When I began teaching the intermediate grades, I didn’t have a reading curriculum, but I had a huge classroom library. I decided to create a series of book reports to hold students accountable for what they read. I read through the state standards and decided to organize by genre. At first I focused on fiction, but over time I have added the non-fiction book reports.
Now I am teaching in a district that has a balanced literacy program. I have my students complete these assignments independently while I work with guided reading groups. Over the years I have had my students complete 6-10 reports. I typically end the year with the “Best Books” assignment which gives students the choice of what genre to read.
Included in this book are 25 book reports: 13 fiction and 12 non-fiction. I have also included two rubrics. I require oral presentations and use this assignment for communication grades. You will notice that I have students reflect on how they did and how they would improve next time. I find that this step improves the quality of the work during the year. I also go over the rubric the first couple of times I assign book reports.
If your students are not familiar with writing book reports, I would prepare a model of what you expect for the first one and have students complete them in groups. I know one teacher who had her entire class read the same book and write book reports on that book. I prefer to have my students share different books with each other.
The non-fiction assignments are supposed to be studies of a single book and not a report where one gathers multiple sources. I encourage my students to choose books with lots of visual information. In order to help them choose, I have listed the Dewey Decimal information to lead the students to the correct category.
When writing a summary of a non-fiction book, I want my students to pay attention to the structure of the book. How is the book organized? Is information presented chronologically? Does it show cause and effect relationships? Does the book introduce a lot of information about a broad topic? Does it compare two or more items of a similar nature? I have written some possible structures for the different types of non-fiction books, but your students may need more direction in this area.
The last several pages are printables I use to organize my reading workshop time. I have included two ways of tracking the progress of my students through a book report assignment and two reading logs. I rewrite my reading logs every few years and have quite a collection of forms. These are my two favorite.
I hope you enjoy these projects with your students.