Barbara P
Barbara P

Book Report Writing Guide - Outline, Format, & Topics

15 min read

Published on: Jul 16, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 1, 2023

Book Report Writing

Writing a book report can be a challenging task for students at all levels of education. Many struggle to strike the right balance between providing a concise summary and offering insightful analysis.

The pressure to submit a well-structured report often leaves students feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about where to begin. Unlike a book review that is longer and more detailed, the purpose of writing a book report is to summarize what happened in the story. 

In this blog, we will learn the book report writing, providing you with step-by-step instructions and creative ideas. Whether you're a reader or just starting your literary journey, this guide will help you write book reports that shine. 

So, let's dive in!

On This Page

What is a Book Report?

A book report is a written summary and analysis of a book's content, designed to provide readers with insights into the book's key elements. It's a valuable exercise for students, offering a chance to look deeper into a book's characters, and overall impact.

Why are book reports important?
They serve as a way to not only showcase your reading comprehension but also your critical thinking skills. They help you reflect on the book's strengths and weaknesses, and they can be a great tool to start a discussion.

How to Write a Book Report Outline?

Before you start writing a book report, it's crucial to create a well-organized outline. A book report outline serves as the roadmap for your report, ensuring that you cover all essential aspects. Here's how to create an effective book report outline:

Introduction

  • Hook: Begin with an engaging opening sentence to capture the reader's attention.
  • Book Information: Provide basic details about the book, including the title, author, and publication date.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state your main argument or perspective on the book.

Summary

Plot Overview: Briefly summarize the book's plot, focusing on the main events, conflicts, and resolution.
Character Introduction: Introduce the main characters and their roles in the story.
Setting: Describe the book's setting and its significance to the plot.

Analysis

Themes

  • Identify and discuss the major themes or ideas explored in the book.
  • Provide evidence from the text to support your analysis.

Characters

  • Do your character analysis, traits, motivations, and development throughout the story.
  • Use specific incidents or quotes to illustrate your points.

Writing Style

  • Evaluate the author's writing style, considering elements like tone, language, and narrative techniques.
  • Explain how the writing style contributes to the book's overall impact.

Conclusion

  • Summarize the key points of your analysis.
  • Restate your thesis and its relevance to the book.
  • Leave the reader with a final thought or reflection on the book's significance.

Personal Evaluation

  • Share your personal opinions and feelings about the book.
  • Discuss what you liked or disliked and why.
  • Mention any personal connections or insights you gained.

Recommendations

  • Offer recommendations based on your assessment.
  • Suggest who might enjoy reading the book and why.
  • Compare the book to others in the same genre if applicable.

Bibliography

  • List all the sources you used, including the book itself and any external references.
  • Follow the citation style specified by your instructor or institution.

How to Write a Book Report?

Writing an effective book report is not just about summarizing a story; it's a chance to showcase your analytical skills.

Let’s go through the process of creating a compelling book report that will impress your instructor.

How to Start a Book Report

To start a book report follow the steps below:

  1. Pick the Perfect Book 
    Selecting the right book for your report is the first crucial step. If you have the freedom to choose, opt for a book that aligns with your interests. Engaging with a book you're passionate about makes the entire process more enjoyable.
  2. Dive into the Pages
    Reading the book thoroughly is non-negotiable. While summaries and online resources can be helpful, they can't replace the depth of understanding gained from reading the actual text. Take notes as you read to capture key moments and insights.
  3. Document Key Insights
    Keeping a physical notebook for jotting down important points and insights is a tried-and-true method. This tangible record allows for quick reference when you're ready to write your report.
  4. Collect Powerful Quotes
    Quotes from the book can be the secret sauce that adds weight to your report. Choose quotes that align with your report's themes and ideas. These quotes will serve as evidence to support your analysis and perspective.
  5. Craft Your Report Outline
    An book report outline serves as your roadmap for creating a structured and coherent report. Ensure it includes all the vital elements, from basic book information to your in-depth analysis. An organized outline keeps your writing on track.

