View Full Version : Book Reports

11-07-2011, 03:40 PM
How do you feel about them?

I love discussions on books. I think those are extremely valuable (and fun! yeah.. I'm geeky :D).

But book reports? Seriously?

I've heard the argument that they are important later for college. Can't say I did anything remotely like them for college, though, and unless I'm requiring citations or biblios on the book reports, they still fail.

Dh says they are important, so our kids will have to learn how. I'm fine with that (as far as it goes mwahaha)

What are your thoughts? And why?

Stella M
11-07-2011, 04:08 PM
We don't do book reports :)

My kids are in a book club that I've run, on and off, since they were littlies. They do plenty of discussion there.

Adults get to read a book and then discuss it over a drink and a snack. Why shouldn't kids get to experience the same pleasure ? It's a delight to hear children I've known since they were quite small talking together about books.

Imo, they learn more from the discussion than they ever would from writing a book report. Reports kind of kill the book. Imo.

Oh, I just remembered what else we've done - they have occasionally written reviews which have been published in things like book shop newletters, library newsletters, online etc. I think those real world experiences of writing about books have meaning to a child, whereas a book report is just another dumb thing adults make them do. Imo :)

11-07-2011, 04:08 PM
I think book reports are a way of showing that you read and understood the book...and I don't find them necessary in my home. We discuss books if they find them interesting but I don't see any reason to make them write all of that out. It is probably good writing practice though, if you find yourself needing something to use as writing practice.

One of my daughters HATES to read (Gasp, I know) and I feel that asking her to do a book report on something that she read reluctantly would be just...well...mean.

(and of course this is all just my opinion... insert wink here)

11-07-2011, 04:27 PM
IMO (:) ) book reports are not necessary. I love discussing books and my thoughts are very similar to what Melissa and Marmalade expressed.

Though I find the typical written book report super boring and unnecessary, I HAVE worked with book reports that are actually fun to do, and which the children actually look forward to doing. they are just a fun, creative way to share your opinions, ideas, favorite parts, theme, etc about a book. For example:
1. creating a "Wanted" poster for the main characters in the book
2. creating a CD cover based on the book, and titling songs to realte to the themes, ideas presented (my son actually wrote some songs to go along with this one)
3. Making a mobile with illustrations from the key story parts
4. painting or drawing to illustrate what they feel the main theme of the book is
5. writing a song
6. writing a diary that you feel the main character or favorite character would have written

I can't think of many others right now, but bottom line, these projects are just a fun, creative way for them to express what they learned, understood, and took from the book.
BUT, I wouldn't force them to do them if it became a chore. Discussions are far more effective in my opinion!

BTW, I can't remember doing any book reports in college either??

Stella M
11-07-2011, 04:30 PM
In college ? No way!!!

I don't think you need to have a book club either btw. Sometimes I just read the same books my dd's read and we talk about them while we're doing the dishes or somesuch.

11-08-2011, 07:42 AM
In college we had discussions about books and stories in my English 101 class. We did have to write a few essays but that is definitely different than a book report. I think having a discussion or doing a fun project on the books you read would be more beneficial. As for preparing for college as long as your kids learn how to write an essay they should be fine.

11-08-2011, 07:50 AM
In school I always got the impression that book reports were assigned to prove we had read the book. Hello cliff notes :D

I'm not saying I'd never assign a book report, but so far I haven't. As the others have said, I'd rather have a discussion.

11-08-2011, 07:55 AM
My kids are still too young, but I think a book review rather than a book report would be useful. I can see having them write reviews and even publish them on a website or blog.

11-08-2011, 08:01 AM
We don't do book reports either because they are boring and the kids don't learn anything from doing them. Discussing the book is a much more valuable way to spend our time and we all enjoy it. We also do projects like gidamom suggested. This year I am trying to have my ds spend more time learning Powerpoint, Excel, Access and other software. So he will be creating a book trailer using Powerpoint from this site (http://www.technokids.com/). There are so many fun alternatives to book reports!

11-08-2011, 08:44 AM
When people argue that they prepare you for college, I wonder if it's the actual process of putting together an essay to which they're referring. In that case, a book report can prepare you for college, but so could a good composition class with interesting topics to write about.

Edit: And I really like Gidamom's suggestions. Those sound a lot more fun and engaging than a book report.
I do like watching kids give book reviews on Youtube, but that's another can of worms...

11-08-2011, 08:52 AM
I had Orion do a book report our first year, but I havent since. But . . . in freshman honors comp, we had a utopian theme, where we basically read several utopian/dystopian books and wrote about them, including a compare/contrast where we could use any of the books we read that semester or any other book we wanted to write about. I guess they werent book reports in the grade school sense, but writing about books, yet. and i never even took any literature classes. Ok, not true, I took a womens lit class, but I dont remember essays as much as tests in that class? Tests w short answers and probably one short essay at the end. but maybe i misremember.

