Writing a College Book Report: Tips from 20 Experts

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Writing a College Book Report: Tips from 20 Experts

While growing up as a grammar school student, the classic book report was probably your version of the scary college term paper or research project.  Complete with three-pronged folders and cover pages colored with crayons, there's good reason to believe you'd never encounter those again.  Even though it wasn't clear at the time, these elementary school book reports challenged you to pay attention to theme, plot, style, and fictional character development.  Upon graduation and onward through high school, these early lessons prepared you for the complex literary papers and writing assignments that would await for you in college.

Even though book reports remain a memory of students' younger days in school, they certainly didn't vanish along with show-and-tell or macaroni craft day.  Many college students will be revisited by the book report throughout the duration of their studies.  However, college-level book reports won't encourage cover pages decorated with stickers or require you to pick a story about your favorite iguana.  While college-level book reports are considerably more academic and involved, these papers should be approached with the same enthusiasm for learning that you had during those early days at school.

 

Cover To Cover

Reading an assigned book is the obvious first step to any college book report.  While it's tempting to just skim over the pages or refer to online versions of cliff notes, university professors expect significantly more from their students than certain high school teachers.  Given these new academic expectations for students, it's crucial to start reading the assigned book immediately, so you're not forced into a corner toward the end.

To ensure that you're completely absorbing every aspect of the book, consider underlining and highlighting key points in the work.  By taking notes and color coding as you go along, it'll be much easier to go back and reference the materials for your outline, rough draft, and final report.  If you'd prefer to not decorate book pages with marker and pens, you could use post-its or organize your notes into a spiral-ring notebook.

 

This Is Not A Book Review

After finishing your assigned book, it's impossible to not form an opinion of it by the end.  Even though it may be tempting to include your own personal opinion of the work, avoid turning your report in a book review at all costs.  This is not a New York Times review piece or a rerun of Siskel and Ebert.  The main purpose of a book report is to reflect your understanding of the plot, theme, characters, and genre of the work, so avoid the extra trouble of crafting a personal opinion on top of what's actually expected from you.  However, while a book report shouldn't be construed as a negative or positive review, the report will still require a thesis statement that may prove its relevancy to a certain historical period, its contribution to a particular style of literature, or any other route that can demonstrate a deeper understanding of the work.

 

Make Your Report Thesis Stand Out

Crafting an original, thought-provoking thesis can definitely feel a little intimidating at first, so it's helpful to research scholarly articles and journals to gain further inspiration for your argument.  It's also important to keep in mind any special parameters your professor may have for the book report; perhaps your professor wants you to take a socio-anthropological perspective or make a comment about the visual culture of the time.  Regardless of the guidelines, this is your opportunity to stand out and impress your professor with a clever thesis that showcases your talent.  Coming up with a great thesis statement can inspire a deeper appreciation for the book, and you may begin to view literature in a new and exciting way!

 

The Outline Phase

The outline phase is that nice halfway point between concluding a book and buckling down for the final stretch, so this is great time to gather up any scholarly research you've acquired and notes taken during your reading.  The first step of your outline is to craft an introduction for your report; this is where you'll state your amazing thesis in about one or two lines.  Besides your thesis statement, flesh out your introduction by briefly summarizing the book you've read and include a snippet about the author, as well.

Dedicate the rest of your outline to the body of your report; this is your opportunity to connect the thesis to the book and research you've gathered to support your argument.  Once you've organized the thesis in an orderly fashion, you'll feel more confident about the direction of the paper.  While drafting your outline, you may even spot inconsistences in your thesis, which could prompt a little fine-tuning before the writing phase.

 

The Rough And Final Draft

If you have chosen to do an online, then you can give yourself a nice pat on the back because you've definitely made the writing portion a lot easier.  Since you've already organized which paragraph goes where, then you can dedicate this phase toward crafting a report that's filled with lovely and impressive writing.  As you begin to work through the report, you'll need to insert appropriate quotes that provide strong evidence for your thesis.  However, avoid getting too quote-happy and quoting full paragraphs throughout your paper.  Professors become physically ill when they read pages of "fluff" that's meant to reach the required word count, so keep your eye on the prize and ensure that your writing is richly informative throughout the report.

 

Polishing Up Your Book Report

It sure feels great writing that final line of a book report! After taking a much-deserved television or snack break, you should return to the report with the fresh eyes required for last minute proof reading and editing.  Oddly enough, this final stage can actually absorb a lot of time, but it's completely necessary to ensure that your writing appears clean and authoritative to the professor.  Once you've finished a final read-through of the report, you're free to congratulate yourself on a job well done!



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Viewpoint of Author #2
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A book report written in college should display college-level analysis and writing.  This means that a college level book report must be a formal critical document that reveals the writer's thorough understanding of and engagement with the text.  College level book reports, in other words, are more like essays than they are like the short summaries and brief reviews a student likely wrote for his or her high school level story critiques.  