Writing Your Book Report

Now that you've completed the preliminary steps, it's time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Follow these guidelines for an exceptional book report:

  • Introduction: Open with a captivating introduction that introduces the book, its author, and your main thesis. This initial "hook" draws readers in and sparks their interest.
  • Plot Summary: Concisely summarize the book's plot, including key events, main characters, and the overall narrative. Offer enough information for understanding without revealing major spoilers.
  • Analysis: The core of your report, where you dissect the book's themes, characters, writing style, and any symbolism. Back your insights with book quotes and examples, revealing the author's intentions and how they achieved them.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and share your overall evaluation of the book. End with a thought-provoking statement or recommendation to leave readers engaged and curious.

Book Report Formatting

When it comes to formatting a book report, simplicity and clarity are key. Here's a straightforward guide on the essential formatting elements:

Font and Spacing

  • Font: Use a standard and easily readable font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Size: Set the font size to 12 points.
  • Spacing: Double-space the entire report for readability.

Front Page/Title Page

  • Create a separate title page with the following information:
  • Title of the Book Report
  • Your Name
  • Date of Submission

Margins

  • Set one-inch margins on all sides of the document for a clean and professional appearance.

Page Numbers

  • Include page numbers in the top right corner of each page, starting from the second page (usually after the title page).

Heading and Subheadings

  • Use clear headings and subheadings to organize your report sections.
  • You can use bold or slightly larger font size for headings.

Alignment

  • Keep the text aligned to the left for a neat and organized look.

Citation Style

  • Follow a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA) as per your instructor's guidelines for citing sources and referencing the book.

Additional Requirements

  • If your instructor has specific formatting preferences (e.g., cover page design, page numbering style), be sure to adhere to them.

Book Report vs. Book Review - How Do they Differ from Each Other? 

The table below highlights how is a book report different from a book review:

Aspect

Book Report

Book Review

Purpose

To provide an objective summary of the book's content, focusing on its plot, characters, and setting.

To offer a subjective evaluation of the book's quality, discussing both its strengths and weaknesses.

Focus

Mainly on summarizing the book's key elements and events.

Primarily on the reviewer's personal opinions, analysis, and critique.

Personal Opinion

Typically, personal opinions are minimized or excluded.

Relies heavily on the reviewer's personal opinions and preferences.

Length

Generally longer, often structured with multiple sections.

Typically shorter, often concise and to the point.

Analysis Depth

Analyzes the book's content in terms of plot, characters, themes, etc.

Offers a critical analysis of the book's writing style, themes, and overall impact.

Audience

Typically written for educators or academic purposes.

Written for a general audience, including potential readers of the book.

What are the SImilarities between Book Report and Book Review?

Here are the things that are added in both a book report and a book review.

  • Bibliographic details
  • Background of the author
  • The recommended audience for the book
  • The main subject of the book or work
  • Summary of the work and the only difference is that in the review, a critical analysis is also added

Due to the similarities, many students think that both of these are the same. It is wrong and could cost you your grade.

How to Write a Nonfiction Book Report? 

Writing a nonfiction book report may seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, you can craft an informative report. Here's a streamlined guide:

  • Read Actively: Carefully read the chosen nonfiction book, highlighting key information. For instance, if you're reporting on a biography, mark significant life events and their impact.
  • Introduction: Begin with the author's name, the book's publication year, and why the author wrote the book. Create an engaging opening sentence, such as "In 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,' Rebecca Skloot delves into the fascinating world of medical ethics."
  • Focused Body: Structure the body into three paragraphs, each addressing crucial aspects. For instance, in a report on a science book, one paragraph could cover the book's key scientific discoveries.
  • Concluding Thoughts: Share your personal opinion, if applicable. Would you recommend the book? Mention reasons, like "I highly recommend 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari for its thought-provoking insights into human history."

Writing a nonfiction book report requires adhering to facts but can still be enjoyable with a strategic approach.

How to Write a Book Report without Reading the Book?

Short on time to read the entire book? Here are quick steps to create a book report:

  • Consult Summary Websites: Visit websites providing book summaries and analyses. For instance, SparkNotes or CliffsNotes offer concise overviews.
  • Focus on Key Details: Select 2-3 crucial aspects of the book, like major themes or character development. Discuss these in-depth.
  • Consider a Writing Service: Utilize professional writing services when time is tight. They can craft a well-structured report based on provided information.
  • Offer a Unique Perspective: Differentiate your report by approaching it from a unique angle. For example, explore a theme or character relationship that hasn't been extensively covered by peers.

