Ten Tips for Reducing of Book Report Blahs

  1. Get them excited about reading. Before the report is due make a big deal about choosing a book. Have them reflect on their tastes, on genres that get them excited, about when they last read a book they couldn’t put down. Talk about your reading and the enjoyment you get from it.
  2. Take them to a great library.  If it is at all possible, a visit to the library, where books can be touched, felt and in experienced in a cosy environment may change their minds about reading.
  3. Have a read-in.  Yes, a silent reading lesson is a lesson. Turn it into a coffee book shop and have them bring hot drinks and snacks. Find some comfy chairs to bring into the classroom and let them listen to music if it helps them read. There should only be one rule for a read-in, that reading is conducted in silence. However they choose to achieve this should be up to them.
  4. Give them options. A book report need not be in a standard format.Students can be given the choice of reviewing a book in a number of ways. Nowadays there are so many great digital tools that kids can use to reflect on a book including book trailers, online book blogs, vlogs, prezi book presentations, comic strips depicting characters and screens and soooo much more. Let them be artistic, creative and expressive.
  5. Encourage reflection. The purpose of a book report is to encourage extensive reading. This type of reading is not goal based but process based. We know that reading is a process from our own experiences as adults reading a book. Reflective and probing questions like ‘Is the book how you expected it?’ or ‘Did you like the ending? Why/why not?’ and ‘Which character did you relate to the best and to the least and why?’ all encourage reflective processes. Books can be different things to different people. Seeing as so much of a story is up to the imagination, each student experiences a book differently.
  6. Specify your expectations. Like any project, a book report is only as good as its rubric. Nothing is obvious for middle school and high school students, not even the font size or paragraphing. Checklists work well for students and supplying the rubric along with instructions gives them preset goals.
  7. Emphasize the process. A book report is the result of a process called reading. It starts when the student selects the book and ends after the last page has been read. Teachers should monitor their students progress in order not to have a last minute read-the-summary-and-regurgitate task handed in.
  8. Divvy it up. Teachers get the book report blahs the same way students do. Don’t be frightened to try something new with your students. The tried and tested format may not necessarily be the most effective one.reading
  9. Individualize your feedback. Each student has different needs and different challenges when it comes to a book report. Make sure the student is reading a book on their level. If they are frustrated with it after one chapter, they are to find another book to read.
  10. ……and don’t dismiss audiobooks. The reading process can be enormously challenging for LD students. I feel that in listening to an audiobook, one can experience the book in an effective way. Yes, one doesn’t see the words written down but the listening process is also a cognitive one. There are some fanatastic audiobooks out there that our ESL students may not be aware of and they are great for listening to when walking to school or on long journeys, cleaning the house etc.
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