A college level project should transition smoothly from one section to the next in such a way that the document as a whole reads as a coherent and consistent text—much in the same way as an article.  In addition, the document should have a thesis much like an essay would that is presented in the report's introduction.  This thesis should be an assertion of the reader's overall assessment and analysis of the book.  For instance, in a book about World War II that the student found to be an excellent and accurate depiction of the reality of life in occupied France, the thesis might be that "John Doe's painstakingly researched monograph on life in Nazi-occupied France presents a historically accurate and emotionally moving depiction of the reality of French life under the Nazi regime."  Notice that in this thesis, the author's name is mentioned, the type of book is identified (monograph), the subject of the book is clearly outlined (life in Nazi-occupied France), and the writer presents his assessment of the book (it presents a historically accurate and emotionally moving depiction of the reality of French life under the Nazi regime).  If this book were not a fabrication and actually had a title, the title would also be included in the thesis statement.

As with any other thesis-based text, a college level project should expand, develop, and explain the thesis throughout the duration.  The best way to do this is to integrate a summary of the book with a critical, text-based development of the report's thesis.  For instance, the writer may present an overview of the content of the first section of the book and comment on how this part of the book develops the historical record of pre-war France, all the while pointing out the author's inclusion of particular details of French everyday life.  Next, when he summarizes and analyzes the section about life in occupied France, he can contrast some of those everyday details from pre-war France with the everyday details from occupied France.  Just as in an article, each paragraph should relate in some way back to the thesis statement so that by the end of the document, the reader is aware not only of what the book is about, but how the book can be understood in terms of the writer's thesis.

College level book reports should end by commenting on the style of the book and presenting the writer's overall impressions of the book's quality.  It is also appropriate for college level book reports to offer suggestions about what groups of people may find the book most insightful or informational.



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Viewpoint of Author #3
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During the course of their academic careers, most students will be required to write both book reports and book reviews.  The writing of book reports begins in the lower grades and continues throughout college as a way for instructors to ensure that their students are reading the assigned materials and that they understand what they read.

Book reports differ from book reviews in several ways.  A book report is a factual presentation of the contents of the book, whereas a book review presents the writer's view of the book.  College instructors might require book reports far more often than book reviews simply because they have the job of making sure that students comprehend the material, not in determining what their opinion is on the course readings.

Younger students begin early learning to write book reports on their favorite fiction books.  After selecting a book, the student is then required to write a book report which is, at first, well-guided by the teacher.  A young student is generally given a sheet to fill out upon which he or she will need to simply answer a few questions to form the document.  Such questions generally include the name of the book, the author's name, the setting of the book, the main characters, and perhaps one short sentence on what happens first in the story, what happens second, what happens third, how the story ends, and so on.  Guiding young students in this manner ensures that, farther down the road, they will understand how to put together a good story review.

As student's progress, those guide sheets become fewer and farther between.  Students that have used a guide sheet for years should know how to take the details and sentences that he or she filled in for so long and use that same format to construct a story review.  Some students continue to create their own guide sheets long after the teacher stops providing them.

In college, a guide sheet might be otherwise known as an outline.  Many students rely heavily on an outline to create their document because an outline allows the student to list the basics that will be required in the document and then flesh out the details as he or she writes the actual paper.  A good project outline includes basics such as the title of the book, the author's name, the setting of the book, the time period in which the events take place, the main characters of the book, and the plot.

Although little has changed in the writing of book reports, college students are often stymied by the type of books they are assigned to write such reports on.  One of the primary differences between lower-grade reports and college or university book reports is that the books are more difficult to read.  They are longer, more detailed, and, more often than not, they are non-fiction books such as autobiographies, subject-specific books, and/or historical presentations.  What students need to remember is that, when they find themselves at a loss for how to prepare a college-level book report, they can always fall back on those basic skills they learned in elementary school.



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Viewpoint of Author #4
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Many students believe that their days of writing book reports are over once they finish high school.  But, novel critiques are as common in college as in the lower grades.  Most college book reports are assigned in English literature courses, but college book reports can be assigned as a part of any college course.

A college book report is very much like any project that students have previously written.  Although the subject of a college book report is likely more difficult than a high school book report and college instructors likely expect a higher level of work, the concept of the writing assignment is the same.  College book reports are assigned to students to gauge and enhance their writing abilities and to test their critical thinking and analysis skills.  So, although college book reports might appear to be redundant assignments to some students, they are actually quite useful to both students and instructors.

A college book report is different from a college book review.  A college book report recounts and analyzes the events of a book.  Just like the projects that students wrote in grade school, a college project should also include information about the author, the setting of the story, the characters, and the plot of the book.  However, professors do expect college students to write book reports that delve deeper significantly into the story.

After reading the assigned book, learners should make sure that they outline their document.  The outline for a college book report is similar to those that students followed in high school.  A basic outline includes the setting of the book, the time line, the main characters, and the plot.  Beginning with a solid outline can help students direct the actual writing of the college book report and help them develop a comprehensive report.

Another difference between book reports required of pre-college students and the college book report is the fact that college book reports are often required for non-fiction books.  In non-fiction college book reports a student should discuss the topic of the book and summarize what the author had to say on the topic.

After presenting the body of the college book report, the student should be sure to conclude the report by discussing his or her own thoughts on the book.  Unlike a book review, however, a book report is not made up entirely of the writer's opinion of the book; rather, it contains only a concluding paragraph which briefly summarizes the writer's opinion of the book's value.



