Sunday, 23 December 2012

Good Book Report Writing: A Challenge for Many students

Although the ability to write a good book report may be an essential skill for succeeding in English classes, it can pose a challenge for many students. However, students can greatly improve their report writing skill by following some straightforward guidelines.

Know your material

Read the entire book and take notes of important points or significant quotations while reading. Each student will have their own favourite note taking method. Some prefer placing sticky notes on relevant pages, or writing in the margins of the book, while other will write summaries of relevant passages in a notebook or on file cards.

Choose a topic or approach

Once you have finished reading the book, consider whether you considered it to be well or poorly written, and whether or not you enjoyed reading it. However, remember that a book summary is not a book review. Book reviews are primarily an expression of personal opinion. On the other hand, a book report is an exercise in academic writing. It focusses primarily on a summary and analysis of a book, and relies on the presentation of facts, or on close reading and interpretation of literature. Please follow "Quality, Custom and Concise Book Report Writing" to read more on the topic.

For a work of fiction, consider the genre, the plot, and the theme or themes which you see in the work. To analyze the theme, ask questions such as:

  • Does the author have a message for the reader?
  • Is the author interested in social issues?
  • Is the author raising questions or providing answers to any “big questions” about life?

An analysis of the main characters and their relationship to the plot and theme, and any symbols used in the work may provide answers to these questions.

For a non-fiction work, identify the writer’s thesis, and examine the arguments the author presents in support of this thesis to determine whether they are accurate and well presented. In addition, examine the writing style to determine if it was written in a particular tone, and whether the author exhibited an obvious bias.
Now, examine the assignment guidelines for the book report provided by the teacher, and review your notes in light of the opinions you have formed to choose a unique approach to the material presented in the book. You may either take a general approach or focus on one particular aspect of the book.

Do your research

The use of additional resources such as scholarly articles can add credibility to a book report. However, all research must be carried out carefully. Resources must be both reputable and properly cited.
On-line sources should be used with care. While Wikipedia is a good starting point, relying solely on this source indicates that the student has made only a minimal effort to conduct research. SparkNotes and Cliffs Notes can both be effective research aids, but should not be used as a replacement for a thorough reading of the source material.

Plagiarism, using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging their source, is regarding as academic theft, and at the college and university level may be punished with a failing grade or even expulsion. To avoid accusations of plagiarism, accurate citation of information sources and quotations is absolutely essential. Citations may be placed within the text, in footnotes, or at the end of the text. College and university students should consult the style sheet recommended by their professor or lecturer for the appropriate form to use for citations.   Content and structure  
Before beginning the actual writing of the book report, it is a good idea to write a brief outline.
As with most writing, a book report consists of three sections, the introduction, the body and the conclusion.
Before writing the introduction, identify your thesis or central argument. What approach will you take to the book report? Will you take a general approach, or will you examine a specific aspect of the book, such as the characters in a work of fiction, or the validity of the author’s arguments in a work of non-fiction?
The introduction should begin with a strong first sentence which immediately engages the reader’s attention, and include the book title, author’s name and topic, genre and theme, and the author’s point of view. You should also identify your unique approach to the book in a clear thesis statement.
The body of your report should examine the book in more detail by providing a summary of the content of the book. For fiction, this will include a plot summary and additional information such as descriptions of the main characters and themes. For non-fiction, this will include a detailed outline of the author’s thesis and supporting arguments.
As you write the body of the book report, you can provide the reader with some indications of your opinions as you lead to your final paragraph.

The concluding paragraph should summarize the body of the essay and express subjective opinions based on the evidence you have presented. For fiction, these could include such things as whether the plot and characterization were convincing, or the deeper implications of the themes presented in the work. For non-fiction, you should critique the author’s arguments and determine whether the thesis was convincingly supported by the evidence provided.

Finally, say why you would or would not recommend this book.

Writing a book report is a form of academic writing. It requires both knowledge of the subject matter and attention to detail. It is therefore an integral part not only of English classes but of the whole learning process.

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