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Paper Bag Book Report

Teacher Lesson


  • Language Arts
  • Literature
  • Reading


  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 8

Brief Description

In a unique community service project, students write book reports on grocery bags and stores promote community literacy by bagging customers groceries in the students paper bag book reports.


Students will

  • read authentic pieces of children's and young adult (YA) literature.
  • write descriptive summaries of the books they read -- up to the cliffhanger.
  • participate in their communities by promoting reading through their book reports.


summary, summarize, book, report, cliffhanger, climax, community service, literacy

Materials Needed

  • brown paper bags from local grocery store
  • pens or pencils
  • art supplies

Lesson Plan

Go to your local grocery store and ask for brown paper bags. Explain that students will be writing and illustrating book reports on the bags and, when the book reports are complete, the bags will be returned to the store.

Explain the project to students and then take them to the library to select a book to read. When they finish reading, have each student

  • illustrate on the top half of the bag an event in the story he or she read. Emphasize that the illustration must be colorful enough to stand out against the brown paper bag.
  • write the title of the book and its author in the middle section of the bag.
  • write a summary of the book in the bottom section of the bag. (A classmate or teacher should edit a draft of the summary before the final copy is written on the bag.) Make sure the summary is informative, not just wordy. The summary should not give away the ending of the book; it should leave the reader wanting to read more!

Before writing the final summary on the bag, encourage students to use a pencil and ruler to lightly mark lines on the bottom half of the bag. The summary will look neater if written on straight lines.

Invite students to sign the paper bag books with their first names, teacher's name, and school address. That way, grocery store customers can write to the students. Students enjoy getting notes back from the people who happen to get their bags.

This is a community project to promote literacy. Advertise the project to let the public know what your class will be doing and why.


At the beginning of the project, provide students with a rubric detailing what is expected in order to achieve an "A." Deduct points for each item not carried out according to project specifications.

Submitted By

Linda Bray, Alcorn Central Elementary School in Glen, Mississippi

Originally published 11/21/2002
Last updated 10/31/2007

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