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Viewpoint of Author #5
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When students are required to write a college novel review for the first time, the assignment can be rather confusing.  Even though, many learners have been writing book reports since middle school, they may not understand what types of things should go into a college story review.  Many students still believe that book reports are for eighth graders; not college pupils.

College writing assignments are often more time consuming and thorough than writing assignments that students perform for their high school and middle school classes.  Therefore, learners can expect the same level of increased requirements when it comes to what they need to do in order to write a college story review.  College book reports are more advanced and in-depth than most high school and middle school book reports and require a high level of writing and reading skills.  

A book report, in general, is a recap of a book.  Students need to read a book completely in order to write a college book report; they cannot simply read a book summary or watch a movie in order to write a convincing story review.  When learners write college book reports, their professors expect them to have actually dedicated their time to understanding and processing information that was presented in a book.  

In order to write a college book report, a student needs to select a particular subject for the document.  Often, a professor will assign a subject about which students need to write college story critiques.  For example, if students were required to read Wonder Boys as part of a class, a professor will expect that the student read the book instead of (or in addition to) watching the movie.  The professor might require learners to write about how a theme, such as dependency, influenced the book.  Students should be aware that some themes may be different in the book than in the movie.  

As learners write college book reports, they should outline the novel critique before actually beginning with the project itself.  The outline should help learners to have a format and road map for the information and ideas that they will present.  The novel review itself should always begin with an introduction into the literary work.  The introduction should include background information about the particular theme that the learner will include in the novel critique as well as a thesis statement.  The thesis statement should provide a brief summary of the student's purpose for the novel review and conclusions about the role of themes that were presented in the book.

Each body paragraph should support the thesis.  For example, if learners write a college book report about Wonder Boys, students might include information about drug dependency, dependency on receiving affection, and even dependency on favorite items of clothing (such as the professor's writing robe).  The conclusion of the document should provide insight into how these themes impact the overall effectiveness of the book and may even include the student's insight into how effective the author used the themes.  

When learners write college book reports, they need to be sure that they are able to differentiate between book reports and literature reviews.  In higher level academic settings, such as college, a book report will take on more characteristics of a literature review, as students will be encouraged to apply their critical thinking skills when analyzing the book.  However, when a student is asked to write a college book report, the student is basically reporting on information contained in the book.  

A literature review is, by nature, a critical work that requires students to not only write about information contained in the book, but also information that may have influenced the writing of the book.  Students should use their thinking analytical skills when writing literature reviews, but may only need to use their information gathering skills when writing a story review.



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Viewpoint of Author #6
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When a student needs book report help, there are a variety of resources that he or she can use.  In order to ensure that the student finds the right resources for his or her assignment assistance needs, the student should first define what his or her needs are.  Students require book report help for a variety of reasons, including the following: researching (reading the book and understanding the concepts within it), outlining, drafting, writing, editing, and proofreading.

If a student needs assistance researching the book that he or she needs to write about for a novel critique, there are many resources available.  Some resources might include audio books, which might be helpful for students that have difficulty focusing on written words or that may have reading disabilities, such as dyslexia.  Audio books can provide book reports help only when the audio book is available for a particular book.  

Students might need book report help for their document outlines.  The project outlines should provide a clear map for how the learner will write the document.  Some resources available for book reports help with regards to outlines might be: a teacher, tutor, or professional writer that the pupil can hire to create a project outline.

If a student needs book report help to draft or write a novel critique, the pupil can work closely with a writer or the pupil can pass the project onto a writer.  When the student works closely with a writer, the student may review paragraphs that the writer drafts or the writer may review paragraphs that the student drafts.  Alternatively, the student could hire a writer to write the first draft of a novel review so that the pupil can expand and complete the novel critique himself or herself.  

When a student needs book reports help from a professional writer, the student should define what he or she expects from the writer prior to beginning the project so that the writer knows how he or she should proceed with the project.

Students may also use a teacher, tutor, or professional writer for assistance with the editing and proofreading.  These forms of book reports help can only come in once the novel critique paper has been written.  Often, if a professional writer writes a novel critique, the writer will work with the student to edit it in order to ensure that it meets the assignment criteria.

Book report help is similar to paper writing assistance.  However, when a student needs book reports help, the student always has a reference material that he or she needs to read or have a writer read in order to create the document.  On the contrary, when a student needs paper writing assistance, the student does not always have to review a book in order to create the document.  

Therefore, the major difference between book report help and paper writing assistance is that in order to get book report help, the student (or writer) needs to have read (or listened to) a book.  When getting paper writing assistance, the student (or writer) simply needs to understand the topic about which the report needs to be written.  Thus, paper writing assistance cannot be synonymous with book report help, but book report help can be synonymous with paper writing assistance.



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Viewpoint of Author #7
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The book report is one of the most common assignments that teachers make, especially high school English teachers.  Such assignments are formal academic documents that learners write in order to recap events, themes, and ideas presented in a book.  The book report is not intended to be a forum in which students present their own ideas about a book.  Instead, novel critiques simply allow students to summarize books so that teachers understand that the students have read and understood assigned books.

There are many subjects about which a student can write a novel critique, including themes, ideas, events, characters, and more.  Teachers will usually indicate to students what topics students should use in order to write the novel critiques.  

