ” November 2002. Cornell University Library IRPC Documentation Committee. 14 May 2007 <http://www. library. cornell. edu/newhelp/res_strategy /citing/apa. html>.

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