Three years ago Education World celebrated Childrens Book Week by publishing Better Book Reports -- 25 Ideas!. Since that time, those book report ideas have logged tens of thousands of hits! So, in recognition of Childrens Book Week 2002, we are pleased to introduce the sequel to that popular article: "Better Book Reports -- 25 More Ideas.
We understand that sequels are not always as popular as their predecessors -- consider Caddyshack II or Look Whos Talking, Too -- but we're confident that you'll find many great ideas in this new release!
Students select one character from the book they're reporting on and then answer the following questions:
If you do not have a Venn diagram work sheet, students can use one of these sheets to complete the activity: Venn diagram work sheet 1, 2, or 3.
If your students are unfamiliar with the Venn diagram as a graphic organizer, or if they could benefit from a quick refresher course before using it in this activity, draw a sample Venn diagram on the chalkboard. Write the word "Dog under Circle A. Write the word "Cat under Circle B. Then ask students to list on chart paper some characteristics of dogs and/or cats. Discuss which characteristics are specific to each animal and which characteristics the two animals share. Write the characteristics specific to dogs in Circle A. Write the characteristics specific to cats in Circle B. Write those characteristics that both animals share (e.g, they make good pets, they have fur) in the area where the two circles connect.
For this character sketch comparison, students will write characteristics that apply only to the book character in Circle A and characteristics that apply only to themselves in Circle B. They will write characteristics that apply to both the character and themselves in the area where the two circles intersect.
Students create a mini book report. Provide each student with a sheet of drawing paper. (Younger students might use 11- x 17-inch paper; older students might prefer 8-1/2- x 11-inch paper.) Have students fold the drawing paper in half, then in half again. When they unfold the paper, they will have four boxes of equal size. Then ask students to cut the paper in half along one of the folds, slip one piece of the paper inside the other, and staple the fold to create an eight-page book. Decide in advance what should appear on each page of the students mini book reports. For example, you might assign the pages as follows:
Students search the book read for words and/or sentences that match the scavenger hunt criteria, which focuses on grammar and phonics skills. The following are examples of the kinds of words students might be looking for; the last few items on the list might require writing two sentences from the book:
Students play book report bingo. To encourage students to read books of different genres, create a simple bingo sheet. Have students read five books over two months that match the genres in any row or column on the bingo sheet. Following is a sample sheet:
Ready, Setting, Go!
Students use a Venn diagram (See Character Comparison activity above.) to compare the setting in a book with local settings (in your community). How are the two settings alike? different?
Now Youre Cooking!
Students appeal to their classmates stomachs by making an edible book report! They will locate a recipe for a food dish that plays a role in a book or one that represents the setting of the book. When they share the food with their classmates, students will explain how the dish relates to the book read.
Before-and-After Book Reports
Students write a brief report about what they think a book will be about -- based on the book's cover -- before they actually read it. After reading the book, students write a brief explanation of the book as it actually is. For additional details that flesh out this book report idea, see The Psychic Book Report.
Videotape Book Report
Students create a "commercial" for a book they read. Set up a video camera in the back of the classroom, provide brief instruction on how to use it (Post a sheet of simple instructions for reinforcement.), and have each child videotape himself or herself presenting a 30-second "commercial for the book read. In the first 30 seconds of the commercial, students should tell what is good about the book. The next 2 minutes will feature the student reading a favorite passage from the book -- a passage that might motivate others to want to read the book. You might make a few copies of the video and send it home with a different student each night so parents can view the children's work and gather ideas for books to give as gifts!
Reporting "Live from the Scene
Students write a script presenting one of the major events in a book as a real event. Have them create a simple background or use a local setting as the backdrop for a "Live at 11 news report. Student-reporters present their on-the-scene reports in front of the video camera.
Share a Book Report.
Students share book reports with students in the same grade in a neighboring school or school district. Pair up with another class in the community and encourage students to share book reports throughout the year. Plan to have students read some of the same books and some different ones. It would be nice if one or two of the book reports students shared during the course of the year were video book reports -- so students could get to know one another better. Better yet, arrange for a meeting of the students for the purpose of book sharing either as a culminating event at the end of the year, or both at the start and end of the school year.