In order for students to write effective projects, students need to understand the novel critique format that is most widely used and effective.  Because book reports provide recaps of a book, most book reports will be chronological.  For example, if a student is writing a book report about themes in a book, the student should begin the novel critique by introducing the theme in the introduction.  The introduction should also provide some background information about the book.  

The thesis of a novel review might indicate how the author has used the theme throughout the book and for what purpose the author has used the theme.  The thesis should appear in the introductory paragraph and should be a one-sentence statement that provides the purpose for the document.

After the introduction and the thesis, learners should create the body of the document using paragraphs that support the thesis.  Therefore, if a student is writing a book report on a theme, each paragraph may provide an example of how the theme was used.  

The conclusion of the novel review will tie together all of the paragraphs and the thesis.  Students might provide their own insight into the author's use of theme in the conclusion by describing why they think an author used a particular theme or by explaining how effective or ineffective the author's writing has been.

Book reports are different than literature reviews, though the two are often confused.  The book report assignment is most often used to allow students to recap a book and describe certain aspects of the book in detail.  Teachers often assign novel critiques so that they can be assured that students have read a book and understood the book.  

Literature reviews, however, require learners to analyze a literary work and apply critical thinking skills to the work.  While book reports allow students to report on facts from a book, such as themes and ideas, a literary report may take into account not only themes and ideas, but also author influences, social cues from the time the book was written, and more.  A literature review, therefore, not only requires students to read and understand a book, but it also requires students to think critically about it.



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Viewpoint of Author #8
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Most students will need to work on book report projects at some point in their academic careers.  Book report projects allow students to read a book, learn how to summarize the book, and work on their writing skills.  Therefore, novel critique projects are often assigned to students in lower grade levels who are still learning how to read critically and write projects that flow well.

There are certain steps that students need to take when they work on any type of book report project.  First, the student needs to read the book about which he or she will summarize.  When a student reads a book, the student may want to take notes so that he or she can quickly refer back to important points within the book that he or she may wish to include in the novel review itself.  

Many students think that they can simply watch a movie about a book or read book summaries instead of reading a book.  However, if a teacher has assigned a book, then the teacher has also probably watched a movie or read related summaries.  Because movies and summaries often contain information that is not in a book or that is not as thorough as information in a book, students may have a harder time creating an accurate book report based on these methods alone.  Teachers will usually be able to recognize the difference.  

After a student has read the book, the pupil can create a summary of important points.  The student may want to think critically about the character development, themes in the book, setting and more.  Many students will be able to draw parallels between the scene and the events in the book or the characters and the setting.  Therefore, understanding all important parts of the book can help learners to create a more thorough book report project.  

The novel review itself should contain this summary of the book.  It should also contain a recap of the scene, themes, characters and more.  Some book report project assignments will require that students think critically about how the book is developed and what tools an author uses to create the book.  However, all novel review project assignments are different, so students should always review the assignment guidelines in order to make sure they meet the needs of the assignment when they write a report.  

A book report project is different from a literature review.  While some novel review projects require learners to be critical and use their analytical thinking skills, many book report projects only require learners to provide a summary of the book.  A literature review, however, requires students to be critical of many aspects of a book, including the author's environment.  Therefore, a literary report is often a higher-level assignment and a book report is a lower-level assignment.



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Viewpoint of Author #9
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Academic book report writing follows a fairly standard format whether that book report is for an English class or Economics course.  A book report is not merely a summary of a book, but an analysis of the book's many components.  Therefore, successful book report writing will include two essential elements: (1) a brief summary of the book's plot (if it is fiction or an autobiography) or thesis (if it is non-fiction, other than an autobiography) and (2) critical commentary on the book's clarity and effectiveness.  

When writing book reports, avoid dedicating too much time or space to the summary, as the main point of the project is the author's ideas and comments on the book.  The summary element of a novel critique should be no more than 1/3 the total length.  This summary should highlight the main points or actions presented in the book in order to provide the reader with an understanding of what the book is about.  It is customary when writing book reports about works of fiction to avoid giving away the ending so as not to spoil the action for another reader.  However, it should still strive to inform the reader of the plot without revealing the entire story.  For instance, if one were writing a summary of the story of Cinderella for a novel critique, it might be as follows:

After her father's death, the formerly well-to-do Cinderella is forced into a life of servitude by her stepmother and stepsisters.  Though she must labor unrelentingly and forego her former life of luxury, she resists bitterness and maintains a positive and hopeful spirit.  This attitude is rewarded when a fairy comes to Cinderella to grant her an opportunity to turn her rags to riches for one night in order to attend the kingdom-wide ball.  At the ball, the beautiful Cinderella meets the Prince, and they fall in love.  However, their bliss is cut short because Cinderella must rush away before the fairy's spell expires at midnight.  She exits the palace, leaving behind only her lovely glass slipper, having never told the Prince her name.  The bereft Prince embarks on a tour of the kingdom testing the slipper on the feet of all the eligible women to find his beloved.  The remainder of the story is devoted to his quest.  

Notice that in the summary above, the entire Cinderella story is encapsulated without giving away the end of the story.  Of course, all of us can anticipate the happy reunion of Cinderella and the Prince, but most books' endings will not be so apparent, and will therefore allow the writer to hold the secrets of the story while still informing her reader about the story's main points.  Notice also that the summary merely outlines the story without commenting on it.  The commenting aspect of book report writing comes in part two.

