Seven Creative Book Report Ideas (D5)

from Idea Exchanges at NCTE Conventions

  1. Telegram Book Report (6th-9th grade)

(Ms. Iris Sweig, Rocco Laurie I.S. 72, 33 Ferndale Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314)

In a series of unusual book report assignments, one which is popular and different is the one written as a telegraph.

The class is assigned any science fiction book to read over a four week period. Students are then given a formal Western Union telegraph form which I have altered slightly. They must write their book report in 35 words or less, giving the basics of the story, an opinion and a recommendation. They can't go over the word limit, since the first fifteen words are billed at a flat rate, and each additional word is charged separately. No punctuation is needed, and simple phrases can be used. The word "STOP" stands for a pause and is not counted in the 35 word limit. 

Western Union Telegram

Author: Hugh Crowell

Title: Red Devil Flames

Date: 01-20-01

Filing Time: 5:00 p.m.

To: Mrs. Sweig

Address: Rocco Laurie I.S. 72

City, State , Zip: Staten Island, NY 10314

Name: Jamey Cutey

Class: 6-920 L


Fire in far off land STOP Natives afraid of flames STOP Never rains here STOP Suddenly big cloud covers country STOP Good book STOP Recommended for teenagers STOP 180 pages STOP



2. Book Report Placemat (JH/MS)

( Richard W. Halle, Marshfield Jr. High, Marshfield, WI 54449-4595)

  1. The "Book Talk" Sandwich/Delicatessen (Middle School)

(Nancy Stuart, Fuquay-Varina Middle, Fuquay-Varina, NC)

In my class, an oral book report is called a book talk. This was one book talk that all students, regardless of ability, participated in successfully.

The initial assignment told students to build a sandwich using components of a book report:

o       Bread-- introduction

o       Tomato--characters

o       Lettuce--setting

o       Cheese--plot

o       Meat--opinion of book

o       Bread--conclusion

When assembled, they could thumb through and have all the elements of a successful oral book report.

Students immediately asked if they had to use my patterns and if they could make other foods. I dragged in more colors of construction paper, and we wound up with a whole delicatessen of book reports. Everyone tried to outdo the other.

Celery characters floated in a tomato soup with setting crackers on the side. Mushroom characters made up a slice of pizza topped with cheese plot. There was a taco, and French fry characters in a plot box. We even had a whole Mac Meal, including soft drink with the book title on the straw.

I was able actually to watch students go from "How could I do this?" to drawing and planning. The fact that they had something to show during their talk seemed to make everyone at ease. The finished product made an eye-catching bulletin board. We could even set up a whole table.

This has made me realize how important it is for students, especially those reluctant to speak before groups, to have something to show in a book talk. It seems to relax them and make them less aware of all those eyes on them.

This lesson was brought to me by my student teacher, who picked it up in a methods class as a way to introduce elements of fiction. Neither of us anticipated how excited our students would be and what they would produce for us.

  1. English 1-H Fiction Book Report --TV Commercial (High School)

(Carolyn Beck, Civic Memorial H.S., 200 School St., Bethalto, IL 62010)

Present to the class a two to three minute television-type commercial for your book.

o       Identify the major characters

o       Describe their major conflicts

o       Hint at how those conflicts are resolved

Show the book plus one other visual aid such as a poster, picture, "Prop" (e.g. toy whale for Moby Dick), costume (cowboy hat for The Red Pony), etc. Decide how you want to stage your commercial, within the limitations of what is available in our classroom (desks, chairs) that can be set up quickly. If you use notes, they must be on one 3/5 card. Practice at home.

Example: Speaker is seated on the edge of a table, holding a copy of Huckleberry Finn, with a shoebox diorama (of a river scene with a raft) sitting beside him on the table. He says: "If you enjoy adventure, yen for escape, have always dreamed of a Mississippi River cruise, this book is for you. Join young Huckleberry Finn and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, as they travel down the river on a raft. They get caught in a family feud that leaves nine people dead, team up with traveling actors who try to bild some orphans, and trade identities with Huck's best friend, Tom Sawyer. They battle rattlesnakes, smallpox, robbers and murderers, and slave bounty hunters, but all turns out for the best. Don't miss this Mark Twain classic, available at your local library.

(Note: A PowerPoint presentation could provide visuals--even with animated effects.)

  1. Oprah Interview (JH/MS, HS)

(Linda Miller, Westminster Christian Academy, 10900 Ladue Road, Creve Coeur, Missouri 63141)

You (and your partner, if you have one) are an advertising executive who is going to appear on Oprah or another TV show which does book interviews. Oprah or the host is going to ask you about the newest book you are promoting. You are going to show him/her the following:

o       A poster of your book--must have title and author on front (and your name(s))

o       A bumper sticker similar to poster

o       A button (must be worn during presentation)

o       A brief radio or TV commercial (30 sec. - 1 minute long). You can do this on tape (VCR or cassette) or with PowerPoint or just do one orally. Both partners must participate.

o       A magazine, newspaper ad, or webpage advertisement

Total for entire presentation--3-4 minutes


6. Talking into Writing, Using Collaborative Writing to Make a Book Report (S,C,JH/MS)

(Rose Lee Davis, 912 Cherry St., Chillicoth, MO 64601)

This approach utilizes the strategies of sharing with partners, listening and taking notes, writing rough drafts, revising with the collaboration of a partner, editing, and peer evaluation.

7. Book Report Project (HS)

(Bobbie Coleman, Searcy High School, Searcy, Arkansas)

This book report project is based on the American novel which you are to read this nine weeks. This project is due on Friday, November 3 (the week after nine weeks' tests). Twenty points will be deducted from your grade if this is turned in late (unless you have an excused absence). The project will not be accepted after Monday, November 6.

This project must be in a folder. The items should be in the order that I have given them below. This project will be graded on neatness. The summary and the character sketch should be typed or printed by computer.  I will keep these projects.

Requirements In Order:

    1. You must make a book jacket for the book. This must be a colorful picture which pertains to the book. On the back of the jacket, you must include the section about the author of the book.
    2. The report must have a title page giving the name of the book and the author. It should also have your name, period, and date.
    3. The report must have a table of contents. The pages in the report should be numbered.
    4. There must be a 200-word summary of the book in manuscript form. This must include the ending of the book.
    5. There must be a picture of the main character(s). This can be drawn or cut from a magazine.
    6. There must be a 100-word character sketch of the main character. You should concentrate on one main personality trait of his/hers, giving examples from the book to substantiate this trait. This must be in manuscript form.
    7. Write a letter to the author of the book, telling him/her why you did/did not like the book. Be specific.
    8. Write a letter to a friend of yours giving three specific reasons why you would/would not recommend this book to him/her.
    9. Make a list of 20 vocabulary words from the book. Doublespace between each word and give the page number the word is on and its definition.
    10. Make out a 25 question test on the book. This may be fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, short answer, true or false, or matching. Include the answers to the questions. You may have as many as two essay questions, also.