Book Reports area common sight, still, in many classrooms, including secondary classes. They’re easy to implement, for both whole-class reading, but also for the increase in small-group or individual book choice selections.
In fact, book reports (and their close cousin, the book review) are an answer to the challenge of allowing group or individual book choice selections. How to have students demonstrate understanding of all the different texts? Book reports are easily used with any book to (hopefully) have students demonstrate that they have read it.
At it’s a core, a book report is largely a retelling of the book. One of the problems with book reports at the higher grades is that it’s quite easy to scavenge enough information about the book online, without having read it. More so, they don’t include much analysis, if any. Even a review may only require a cursory opinion with nominal support beyond, “I liked it!” Assuming students don’t pretend they’re trying to avoid spoilers.
Luckily, there are several creative project choices that require students to not just retell the text, but process and manipulate it.
Here are 6 Creative culminating projects that build on retelling:
- Write a Newspaper Article: retell a major event of the story through the medium of a newspaper article. For added depth, students can use standard newspaper article structure, too. Can be expanded to cover all of a short story or a series of articles for several major events. Students can also be challenged to consider what information would a journalist or reporter know from the text, and what information would be unknown– just as with other point of view examination.
- Create an Infographic: students retell the major events, characters, and themes in the form of an infographic, using images and limited text to convey the information. Challenges students to consider organization and used of symbols and imagery. Use online infographic makers, PowerPoint, or paper and collage images.
- Write from an Alternate Point of View: students retell the story through the point of view of another major character. Challenge students to match mood while retelling the major events. However, the change in point of view can affect what information is known or how it is learned, so students will have to analyze the element of point of view.
- Modernize It! Great to use with many classic stories as students examine the impact of one or more modern technology items (like the cell phone or GPS) to the events of the story. How would the major events, themes, and ideas be represented in a modern retelling.
- Recreate in a different medium: students will ‘translate’ the story into another medium, such as film, stage play, graphic novel, or audio book. Students have to dig into the text and evaluate how the selected medium would convey information, and even what would be included versus left out.
- Retell in a Rap or Rhyme: students will turn the events, characters, and themes into a catchy rap (or rhyme). How will they make the lines rhyme? How will they convey the information succinctly, but accurately? Great to put on poster board and hang in the hallway!
Offering one of these fun project options will increase engagement as students dig into the text and analyze the elements to create their specific project. In addition, several projects can be offered for student choice, such as with task cards, choice board, student menu, or other methods (like having the separate requirement sheets available.)
Literary essays are another sound choice for the classroom. Read more about how to Differentiate With Literary Essay Writing, making it accessible to all students and all texts.
Another option, though, is to get away from retelling, and instead, challenge students to Analyze and Create.