After the summary has been objectively reported, the writer of the document should present his ideas of the book.  This will likely include both positive and negative aspects, as it is rare that a reader will be 100% satisfied with every part of a book.  This section should identify the main themes of the book (if it is fiction) or the main arguments used to defend the thesis (if it is nonfiction).  It should then comment on how effectively these themes or arguments are developed, using evidence from the text.  This section should also comment on the book's presentation—it's grammar, spelling, formatting, etc.—and the author's style—her way of writing and using language.  When writing book reports, remember that the commentary section is more important than the summary.  The commentary should be roughly 2/3 of the report and should thoroughly address the critical components discussed above.



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Viewpoint of Author #10
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When a student has to write a novel critique, the student needs to be sure that he or she follows the proper book report writing guidelines.  These guidelines may include instructions that were supplied by a professor or they may include more general book report writing guidelines.  However, regardless of a student's grade level, the student should take some time to learn about the proper methods used to write story critiques.

The first step that students must take in order to write effective projects is to review the project assignments.  Most professors will give students printed project requirements whenever they have to write a story review.  Often, these requirements will provide a list of books that students can read, along with instructions for what to include in the novel critique, including a page count.  

Next, students need to select the book that they will read for the document.  Often, professors will allow students to select their own books from a list of potential books.  If the professors to no provide a reading list, then students may be allowed to select their own books, as long as the book follows any basic requirements that the teacher has.  For example, if a student is enrolled in an anthropology course, then students may have to read a book of ethnographies, buy they may be able to choose which book they prefer.  

After a student has selected his or her book, the student needs to carefully read the book.  Students should actively read the book, which means that they should take notes and think carefully about themes, ideas, and tools that are used in the book.  Often, when learners write book reports, they need to refer to these tools, themes and ideas in detail.

Students should then complete an outline as the next step.  The outline should provide the guideline and content that students will use when they write story critiques.  Once the outline is complete, students may actually begin to write a book report based on the outline.  

It is important for students to be aware that if they are required to write a novel critique, they need to follow traditional project writing guidelines and format.  A book report is similar to other academic writings, such as a literary review.  Both documents are based on other written works.  However, a literary report is often subjective, whereas a book report recounts and explains devices and facts that are presented in a book in an objective manner.



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Viewpoint of Author #11
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When learning how to write a novel critique, it is important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of the report is to summarize what occurred in the book.  At the same time, you will usually be expected to keep the novel critique to 1,000 words or less.  Therefore, you will have to pull out the most important pieces of information regarding the book in order to properly summarize its contents within your word allotment.

Of course, you will first need to read the book before you can write a story review.  As you are reading the book, take notes along the way.  Your notes should include key events as well as summaries of what took place in each of the chapters you have read.

Book report writing requires diligent note-taking.  There are many methods that you can use in order to take notes as you read.  If you own the book and you do not mind marking in it, you can highlight certain key points directly within the book.  Another option is to place Post-it notes on pages containing important information.  Alternatively, you can maintain a "reading journal" in which you can write information as you read.  Be sure to make note of the pages where the important information is contained so you can refer back to it later, if necessary.

After you have finished reading the book, you can gather all of your notes together.  Look your notes over and begin organizing your thoughts so you can begin the writing process.  In order to help get your thoughts organized, you should ask yourself what someone should know about the book.  Then, look through your notes and determine which ones help answer this question.

By having the main idea of your book report in mind, you can more easily sort through your notes in order to determine which information is relevant and which information does not need to be included.

Once you actually begin the writing process, you need to be certain to discuss the main point of the book.  If it is a nonfiction book, you should discuss why the author wrote the book and you should briefly outline its main ideas.  If it is a fictional piece of work, on the other hand, you should provide a brief summary of the plot.  You should then go on to provide more detail about the story and to discuss its more dramatic points.

While you don't want to get caught up in all of the details of the story while writing a novel critique, you should provide a few details in order to help illustrate your broad ideas.  As such, a good project should include both general information as well as some specific details that help to further bring the book to life.

After summarizing the book and including relevant details, you will need to write a conclusion to your story review.  Your conclusion should summarize the significance of the book, as well as what the book contributes to the world and/or the author's main message.



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Viewpoint of Author #12
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Many students have had the experience of writing book reports from their elementary and middle school days.  However, when faced with a similar assignment in college, those students may wonder how to write book reports at a level appropriate for their new academic environment.  A novel review for college is radically different from a book report that a student may have completed in elementary, middle, or even high school.  A college book report is expected to go beyond summary and the reasons why the reader likes or does not like the book.  It must include a significant element of analysis and critical consideration.  To analyze a book requires carefully considering all of its major components—content, style, presentation, research, etc.—to determine if they are valid, engaging, and professional.  This is perhaps the most important element of collegiate level book report writing, and the one most important to those wishing to learn how to write book reports successfully.

Most book reports should indicate the title of the book, name of the author, and year the book was published in the first paragraph of the novel review itself.  This paragraph may also indicate the book's subject and the overall feelings of the writer towards the book.  Remember, however, that this is only the introduction, and should not reveal too much about either the writer's analysis or the book's summary.  A comprehensive summary should come after the introductory paragraph.

