I remember, as a student myself, and then later as a young teacher, how much I dreaded book reports. As the “reportee”, the task always felt like letting the air out of a brightly colored balloon – taking some charming story or fascinating nonfiction book and watering it down it into a boring, didactic account that was supposed to capture the essence of the book. And, the only thing worse than writing one was reading one – well, no, that’s not true. What I remember as being the most dreaded part of the process was having to slog through an entire classroom set of book reports. Most ended with: if you want to find out more, read the book! Exactly…reading the book was, hands-down, a much more satisfying, educationally sound experience.
These days, with the advent of “close reading” and with the emphasis on deconstructing text through authors’ eyes, the “book report” becomes a much more thoughtful, analytical writing activity (often referred to as a literary analysis task). In fact, this approach encourages students to have a deeper, richer experience of what they’ve read through higher level critical thinking and the opportunity to connect with the text in multiple ways. Setting the stage for reading with a series of inferential and evaluative questions helps students to read more deeply, to explore point of view, theme, plot, purpose, and author’s craft. It allows them to go so much further than “whether they liked the book or not, and why.”
You might decide to make a weekly “book report” a part of your ongoing literacy block – but, a book report with a much more literary twist. You can make the downloadable lesson here your own, by applying the questions and strategies to whatever your students are reading. If you want o find out more, download the attachment.