42How to Write a Great Book Report

By Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

TREASURE ISLAND

A Graded Reader

One of the most common homework assignments at NIC is the Book Report. This is usually done every week in most NIC classes. Each week students are given a new book, and they have about one week to read it and write a report.

Purpose: There are 4 reasons to do book reports

  1. to encourage students to read more
  2. to help student increase vocabulary of common words
  3. to teach student how to summarize stories
  4. to help students learn how to give their opinions about stories

At NIC, teachers usually use the Oxford Bookworm Library books or the Penguin Readers series. These are also called Graded Readers. They usually have 50-70 pages. You can find these books at most large bookstores for less than 1,000 yen. There are hundreds of titles and many levels to choose from.

Terms
When doing book reports there is some vocabulary that you should know:

  1. Author & title: Author means who wrote the book, and the title is the name of the book.
    It is important to include both of these in your book report.
  2. Setting: This means time and place.
    For example, does the book take place in the past, modern time, or future? Does it take place in London, Los Angeles, or Rome?
  3. Character: These are the people in the story.
    Teachers usually want students to focus on the main characters (not every character)
  4. Conflict: This means “the main problem.”
    Some teachers will ask you, “What is the conflict of the story?” In other words, they want to know what is the main problem.
  5. Plot: This means what happened in the story.
    This includes all of the main events that happen in the story.
  6. Climax: This is the high or exciting point in the story.
    This is usually near the end of the story.
  7. The ending: This is how the story ends after the climax.
    Of course, it’s important to tell how everything ends in the story.
  8. Your opinion: The opinion section is simply your ideas about the story.
    After writing about the climax and about how the story ends, teachers usually like for students to give their opinions.

Now some teachers will ask you to fill out a form and answer these questions. Others will ask you to combine these parts to make a report. Take a look at a sample book report. It includes all of these parts.

Sample

Akiko Miyata
RWD
November ??, 2007

A Strong Family

I read Daniel Steineck’s The Cherries of Wrath, and I learned about the importance of family. The setting of the story takes place in 1930 on a small farm in Tennessee. There are many important characters in the story. Blanche is the brave mother, who is the main character of the story. She has an adult son named Ted, who lives there with his wife Susie. The main conflict in the story is that the family loses the farm, and they have to think of a way to get it back. In the plot, the father, who died years ago, left them a nice home. However, the son forgets to pay taxes on it, and he has to sell it back to the bank. After he sells it to the bank, he and the family are very sad. He thinks of a way to get it back though. The climax happens when the son actually breaks into the bank at night and steals the contract that he had signed. Ted is almost caught by the police, but he jumps out of a window and runs back home. In the end, the bank realizes that it has lost the contract for the house with his signature on it. Therefore, they don’t own the house anymore. It has to be returned to the family. At last, the house belongs to them again, and everyone is happy. In my opinion, I felt I didn’t like how Ted got the house back. He did a crime to get the house again. I don’t think this is a good way to do this. But they are happy in the end, so I am happy, too. I liked this book, but it was difficult to read sometimes.

As you can see, all of the terms from above are in this sample book reports. These count as a big part of your grade at NIC, so it’s good to buy some of these Graded Readers and get some practice writing some before you come to NIC. If you buy some and want to practice writing a book report, come to one of the Demo Lessons and give your paper to the staff. I will grade it for you and mail it back to you.

Good luck!