A book report is a basic literary assignment generally given to students in elementary and middle school grades that is meant to exhibit their understanding of a text. Unlike essays that focus on a specific aspect of the work, book reports offer summaries of plot, themes and characters. While detailed requirements regarding what must be included in a book report vary based on the instructor, all book reports tend to have a consistent structure that provides basic information about the text and the reader's interpretation.
The first part of a book report is the introductory paragraph. In this section, the reader includes information about the book's title, author, publication details and a very brief overview of the plot. Pertinent information about the author's history or life circumstance may also be mentioned in the introduction if it relates to plot or messages of the book. A note regarding the book's popularity and circulation can also be added into the introduction to provide a more robust context for the story. The reader should also include a brief statement regarding their reactions to the text or presence of any persistent themes.
Summary of the Text
The paragraph following the introduction should be an overview of the book's plot. This description will include information on the important characters, the story's physical location and time period and the basic plot movements. It is also important to include details pertaining to the narrator of the story or the point of view from which the story is told. The overview of the book should not contain opinions, analysis of themes or any other inferred information. If the book is a nonfiction work, then a broad dissection of the book's purpose, argument and conclusions will suffice.
After a summary of the book has been established, the reader may proceed to expound on any salient themes, symbols, analogies or exterior references found in the text. Analysis on the author's overall purpose can also be included in this section. When considering these points, the reader may include educated opinions as to whether or not the author achieved their goals or successfully carried themes by reference specific aspects of the text, such as language, grammatical use and character structure. Depending on the number of points the reader wishes to examine, the analysis section may last for several paragraphs.
Before concluding the book report, the reader may want to personally react to the book. In this paragraph, the reader has the right to comment on the book's qualities, themes and plot without needing to provide textual evidence. Depending on the regulations of the instructor, this section may be written in the first person or in the subjective third person. Some common points that may be covered in the personal reaction section include whether the reader would recommend the book to others or if they liked the book.
All book reports should end with a short concluding paragraph that summarizes the points made in the analytical and personal reaction sections. The concluding paragraph should weave the objective and subjective opinions together to create the ultimate judgment on the piece, the author's motivations or the actions of the characters. The inclusion of a poignant quotation from the text is often inserted in the concluding paragraph, as well.