There is no specific formula regarding how to write book report summaries.  However, there are a few guidelines one should follow.  The writer should avoid spending too much time or space on the summary.  This is because the primary objective of the project is to present the writer's ideas and comments on the book.  The summary element of the document should therefore be no more than 1/3 the total length.  This summary should highlight the main points or actions presented in the book in order to provide the reader with an understanding of what the book is about.  It is important for those learning how to write book report summaries to avoid giving away the ending of a work of fiction so as not to spoil the action for another reader.  The summary section should also avoid commenting on the text.  The commenting comes after the summary, in the critical analysis section.

Writers unfamiliar with critical textual analysis may be unsure of how to write book report analysis.  Analysis is simply the writer's ideas, supported with evidence from the text.  The analysis section should identify the main themes of the book (if it is fiction) or the main arguments used to defend the thesis (if it is nonfiction).  It should then comment on how effectively these themes or arguments are developed, using evidence from the text.  This section should also comment on the book's presentation (its grammar, spelling, formatting, etc.) and the author's style (her way of writing and using language).  When writing book reports, remember that the commentary section is more important than the summary.  The analysis component of the document should be roughly 2/3 of the report and should thoroughly address the critical components discussed above.  

If students have further questions about how to write story critiques, they may benefit from reading other novel reviews, enlisting the assistance of a classmate, or seeking the advice of their instructor.



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Viewpoint of Author #13
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Writing book report documents can be a challenge for students that are not English majors or that do not excel in writing or reading.  When writing book reports, students not only need to read a book, but they also need to understand the book and then translate their understanding of the book to a story review.  Therefore, writing book reports not only requires that students are adept readers, but they also must think critically about what they have read and be able to write a thorough document about the book.  Book report writing can be challenging and time consuming for many pupils.  

One of the first things students need to think about when writing book reports is how well they understand a book.  In order to write an effective project, students need to understand the book in general as well as specific themes and ideas that are presented in the book.  Therefore, when writing book reports, many learners benefit by reviewing book summaries after they have read the book in order to be sure that they understand critical concepts in the book.  

Next, in order to write a project that includes all the important information in a well-formatted manner, learners should outline the novel critique before they begin writing it.  Writing project outlines helps to give students a road map for the completion of the novel review and makes the novel critique flow well.  Students can usually present a project outline to a teacher before they begin writing book reports so that the teacher can approve the outline or suggest that the student add additional features to the document.  

Finally, when writing book reports, students need to make sure that they follow their outlines and include all important information.  A book report is basically a recap of a book, so students may not need to think critically about the specific implications of a book.  They simply need to have understood what happened in the book and be able to translate that information into their own words for the document.  

Writing book reports is different than writing literature reviews.  Such assignments are basic summaries of a book or of key concepts within a book.  A literature review, however, is a critical analysis of certain themes or elements of a literary work.  Therefore, a literary report requires criticism and an in-depth level of thinking.  A book report simply requires that a student has understood the themes and concepts within a book.



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Viewpoint of Author #14
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Most students have had to write reports at some point in their primary and secondary education.  However, students in college may wonder how to write a novel review for school that is appropriate for the collegiate level.  There are no exact instructions for how to write story reviews for college unless the instructor of the course issues such specifications; however, there are general guidelines students can follow to help ensure that their documents are accomplished and sophisticated texts.

Students wondering how to write a novel review for a college course often fail to consider the most important step in the composition process: careful reading.  College reading requires interpretation and analysis in addition to understanding.  Students should therefore not only thoroughly comprehend the book's concepts but also consider and analyze those concepts.  In addition, learners should take notes while reading and mark important passages in the text.  These notes and reminders will be the foundation of the novel review itself.

Once the reading is complete, the student should construct a concise but thorough summary of the book's contents.  This summary should touch on all of the main concepts of the book and should explain how the book presented and explained those concepts; however, it should do so in an extremely condensed manner.  Many students who are unfamiliar with how to write book reports devote too much of the story review to summary.  It is best to limit the summary to roughly 1/3 the length of the entire document.

After the summary has been written, the student should transition into a new paragraph that begins to analyze the book.  When learning how to write story reviews for college, many learners neglect the analysis section of the report, and to their detriment.  This section should be the longest section of the story review, and should critically discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the author's ideas and the presentation of those ideas.  This analysis should be rooted in the text itself, meaning the student needs to refer to the notes and marked passages he or she recorded while reading to point to specific instances in the text that help to elucidate the student's interpretation.  

Once the analysis has been presented, the student should close with a paragraph presenting his or her personal likes and dislikes about the book.  This is not the same as the analysis section, which is intended to objectively and critically assess the book.  Rather, this paragraph presents the student's individual opinions about the book and the reasons for those opinions.  This is the difference between how to write a book review and how to write a story review.  A book review does not include a paragraph asserting the student's likes and dislikes, but a book report is often incomplete without it.



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Viewpoint of Author #15
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When writing a novel critique, many learners have trouble understanding the format and flow that they need to use.  A book report is a specialized type of academic writing that requires students not only to analyze a book, but also to prepare a summary of facts and situations in the book.  Writing a book report also requires that a student read a book in order to create the report—not just the summary.

