menu

How to Write a Book Summary for Elementary School


A book summary can be used by teachers to determine if you have actually read the book. It can also be used to help them better understand your reading level and ability to comprehend simple and complex subject matter. Teachers have the final say in what should be included in a book summary but there are some elements that are standard.

Take notes while reading the book. Put sticky notes on the pages that you may want to refer back to later. Read sample book reviews online to see how other students have done them. "Scholastic Magazine" has sample reports and book reports written by students, writers and teachers.

Write the introduction. Underline the title. List the names of the authors of the book and the year it was published. Indicate what genre the book is in, such as adventure, fantasy, sci-fi or mystery. Explain why you chose the book, unless the book was chosen by the teacher.

Analyze the main idea of the story. Think of the main idea as the moral or message that the writer wants you to take away from the book. Express what you like or dislike about the main idea. The main idea could be courage in a difficult situation, love is colorblind, never give up or any number of themes.

Tell where and when the story takes place. Does it take place in the future, present or past? Does it take place in a big city, in the country or another planet?

Describe the plot briefly. Don't go into too much detail. Explain the main conflicts, what the conflict leads to and the resolution. Writer Mary Deal writes on her blog, "list the main points you've highlighted in order to show the flow of the plot or article topic and purpose."

Talk about the characters. List the main characters in the story and give a brief description of each. Explain their importance to the story. Characters help stories move along from beginning to conclusion. Illustrate how the main character's personality helped him overcome obstacles placed in his path.

Explain your opinion of the book. Mrs. Hauptmann, a librarian in the Arlington, Virginia school district suggests writing about the book's weaknesses, "Think about the plot, characterization and writing style. Was there something you didn't like?" Give examples to support your opinion. Refer back to some of the pages that you marked with sticky notes to help with this section.

Write a conclusion. Write a sentence or two to summarize your overall opinion of the book. State the purpose of the book or what the writer was trying to accomplish. If there was a lesson to be learned from the story, briefly state it in a sentence and why you agree or disagree with it.

About the Author

Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.

Photo Credits
  • writing book image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com