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Good Book Report Writing 101: Step Zero

You know how occasionally you’ll ask a friend, or maybe a teacher, for a little advice on something, and the first thing they say is so blindingly obvious that you wonder if they’re making a joke? That’s what’s about to happen now. Disclaimer: you’d be amazed at how many people think they can skip this step and still produce a quality book report. Are you ready? Sure?

If you’re going to write a great book report – or even a good one – then you have to actually read the book!

Sometimes the volume of a book can be daunting, or the language a little intimidating; in fact, small front size alone can be enough to have students looking up sparknotes within minutes. Don’t do it. Now that it’s agreed you’ll read the book, let’s take a look at actually writing your report!

Structure and Planning

No matter how much you love or understand a book, a report without a pre-determined structure will not work. Passion and good English will make it interesting, but the flow will be meandering and undirected. An example of the kind of content you’ll want to include would be:

  • Introduction
  • Summary of the book
  • Setting description
  • Character analysis
  • Plot Summary
  • Central or relevant themes
  • Conclusion and personal thoughts

Let’s take a look at a couple of the most important aspects in a little more detail.

Plot Summary

This isn’t a brief recounting of the story, but rather a subjective response to the plot details. Rather than “it’s about a girl who lives in a shoe”, you should be thinking “the book is fascinating as it makes you wonder what living would really be as such a small person”, or something along those lines. Make it engaging, make it personal. As with all aspects of a book report, use plenty of direct quotes to cement your argument or support opinion.

Character Analysis

When it comes to character analysis, there are virtually no limits. You can look at the minutest detail – like the color of their shoelaces or the way they’ve styled their hair – and attempt to quantify why it’s important, and what it means. Any author worth their salt will avoid creating flawless characters; can you identify the flaws in the main characters in your book? Does it affect the plot or the lives of others?

If you zero in on a specific character, make sure to comment on their role with regards to furthering the plot as a whole. What would their absence mean for the book? If you removed that earlier flaw, would things have turned out differently? Layered characters are fundamental to a good story, so you should definitely include their analysis in your book report.


This is probably the subtlest aspect of your book report. Themes can be difficult to pin down and harder still to quantify with quotes, which is why you do need to read the book. Explicitly state what theme you are analyzing and remember to put in as much supporting evidence as you can find. A good system can be to include a quote, then discuss it in depth before moving onto the next.

Writing Style and Conclusions

Your writing style should be academic, without being excessively sesquipedalian. You see why? Remember to paragraph regularly and always use headings when moving to a new section. Your conclusion should simply bring everything together. You’ve made all your intellectual insights in the main body of the report, so this is the time to reiterate your common conclusions and directly answer whatever initial question was posed by your teacher. When broken down, creating a good book report is pretty simple; find a story you enjoy and you might even find yourself having fun!