The first step in writing a book report is to read the book that has been assigned by the professor.  If a book has not been assigned, then a student can usually select his or her own book to read for a particular course.  The student should read the full book.  Many students watch a movie that is based on a book or read a book summary instead of reading the full book.  This system may not provide the same amount of information that the book provides.  Therefore, learners should always read the entire book when writing story critiques.

After the student has read the book, the student needs to make sure that he or she understands the book.  The student should think about themes, ideas, events, and characters, in particular.  These elements can help a learner to structure the document.  

Once the student has analyzed the book and processed information that he or she learned from the book, the pupil can begin writing a project outline.  Writing book reports is always easier when the student has an outline for how the novel review will flow and for what information the learner will include.  

The next step towards writing a book report is to actually begin the writing itself.  The student needs to take time to analyze the style that he or she will use.  The information that the student includes is also important and should flow well together from one sentence and paragraph to the next.  

Writing book reports is different than writing literature reviews.  A book report is a basic factual report of information, themes, and ideas that are contained within a book.  However, a literary report is an analysis of a piece of literature.  Literature reviews require critical thinking and an advanced level of understanding about a particular literary piece and its context within the external culture of its time.  A book report, however, is a basic recap of information or ideas within a book.



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Viewpoint of Author #16
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Many students will be required to write book report assignments in their college classes.  Such assignments are comprised of summaries, analyses, and opinions of a book.  Unlike the novel critiques students may have written in high school, however, college book reports will usually be on scholarly texts and will typically require an advanced level of critical analysis on the student's part.  Learning to write book reports in such a manner requires students to develop critical reading and writing skills.  To write book report assignments at a college level is therefore as much about reading as it is about writing.

Careful reading is necessary in order to write book reports well.  Careful reading entails reading in an engaged manner so that the reader is actively digesting, assimilating, and challenging the information presented in the text.  Most of the reading students do in college should be careful reading; unfortunately, most students do not know the difference between regular and careful reading.  Regular reading is the type of reading done when reading for pleasure or when casually reading the newspaper.  In this type of reading, the primary objective is to glean the main point of the text.  Careful reading, on the other hand, goes beyond regular reading to determine not only the main point of the text, but the way those points are being made, the style of the writing being used, and the quality of the arguments and examples being presented.  Careful reading requires the reader to pay close attention to every sentence and to underline, highlight, and make notes as she proceeds through the text.  These marks in the text will be referenced later when the student is assembling his thoughts for the document.

There are three primary components of a novel review: an introduction, a summary, and an analysis.  The introduction of the story review identifies the book's title, author, and genre.  The genre is the type of writing the book is—memoir, historical text, self-help book, etc.  It is also appropriate, but not always necessary, to write book report introductions in such a way as to provide background information on the book's topic.  For instance, if the novel critique were on a certain scientific theory, it would help the reader if the writer provided some explanation of that theory in the introduction.

A summary of the book comes next.  The summary should be comprehensive, but as concise as possible.  Many learners write projects that are mostly summary, but this should be avoided.  The point of a novel review is to give an analysis and opinion of the book, not to inform the reader on the book's every detail.  

After the summary, the document should present analysis on the book and the reader's opinions of the quality of the book.  To write book report analyses that are appropriate for college will require the reader to go back to the notes he or she wrote in the text of the book and use those excerpts to develop text-centered examples that analyze how the book presented its ideas and how successful it was in doing so.  Often, a book report will end with the writer's general recommendations on whether or not others should read the book.



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Viewpoint of Author #17
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A high school book report is a common writing assignment for many high school pupils.  In fact, novel critiques are some of the most common writing assignments amongst all middle and high school pupils.  Because they are so ubiquitous, students should learn how to write high school book reports effectively if they wish to receive high grades in their classes.

In most cases, learners will have to write their high school book reports for English courses.  When students are assigned a novel critique, they should take systematic steps in order to make sure that they complete the project properly.  

First, the student should determine what the exact high school book report assignment is.  Many students will have a page count that they need to follow as well as a specific report format.  Students may also have to write their high school book reports on a particular book that has been assigned by a professor.  

In some cases, learners will be able to select their own high school book report topics.  In such a case, the student should select a book that interests him or her.  Students may ask teachers for guidance in selecting the right book for their high school story review.  

Once a student has decided on a book for the project, the student should read the book carefully.  Many students benefit by taking detailed notes about the book so that they can more easily recall what transpired in the book.  Students need to keep in mind that they should also use literary devices to learn more about how to write a book so that they can refer to these devices.  Devices may include theme, setting, and character development.  

Students should draft an outline of their high school book reports before they write the novel review itself.  The outline will include the format and content that students will include.  By using an outline, learners will have an easier time writing the high school novel review itself.  

It is important for students to remember that there are many different types of academic writing assignments that they will need to write.  A high school book report is not the same as a literary review, for example.  A literary review is often subjective and written for a higher grade level.  However, a high school book report is generally a simple recap of what occurred in a book and of how effectively the author used particular literary devices.



