Book reports get a bad reputation which I think is unfounded. Book reports are a wonderful way to integrate writing into your curriculum, especially if the book is historical fiction. You can also think of a book report as baby steps towards literary analysis which will certainly be required of your students in high school and in college.
Bud, Not Buddy is a recent read aloud in our study of the Great Depression. (It is not on the Winter Promise list; I added it in.) I thought that since it was such a great novel, since it tied in so well to our history lessons, and since we both enjoyed it together, it would be a perfect choice for Sprite’s first official book report.
At the recommendation of Kris, I downloaded the Weekly Reader title Writing a Great Book Report from Currclick. It was well worth the $5 I spent. (Although I love physical books, it’s so convenient to download today and use tomorrow. I also like that I can reprint another copy of the pages for use a second or third time.)
It turned out to be a great step by step introduction to the elements of fiction — character, setting, and plot only –and a guide for writing a book report. Sprite really enjoyed working through the pages as she made notes about her novel.
[Maybe it’s because we use so few worksheets that when I give her something like this she thinks it is quite enjoyable. Or maybe it’s her love of writing in general. I can’t explain it.]
The workbook gives the student a chance to prewrite about the characters and later write full sentences or paragraphs about them. The same is true for plot and then a personal evaluation of the book. Once the workbook is completed, you simply merge the paragraphs together to form an essay. Sprite typed up her draft and I worked with her to make edits. The revisions were a breeze to make in electronic format, and she agreed that the time invested in typing it was worth it in the long run.
Then we worked through some of the elements of fiction more formally with Sprite making a minibook of cards on a metal ring. I used our Write Source 2000 as a reference in teaching her these terms.
I made some elements of fiction printables to share with you. There is a poster file and a banners file as individual downloads, but the SET is the whole kit and caboodle with notebooking pages, notetaking pages, minibooks or flashcards, as well as both the poster and the banners. These are in A4 paper format. (I’m sorry to my American friends using 8 1/2 by 11 paper, but I made these for our own use and have shared them here for you too. We use A4 paper in China. It’s taller and skinnier than your paper. But you can still print them on your shorter, fatter paper. The margins may simply be a little strange.)
I’ve already given her a second book report project assignment that includes more artistically creative options. It should take about three weeks to complete, and I’ll be sure to share that online too.
Do you use book reports with your children? At what age did you start? (Remember that Sprite is finishing 5th grade.)