Creative Book Reports Make Reading Fun
Giving students a variety of options for reporting on chapter books is simple to do.
By Karen Ganzel
Students often feel hesitant to read chapter books because they feel intimidated by the size of the works. There are ways, however, to inspire children to read more challenging texts. An easy way to do this is to assign book reports of a less traditional kind. Teachers can allow students to choose their project, or assign them a project based on specific ability levels or areas of interest. Another option is to break the assignment into segments. You could divide a book into three or four sections, and have students complete one or two tasks per section. Here are some more ideas for book report projects that break from the traditional style.
Book in a Bag: Students create some sort of bag (or box) to contain items relevant to a particular book. Students could include items that describe the characters, and/or choose other items that represent any literary element from the story, including the setting, plot, or situations from the conflict/problem in the story. The bag should be decorated to represent the setting of the story. Students then give an oral presentation to the class explaining why they chose those specific items for their bag or box.
Song/Rap/Movie: Students interested in music or drama rarely get an opportunity to do these activities at school. I have received excellent work from students who wrote and performed songs, raps, and movies based on a book they had read. They performed their song or rap live, or recorded it at home and played it in class. I’ve had students involve the entire family by having them play accompanying instruments on their recording! If your students want to make a movie, they can film it at home and bring a DVD in to class to present to everyone. You can require that certain concepts from the book be discussed, shown, or included in their recordings or movie.
Alternate Ending: A product that will appeal to your linguistic/verbal students is to write an alternate ending to a story. The alternate ending can be the last chapter, last page, or last paragraph of the story.
Write Your Own Test: Another good way to assess student understanding of the novel is to have them design their own test. The teacher can chose the question types and require a certain number of each. Students also make an answer key for their test. Teachers can give students question-stems from Bloom’s Taxonomy or Marzano to help them write higher-level questions.
Body Biography: Students form groups of three or four. Using bulletin board paper, students trace a “body outline” of one of the group members on the paper. Students then create the character in the tracing. Students create the setting in the background and use the arms, feet, legs, mouth, hands and head to write corresponding quotes from the book that symbolize or explain what the character does with each body part. These creations make wonderful hallway displays!
Integrating Poetry: If you have already done a poetry unit prior to assigning a report, let students chose a few different types of poetry to create a book. Students can write rhyming poems, haikus, limericks, found poems, concrete poems, or narrative poems. Illustrations can accompany the poetry and be made into a book. Students can volunteer to read their poems aloud to the class, or simply turn them in for teacher assessment. Below are some more specific lessons and activities that can nicely complement any book.
Book Report Lesson Plans:
Students select items to present in a museum-type display for the class that are based on a book they have read. Every report is unique - even if students have read the same book! Students set up their displays throughout the room. Students rotate around the room listening to each "guide" along the way. An excellent lesson idea!
This lesson has students reflect on the books they read with classmates, and select a dynamic scene, colorful setting, or appealing character to illustrate in a visual book report. Afterwards, they design compelling scenes on library windows to entice others to read the books.
In this book report lesson plan, students cover the outer parts of a cereal box representing a book they read. They create an original cover on one side, and use the other side to report on the setting, characters, problem, solution, theme, and anything else they want to include.
Upper grade students are paired with lower grade students to read a book together. This link provides a variety of activities the pair can complete together based on the book they read.