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Book report help

Book report help - getting it done on 5 pages

Apr 01, 2013 - Posted to  Book Report, Review Writing
Book reports are common assignments dished out to almost every middle or high schooler around (and can also work their way into college classrooms from time to time). They are very basic in their composition and usually include a summary of the book being discussed along with important details such as; key identifying information, the main plot or argument of the book, its characters, setting, and any other relevant details.
And unlike a book review, which focuses more on critically analyzing a book, the book report is more simplistic in that it is primarily a summarization or synthesization of the material. It also assumes that the reader has never read the book being reported on and would like a full account of its contents.

General book report length requirements

A book report may normally range between 300 and 500 words. And since 500 words generally comes out to about one page single spaced and maybe 1 1/2 to 2 pages double spaced, this traditional approach would not do very well for a five page minimum. So with a page requirement in mind, its best to designate certain sections for each page to ensure a good write up (without boring your reader with too much 'filler' or 'fluff' content).

A sample outline for a 5 page book report

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Summary of the book's contents
Page 3: Summary of the book's contents
Page 4: Discussion of specific elements of the book
Page 5: Conclusion & Recommendation
The above outline is definitely optional but provides a basic layout of a traditional book report. And obviously for a shorter page requirement somethings may be eliminated or shortened. But overall, the most important section-the summary-should be the primary focus of the book report.

Making 5 pages work for you

The great thing about the odd 5 page mark is that it makes it pretty easy to organize any paper; 1 page intro, 3 pages body, and 1 page conclusion. Which is exactly how you can design your book report. But how do you fill up 3 pages of body? This is a good question, and as mentioned earlier, book reports are pretty simplistic in nature as the majority of them function as a summary or overview of the book.
With that being said, its only a matter of how to properly proportion out your summary to allow it to comprise at least 2 full pages of text.

How to write a summary

To begin, if you've already read the book, then attempt to read it again (or skim it if time is tight) before writing your summary. Doing so will hopefully give you a fresh perspective of the events of the story and better allow for a comprehensive and efficient first draft. In addition to this primary step, others should also be considered.
  1. Create a brief outline of the books contents from what can be gathered from the table of contents as well as main and sub headings
  2. Read (or skim) the book with the intention of summarizing it (that is, pay attention to key details and main points)
  3. Take organized notes, with each falling under its appropriate heading or subheading; to allow for proper ordering of details
  4. Attempt to paraphrase the work in a first draft, being mindful of your page objective (*be sure to write out all information in your own words)
  5. Revise your draft to make sure that each section is addressed evenly and appropriately (that is, the most important section of the book or the climax of the story may receive more attention than the other sections; but areas of equal importance, such as supporting chapters, or the rising and falling action, should be given the same amount of space in your summary)
A note to be made here is that since your summary will ideally be 2 pages out of 5, remember to avoid repeating unnecessary information in your summary. The introduction portion of your paper should cover all the needed background information on the book as well as the author. Likewise, since your summary is not a 'stand-alone' document in this case, you can jump right into the first chapter of the book when drafting.

What about the other pages?

So now that you are sure about how to fill up the two main pages you may be wondering how you are going to get through the other three. Well since the introduction and conclusion are somewhat predictable, lets start off with the page to follow the summary; the one designated as a highlight or focus section.
In reality this section is actually an optional one, and if needed can simply be an extension of the summary. But if you feel that your summary has reached its end, or you have a special request from your teacher that asks for a bit of evaluative input, this section would definitely fit the bill.

Writing the highlight section

When working on a focus section this simply means that you intend to evaluate specific aspect(s) of the book. This can range from anything including themes or motifs, literary elements, characters, additional features and so on. Its best to chose something that stood out to you and made a significant impression or simply to consider your first reaction once you completed reading the book. Were you surprised, in awe, disappointed, touched, or offended?
For instance, if you were in awe after reading the book, exactly what lead to this? Perhaps it was the beautiful use of language the author displayed, or his or her connection to nature and so on. Secondly, you can also just as easily extract specific points from the book as mentioned before, without attributing it to any personal reactions you may have had.

The Introduction & Conclusion pages

Finally, the pages that have yet to be covered are the first and the fifth. We'll begin with the first one, the introduction.
If you've ever written any type of similar academic work than you should already be familiar with the contents of the introduction. But to be more specific, the following is a brief overview of what should be included in a book report introduction.

What to include in the introduction

  • Identifying information: The full title of the book, author, genre, publication information, and the number of pages.
  • Background information on the author: This includes other works published by him or her as well as their qualifications or expertise (if relevant to the subject of the book). You also may want to include some basic biographical information as well.
  • Purpose and main idea: In short explain the reason the author wrote the book, its main objective and key theme, or idea.
  • Background information on the subject if necessary (also historical context): If the topic of the book is not a common one, or generally unknown to some people, it may help to include some information to better help the reader understand the subject. Likewise significant historical information may also be included if the book, for instance, was written during a momentous time in history, or has some historical significance.

A few points on the conclusion

As mentioned earlier the conclusion can also entail your final recommendation of the book. Along with this (as with any conclusion), it can be utilized to restate the main points of your book report, as well as the main idea of the book. You also may want to reflect on specific points or just give an overall statement about the work. And finally your recommendation can act as the closing statement in which you briefly state whether or not you would recommend this work to others and why.
By Martha Buckly. Martha is a well-educated academic writer. Her experience help her guide others about book report writing.
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