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Teaching With Book Reports

As all teachers know, reading is fundamental skill.  It is also important for teachers to make sure that students understand and comprehend what they are reading via assessments such as book reports. But how do we as teachers ensure that students develop a passion for reading? The strategy that we stress here at the Teachtopia network is to teach reading and therefore assigning book reports via genres.. For example, if a teacher were to only read and assign classic literature to his or her students, there are always a few student who would simply turn off to this type of fiction and classic genre. Instead it is highly recommended that teachers teach and encourage students to read multiple genres throughout the year.

I know many people who never really cared much about fiction, but as children discovered biographies and science texts that led them to other non-fiction.

Teaching reading via genres could done by presenting the class with a book report schedule that Starts in September and ends in June and every few weeks the students have to have read a book from a specific genre.

Here are some book report categories:

Historical Fiction   example: Little House on the Prairie

Classic:  Black Beauty

Award Winning:   Books that won the Newbery, Caldecott, Corretta Scott King Award

Science Non-fiction:  Pee Yew by Mike Artell

Sports fiction:  example:  Any book by Matt Christopher

Humorous fiction    example:  Superfudge

How-to Books  example: How to Draw Dinosaurs

Autobiography  example:  The Art of The Deal by Donald Trump

Biography   example:  Harriet Tubman

Poetry Anthologies  example: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Mystery    example:  Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys

Suspense  example:  Any book by Christopher Pike

Adventure  example:  Indiana Jones

Comic:  Baby Mouse by Jennifer and Matt Holm

Animal Fiction :  example:  Ralph S. Mouse

The above genres are the major categories you may use of when creating your book report schedule.

As a classroom teacher you get to not only explain and give examples of the genres, but also introduce new vocabulary to help students gain interest in each genre. For example, if your class is assigned Animal Fiction, the concept (personification) should be discussed. Every student will relish the idea of an animal or object being seen or acting like a human being within the context of a story. Classic examples in literature would be the Wind and The Willows or Mickey Mouse.

While , Teachtopia.com has  provided you with examples of books for each genre listed at the site,  you as a teacher still have the challenge to make sure that students acquire a book, read it, and then do the in-class assessment.

Here are some strategies for all of the above...

First make sure that the student and parent gets multiple copies at the beginning of the year of a book report schedule. Have both parents and students sign a tear-off on it and have additional copies of the schedule available all year. Remember, the goal is to have your students reading, not to teach them a lesson about the dire consequences of losing a schedule.

Another strategy is to ensure that students have a familiarity with your classroom library. Please see  our Teaching Tips Podcast  #1 for strategies on how to  build up that library. In addition to the classroom library, if your school has a library, it pays to befriend the school librarian so you could get class time in there for students to check out books. We also recommend having a public library librarian be invited into your class early on in the year to most often simply re-acquaint the students to the resources available in their community via the public library.

Once you help the students acquire their books for each genre, it is also important to touch base with them and their progress while reading. some teachers not only record the books they chose, but also make a point of having the students do a reading record (literally count how many pages they read each week). other teachers simply call the student up during the period and orally touch base with them regarding their progress. of course it also makes sense to schedule some class time for sustained silent reading where all students are to read their assigned genre book.

For the class assessment, since most the students are doing different books, a book report format that works for many books and not just one is the best idea.

We have listed a few resources to help you in this endeavor, but here are some written response guidelines that could work for all fiction book reports.

A book report could have many possible sections for the students to work on, but here are a few that have withstood the test of time:

Write a descriptions about the main characters.

Identify the conflict and how it was resolved.

Give  your opinions of the book do you recommend it to others? Why?

Describe the setting and answer both where and when the story took place.

Create an alternate ending..

When looking for grade level books for book reports, don’t  forget  the Teachtopia education network’s famous grade level reading list.   We recommend sharing this grade level reading list to parents so they know that there kids are reading grade level appropriate books.