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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

Summary:

This resource discusses book reports and how to write them.

Contributors:Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2011-11-09 09:09:39

Book reports are informative reports that discuss a book from an objective stance. They are similar to book reviews but focus more on a summary of the work than an evaluation of it. Book reports commonly describe what happens in a work; their focus is primarily on giving an account of the major plot, characters, thesis, and/or main idea of the work. Most often, book reports are a K-12 assignment and range from 250 to 500 words.

Book reviews are most often a college assignment, but they also appear in many professional works: magazines, newspapers, and academic journals. If you are looking to write a book review instead of a book report, please see the OWL resource, Writing a Book Review.

Before You Read

Before you begin to read, consider what types of things you will need to write your book report. First, you will need to get some basic information from the book:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher location, name of publisher, year published
  • Number of Pages

You can either begin your report with some sort of citation, or you can incorporate some of these items into the report itself.

Next, try to answer the following questions to get you started thinking about the book:

  • Author: Who is the author? Have you read any other works by this author?
  • Genre: What type of book is this: fiction, nonfiction, biography, etc.? What types of people would like to read this kind of book? Do you typically read these kinds of books? Do you like them?
  • Title: What does the title do for you? Does it spark your interest? Does it fit well with the text of the book?
  • Pictures/Book Jacket/Cover/Printing: What does the book jacket or book cover say? Is it accurate? Were you excited to read this book because of it? Are there pictures? What kinds are there? Are they interesting?

As You Read

While reading a work of fiction, keep track of the major characters. You can also do the same with biographies. When reading nonfiction works, however, look for the main ideas and be ready to talk about them.

  • Characters: Who are the main characters? What happens to them? Did you like them? Were there good and bad characters?
  • Main Ideas: What is the main idea of the book? What happens? What did you learn that you did not know before?
  • Quotes: What parts did you like best? Are there parts that you could quote to make your report more enjoyable?

When You Are Ready to Write

Announce the book and author. Then, summarize what you have learned from the book. Explain what happens in the book, and discuss the elements you liked, did not like, would have changed, or if you would recommend this book to others and why. Consider the following items as well:

  • Principles/characters: What elements did you like best? Which characters did you like best and why? How does the author unfold the story or the main idea of the book?
  • Organize: Make sure that most of your paper summarizes the work. Then you may analyze the characters or themes of the work.
  • Your Evaluation: Choose one or a few points to discuss about the book. What worked well for you? How does this work compare with others by the same author or other books in the same genre? What major themes, motifs, or terms does the book introduce, and how effective are they? Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?
  • Recommend: Would you recommend this book to others? Why? What would you tell them before they read it? What would you talk about after you read it?

Revising/Final Copy

Do a quick double check of your paper:

  • Double-check the spelling of the author name(s), character names, special terms, and publisher.
  • Check the punctuation and grammar slowly.
  • Make sure you provide enough summary so that your reader or instructor can tell you read the book.
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  • Consider adding some interesting quotes from the reading.

Page 2

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These OWL resources will help you with the writing process: pre-writing (invention), developing research questions and outlines, composing thesis statements, and proofreading. While the writing process may be different for each person and for each particular assignment, the resources contained in this section follow the general work flow of pre-writing, organizing, and revising. For resources and examples on specific types of writing assignments, please go to our Common Writing Assignments area.

Academic Writing

These OWL resources will help you with the types of writing you may encounter while in college. The OWL resources range from rhetorical approaches for writing, to document organization, to sentence level work, such as clarity. For specific examples of writing assignments, please see our Common Writing Assignments area.

Common Writing Assignments

These OWL resources will help you understand and complete specific types of writing assignments, such as annotated bibliographies, book reports, and research papers. This section also includes resources on writing academic proposals for conference presentations, journal articles, and books.

Mechanics

These OWL resources will help you with sentence level organization and style. This area includes resources on writing issues, such as active and passive voice, parallel sentence structure, parts of speech, and transitions.

Exercises relating to spelling can be found here. 

Exercises relating to numbering can be found here. 

Exercises relating to sentence structure can be found here.

Exercises relating to sentence style can be found here.

Grammar

These OWL resources will help you use correct grammar in your writing. This area includes resources on grammar topics, such as count and noncount nouns, articles (a versus an), subject-verb agreement, and prepositions.

Grammar-related exercises can be found here.

Punctuation

These OWL resources will help you with punctuation, such as using commas, quotation marks, apostrophes, and hyphens.

Visual Rhetoric

These OWL resources will help you understand and work with rhetorical theories regarding visual and graphical displays of information. This area includes resources on analyzing and producing visual rhetoric, working with colors, and designing effective slide presentations.

Undergraduate Applications

The undergraduate application section contains resources to help you through the process of applying to undergraduate institutions. This section contains an overview of applying to undergraduate institutions, words of advice from undergraduate admissions officials from all over the US, and information on writing effective application essays. 

Graduate School Applications

The graduate school application section contains resources to help you through the process of applying to graduate school. This section contains an overview of applying to graduate school, words of advice on writing graduate school profiles to help with your decision making, drafting a graduate school personal statement, and the etiquette of requesting references. 

Please note, that these resources focus on applying to graduate studies programs in the United States. The information contained in these resources may or may not be appropriate to other contexts. 

Personal Correspondence

The resources in this section are dedicated to written personal correspondence. This section discusses personal letter writing and newsletter writing. 

Community Engaged Writing

This section includes resources on community engagement as it relates to writing assignments.

Media File Index

The resources in this section contain links to all the media files found on the Purdue OWL. In this section, you can click on links that will take you to a resource where you can view or download a PowerPoint presentation or workshop, sample paper, sample employment document, vidcast, podcast, or Flash movie.

General Writing FAQs

The following FAQs address various general issues concerning writing. The entries in this section are based on frequently asked questions about writing that have been sent to our former team of Purdue OWL Mail Tutors. You should also scan the General Writing section of the Purdue OWL for answers to your questions.

Writing Center Directory

Can't find what you're looking for on the OWL? Want some one-on-one help with your writing? Do you prefer talking to a live human instead of reading text on your computer? Check out the Writing Center Directory to find a Writing Center near you! It contains information about Writing Centers all over the world.


Category: Writing

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