While challenging, writing a book report without reading the book is possible with these strategies.

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Book Report Templates for Different Grades

Students studying at different levels have different skills and ability levels. Here is how they can write book reports for their respective academic levels.

How to Write a Book Report for an Elementary School?

The following are some book report templates that you can use for your primary or elementary school.

how to write a 3rd-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

how to write a 4th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

how to write a 5th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Write a Book Report for Middle School

Here are the book report worksheets that you can use to write your middle school book report.

how to write a 6th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

how to write a 7th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

how to write a 8th-grade book report - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Write a Book Report for High School?

Writing a high school book report includes the following steps:

  • Read the book thoroughly and with purpose.
  • Make an outline before writing the report as a pre-writing step.
  • Follow the guidelines and the given format to create the title page for your report.
  • Add basic details in the introduction of your book report.
  • Analyze the major and minor characters of the story and the role they play in the progress of the story.
  • Analyze the major and significant plot, events, and themes. Describe the story and arguments and focus on important details.
  • Conclude by adding a summary of the main elements, characters, symbols, and themes.

How to Write a Book Report for College Level?

Follow this college book report template to format and write your report effectively:

  • Understand the Assignment: Familiarize yourself with the assignment and book details to ensure proper adherence.
  • Read Thoroughly: Read the book attentively, noting essential details about the plot, characters, and themes.
  • Introduction: Craft an informative introduction with bibliographic details. 
For instance: "In 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler (1988), a detective novel, the narrative explores the corrosive effects of consumer culture on society."
  • Summary: Summarize key aspects like setting, events, atmosphere, narrative style, and the overall plot. 
Example: "Set in 1930s LA, a rain-soaked city, the story follows detective Philip Marlowe as he uncovers the dark secrets of the wealthy Sternwood family."
  • Plot: Cover the entire story, highlighting essential details, plot twists, and conflicts. 
For example: "Marlowe's involvement with the Sternwood family begins with an invitation to solve Vivian and Carmen's case. He discovers that Carmen is the culprit behind a family secret, while Vivian conceals her crime. An assassination attempt on Marlowe fails due to his clever anticipation."
  • Conclusion: Summarize the story and assess its strengths and weaknesses. Unlike a review, a book report provides a straightforward summary.

Book Report Examples

Before heading towards the writing process of your book report, let’s have a look at some of the book report examples.


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Book Report Ideas

Basic ideas include presenting your narrative and analysis in simple written form, while more creative ideas include a fun element.
Some notable books to choose from for your book report writing assignment are mentioned below:

  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
  • "1984" by George Orwell
  • "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
  • "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling
  • "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
  • "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Anne Frank
  • "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Expert Tip

Need more ideas? Check out our book report ideas blog to get inspiration!

To Sum it Up!
Crafting a good book report involves striking the right balance between introducing the book, summarizing its key themes, and avoiding spoilers. It's a delicate art, but with the right guidance you can grasp this skill effortlessly. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the parts of a book report?

A book report often contains different sections that describe the setting, main characters, and key themes of the story. A common type is an expository one which details what happened in detail or discusses how people feel about it.

Is a report a summary?

No, a summary is more detailed than a book report. A book report is usually based on a short summary of the book, while a standalone summary is more detailed and could have headings, subheadings, and supporting quotes.

How many paragraphs should be included in a book report?

The book report is a typical assignment in middle and high school, usually with one introduction, three body, and one conclusion paragraph.

The number of paragraphs could vary depending on the academic level, with an expert or professional book report having more than three body paragraphs.

How long is a book report?

It should not exceed two double-spaced pages, be between 600 and 800 words in length. Your book report is a written reflection on the content of a novel or work of nonfiction.

How do you end a book report?

Sum up your thesis statement and remind the readers of the important points, one final time. Do not add any new ideas or themes here and try to leave a lasting impression on the reader.

 
Barbara P

WRITTEN BY

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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