Book Report Recipe
Students write a "recipe" for a good book. Provide students with a "recipe card format for their book reports. Each book report should include 1 cup of plot, 2 teaspoons of characters, 2 tablespoons of excitement, 1/2 cup of opinion See the complete Book Report Recipe lesson idea online at The Teachers Desk.
Birth Sign Book Report
Students explore characters and the signs of the Zodiac. Provide students with a simple explanation of some of the personality characteristics of the Zodiac/Horoscope Signs or the 12 animal birth signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Then have students select a character from the book read. As they read the character traits of the birth signs, they should consider under which sign the selected character was born. Their book report will explain why they came to that conclusion.
Five-Dollar-Words Book Report
Students learn about tools that can help them improve their writing and, therefore, make a more powerful statement about the book they just read. This activity combines the book report with an exercise using a dictionary or thesaurus. Students start by writing a paragraph to describe why they liked or did not like about the book read. Before they hand in the brief book critique, however, they take one final look to be sure they have used the best words to describe the book. Challenge students to use a dictionary or thesaurus to find in their critique five "50-cent words (small, unexpressive words) and replace those words with "5-dollar words (words that convey their thoughts more specifically, descriptively, or dramatically).
Students create a quiz to check their peers comprehension of a particular book. The quiz should include fill-in-the-blank, true or false, or multiple-choice questions. Correct the student-created quizzes and keep a file of the quizzes. Each time a student completes a book, he or she can take a quiz created by a peer!
Folded Book Reports.
Students create an accordion-folded book reports or quadraramas -- Not Your Same Old Book Report.
Mapping a Book
Students create a map highlighting places described in the story. Many of the maps features should be based on information provided by the books author. The map might show the immediate neighborhood or community in which the book takes place; if the author offers ample description of the home or another place as the central setting for the book, then the students maps might detail that place. In most cases, the completed maps will involve some conjecture on the part of the mapmaker. The student will explain his or her reasoning in writing or orally.
Students focus their attention on the authors descriptive writing talents and learn more about adjectives. The activity will drive home that good writing -- their own included -- benefits from excellent descriptions. Have students locate five or ten (depending on grade level) sentences in the book that include excellent adjectives/descriptions.
Once Upon a Timeline
Students create a timeline showing a chain of important events from a book read.
Students answer the question, Would you want to trade places with a character in the book? Explain that their essays must provide solid information supporting their responses to the question. The information they use will help demonstrate how closely they read the book.
Acrostic Poem Book Report
Students write acrostic poems demonstrating their understanding of the sequence of events in a book. See the lesson, Acrostic Book Report.
Teacher Marci McGowan shared the lesson plan above with Education World. McGowan received $50 for contributing her lesson to our Teacher-Submitted Lesson Plan archive. Go to the archive for more lessons as well as information about how you can earn money by sharing some of your favorite lessons!
Story Maps and Boxes
In another lesson from Education Worlds Teacher-Submitted Lessons archive, students use a story-mapping template to review parts of a story and information about a book they have read. They share their story boxes as an alternative to book reports. See Patricia Fry's complete Story Maps and Boxes lesson.
Students explore the value of the outline format book report and practice picking out the important details and characteristics of a book that might belong in an outline. Provide them with a work sheet based on the simple outline form below, or adapt the format by adding the elements you like to emphasize.
Book Title: ______________________________
I. Main Characters
II. Setting and Time Period
III. The Plot: A Timeline
IV. Best Parts of the Book
V. Criticism of the Book
VI. Overall Opinion of the Book (and Details to Support Your Opinion)
Books Reports Go Hi-Tech
Introduce technology as a tool for creating book reports. See the following book report lessons that make use of a variety of popular software products:
Big Books for Little Kids
Students in grades 4 and up work as a class or in small groups to retell a story for younger students in simple words and pictures. The students might examine a few of the big books that younger students have been exposed to and use them as models as they create their own big-book versions of stories worth telling. When the big books are completed, schedule a special event so the "authors can share their work with the young children!
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