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Viewpoint of Author #18
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A student book report is a student-composed summary and assessment of a single text.  Student book reports can be assigned at all stages of education, from elementary school through college.  Of course, the expectations for the document will vary depending on the academic level at which the report is being composed.  Most students become familiar with book reports in high school, and are surprised when their college book reports do not receive the same grades as their high school reports.  This is because college book reports are intended to be more focused on analysis than summary, and must demonstrate a much more complex level of thought.

Every student book report consists of three primary sections: an introduction, a summary, and an analysis.  In the introduction, it should identify the title of the book, the name of the author, the topic of the book, and the book's genre.  The genre of a book is the particular type of book it is.  Some books are history books.  Other books are self-help books, memoirs, poetry volumes, etc.  

Following the introduction, a student project should present a summary of the book.  This will differ depending on whether the book is a fiction or non-fiction book.  The summary of a fiction book should be a plot summary, meaning a description of the action of the book and the way that action is presented.  A summary of a non-fiction book, however, is idea-centered rather than action-centered.  This means that the summary should identify the book's thesis, or main point, and then discuss how that thesis is developed, defended, and explored.  

After the summary, student book reports should present detailed analysis sections.  In a college-level book report, this should be the longest and most developed component.  In the analysis, the writer should discuss how well the book accomplished its aims within its genre.  For instance, a report of a fiction book should discuss how well the author developed the plot, the characters, and the themes of the book.  It should also examine elements of the book's style to assess how the writer writes and how well.  The analysis of a non-fiction book should assess the quality of the author's thesis and its defense.  This should be done through a discussion of the type of evidence used, the type of research used, and the quality of inferences and conclusions drawn by the writer.  A non-fiction project should also assess the writer's style by discussing the clarity and quality of the writing.

Student book reports should typically close with the writer's determination of whether or not the book can be recommended and, if so, to whom.



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Viewpoint of Author #19
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A school book report is a relatively short composition that presents a summary and analysis of a single book.  School book reports are common assignments in primary and secondary education, and are also occasionally required in college courses, as well.  A school book report is different from a book review.  Book reviews are more focused on analysis than book reports, and book reviews almost never feature the use of the first-person voice ("I" and "me").  In most school book reports, it is appropriate for the student to write in first-person.

There are two primary types of school book reports: fiction book reports and non-fiction story critiques.  A fiction book report discusses a fictional text such as a novel or a collection of short stories.  A non-fiction book report will discuss a text that reports on actual events, such as a historical text, a memoir, or a how-to book.  Fiction and non-fiction book reports should be approached differently.

A school book report on a fictional text will have an introduction that identifies the book's author and title and provides a general idea of the style and topic of the book.  Next, the novel review will present a summary.  The summary of a fictional book should discuss the major characters of the book and the primary conflict between those characters, but should not reveal the ending of the book.  The summary should provide a good idea of the relationships between the characters, a detailed explanation of the time and place in which the book is set, and an overview of the major action of the book.  After the summary, the document should close with the writer's opinions on what audiences in particular may enjoy the book, the most positive and most negative aspects of the book, and whether or not he or she would recommend the book to others.

A school book report on a non-fiction text will also have an introduction, a summary, and an analysis section.  The introduction will indicate the title, author, and genre of the book.  The summary will discuss the major points of the text and how they are explained or defended.  This will require the writer to identify the theme(s) or thesis of the text and then examine the ways in which the theme(s) or thesis is explored.  After the summary, the novel review will present a detailed analysis section in which the writer assesses the quality of the book, its ideas, and its exploration of its theme or thesis.  This should be a text-based analysis, meaning that the writer should do this by providing detailed examples and quotations from the text.  The project should end with the writer's recommendations on whether or not others should read the book.



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Viewpoint of Author #20
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A common assignment for elementary school students is the basic book report.  An elementary book report not only requires that a child read a book, but the child will also have to summarize the book and discuss important ideas and facts covered by the author.

When a student has to write an elementary book report, the student should always begin the report by reading the book that was assigned.  Some teachers will assign just one book for students to read.  Other teachers will allow students to select their own books for their elementary story critiques.  If a pupil is allowed to select his or her own book, then the student should select a book that covers a topic that he or she enjoys so that the novel review will be more fun for the pupil.  

Next, after the student has read the book completely, the student should spend some time thinking about the purpose of the book.  The student should ask himself or herself questions about what he or she learned from the book, about what the author attempted to convey in the book, and what major themes were presented in the book.  An elementary project should encompass many different aspects of the book that were carried throughout the entire book.  

Students working on elementary book reports should always outline the draft of the story review before they begin writing the novel review itself.  An elementary project outline should help a learner to develop structure and content for the document.  Outlines are also easier to edit than an entire book report, so they tend to make the editing process simpler in the beginning.  

When students begin to draft their elementary book reports, they should always begin with an introduction into the background of the book.  Students should briefly summarize the entire book and explain what the novel review will focus on in terms of character development and theme.  Then, each body paragraph of the elementary project should provide new information or ideas that were presented in the book.  

An elementary book report is different from a literature review.  Generally, literature reviews require that students read and analyze a piece of literature.  They require a good bit of critical thinking, as well.  However, an elementary book report requires that students simply recap a book and provide a summary of key themes and ideas.  Therefore, elementary book reports are factual documents and literary reviews are based more on facts.

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