Writing a response to literature, or a book report, is an essential part of connecting reading and writing for upper elementary students. It allows them to reflect on what they have read and dig deep into important fiction skills. These can include:
- Identifying author’s purpose
- Writing a fiction summary
- Selecting key events
- Finding themes
- Analyzing characters
- Comparing characters
- Tracking character changes
- Analyzing author’s craft
- Writing a recommendation
- Reflecting on what they have learned from the story
- Making connections (text to self, text to text, text to world)
Book report writing also encourages students to articulate their opinions thoughtfully, using text evidence to back them up.
Book reports are so versatile, so there are tons of ways to keep them fun and fresh for your students.
Below are 8 book report ideas for different formats:
1. BACKPACK BOOK REPORT:
Backpack Book Reports are an engaging, hands-on twist on a classic book report! They are very easy to prep and make a great bulletin board display when completed. Each page focuses on an important element of book reports. These include:
- Story Map
- Describe the Setting
- Analyze a Character
- Compare Character Perspectives
- Key Events
- The Author’s Craft
- Back Up Opinions
- Time to Reflect
2. BOOK REPORT TAB BOOKS:
These tab books really bring novels to life! Students re-create the cover of their novel on the front of their book report. Then, each of the 10 tabs represent an important fiction reading response skill. The tabs include:
- Book Basics
- Story Map
- Character Analysis
- Compare & Contrast Characters
- Key Events
- Author’s Craft
They also come in full page option to maximize student writing space, or half page size to maximize wall space for a display.
3. BOOK REPORT LAP BOOK:
These lap books are great in that you can have students 1.) completely design their own lap books, or 2.) provide them with more structured directions.
- Lap Book Free-Writes: The teacher tells students what fiction elements they are responsible for reporting on, but does not tell them exactly how to present them. The teacher provides students tools like paper, envelopes, scissors, etc. and students can present the information however they would like.
- Structured Lab Book: With this option, the teacher can set clear expectations and provide a model for how to present each fiction element on their lap books.
4. DIGITAL BOOK REPORT:
A digital book report is a great option for a few reasons. First, it rids the teacher of paperwork. Next, students can access their book report from anywhere with no chance of misplacing their work. Lastly, many students thrive in using a digital tool for writing. It allows them to type and move around ideas freely without worrying about needing to handwrite drafts over and over.
5. BOOK REPORT TEMPLATES:
These book report templates are the same as the digital book report above, just in a printable PDF format. Students can fill in each template and staple them together with the included cover page. These are versatile in that if there’s a skill you haven’t yet covered, you can easily leave that page out until later into the school year and it won’t affect the finished book report product.
6. CEREAL BOX BOOK REPORT IDEAS:
Cereal boxes are a popular 3D way to have students present their book report since they are easily accessible for any student to get their hands on. Students cover their boxes with paper to create drawing and writing space.
The front of the box is transformed into a type of cereal that is fitting for the novel they read. For example, a student reporting on Carl Hiaasen’s “Hoot” might name their box “Hoot Loops”. Then, the back and sides of their box are filled with information on the book.
Similar to the lap book options described above, it is up to the teacher in how much structure they want to provide in this activity. Students can follow a model of how to present each element of fiction, or come up with their own ways to present each element on their box.
7. ONE PAGER:
Not every single book report we assign needs to take up tons of class time. A one-page book report option is an essential resource as it can be used as a quick, zero prep assessment tool. Although short, this type of report can still have students dig deep into reading comprehension.
On the one pager that is pictured, students still use many important fiction skills. These include genre, setting, theme, characters, plot (key events from the beginning, middle and end), overall opinion, recommendation, what they learned, and their rating.
8. PARAGRAPH WRITING WITH GUIDELINES:
If you are looking for a way to provide a lot of structure and clear expectations, you can give students a book report writing rubric for what their reports need to include from the very start. Students can also use graphic organizers that break down necessary points to include according to their rubric. Using a graphic organizer for prewriting is a great support for students in organizing their ideas before jumping into their drafts.
No matter what book report format you go with, it is important that students know and understand what is expected of their writing content. Displaying a Book Report Bulletin Board is such a helpful way to provide students with steps to writing a book report as well as terms they will come across in their templates.
If you are looking for book report ideas for your students, check out the resources below:
Looking for more fiction reading response ideas that focuses on one skill at a time? Check out this blog post: Engaging and Meaningful Fiction Reading Response for Elementary Students