11-08-2011, 09:35 AM
Sonny does book reports but it is for essay practice. In the past we followed along with the EIW format of essay writing for the book reports. Sonny is an excellent writer but always wants to be direct and straight to the point and the EIW sometimes can get in the way of that. So this year we are doing the 5 paragraph but only 21 sentence essay. Each and every sentence counts and must contain a very specific piece of information. He's enjoying doing these book reports this way, he says it causes him to think to pick out only what matters most of the books and he spends less time writing them this year than last. This format will help later in writing the SAT essay so he can be straight, direct, and to the point in answering the question then filling in the fluff (which he learned doing the EIW) to make it more appealing to the readers. So, we just use a book report as an excuse to write essays. What really matters at an end point to reading a book is our discussions of the books, plot, characters, conflicts, dilemmas, resolutions, morals, etc... Are book reports necessary as a follow-up to reading a book, no.

11-08-2011, 09:39 AM
Instead of book reports, I have my kids do powerpoint presentations about them instead. The presentations include things like author's biographical information, favorite scenes/characters from the book, and personal review information. They only do maybe 2-3 of these a year; like others, we usually just talk about what they read or I combine it with a writing assignment and they do a topic-specific essay about it (2 birds--1 stone).

My dh developes powerpoint presentations ALL THE TIME for work. I just feel it's a good skill to learn.

11-08-2011, 09:52 AM
We've done lots of book reports this year.
My son finally got into reading in English and I just have him write a couple of paragraphs (free style) when he's done with a book.
In our case, it's one of the easier ways to get him to write. He has a hard time with creative writing, so writing about something he just read is helpful.
I don't do it for the sake of book reporting so much as just for the sake of writing.
When he's older, and I'm interested in the books he's reading, it will probably be more discussion.

11-08-2011, 11:21 AM
I haven't done book reports per se, but I do use books as the basis for other writing assignments. We've worked on character studies using Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, compared/contrasted settings using the Magic Tree House series, and have upcoming studies of plot and theme though I haven't worked out which books we'll be using yet. He hates writing for the sake of writing, and I don't want to make him use random prompts yet. Seems pointless now thought I know he'll have to get used to it at some point.

11-08-2011, 11:26 AM
I find book reports to be busy work, and I have never assigned one. I would rather my kids read the books and discuss.

11-08-2011, 12:22 PM
We also will read and discuss a book( I personally find book reports stupid). Usually over hot chocolate and a cookie. This shows me they read the book and this helps with compression. I do make them keep a list of the books they read and we give out small rewards when they have read a sheet worth.

11-08-2011, 02:47 PM
Ok, I have to admit I kinda dread discussing books. My boys will either say "I don't know" or start quoting entire pages almost ver batim. Sigh.

11-08-2011, 03:22 PM
We've done lots of book reports this year.
My son finally got into reading in English and I just have him write a couple of paragraphs (free style) when he's done with a book.
In our case, it's one of the easier ways to get him to write. He has a hard time with creative writing, so writing about something he just read is helpful.
I don't do it for the sake of book reporting so much as just for the sake of writing.
When he's older, and I'm interested in the books he's reading, it will probably be more discussion.

This is a very good point.

Unfortunately the child that is a relunctant writer is also a relunctant reader/

11-08-2011, 04:57 PM
I feel that asking my dd to do a book report will make it even harder to get her to read. I feel that discussion helps much more with her understanding of a book than writing a report.
In terms of importance for college I think writing is an important skill. I don't think you need to write book reports though. You can practice writing in many other ways.

11-09-2011, 12:00 AM
I hadn't even thought of a book report. I remember liking them in 6th grade. But that is the year I read the Outsiders. Wait, I think I read it in 6th grade because I needed a book fast and I'd already read it in 5th Grade.

Is it okay to like YA fiction better than grown-up fiction?

11-09-2011, 12:19 AM
I remember doing book reports throughout elementary and high schools. Not every teacher, every year would assign them, though.

I think that they were a way that some teachers used to evaluate the students' understanding, and to verify that they read the book. It is probably especially useful in a school room setting of 20 or so kids, where discussions alone might not allow the teacher to evaluate students on an individual basis.

I've had my son do some. He wasn't real keen on them, but did them. If I felt that he enjoyed them, or that they would help *me* evaluate his work, I'd probably still do them. I don't find them particularly useful anymore, but I can see the value for some students. At this point, I try to pick and choose writing assignments carefully. Every so often, something comes up that gets him fired up, and I can usually get some writing out of him.

For example, I had him write a persuasive essay to convince me that I should get Minecraft for him...

11-09-2011, 07:29 AM
For example, I had him write a persuasive essay to convince me that I should get Minecraft for him...

Love :cool:

11-09-2011, 07:46 AM
I don't use book "reports" per se. We may do a book "project". Like another poster said, I use relevant (to ds9) topics to get him writing and writing about a book he read, to me, is busy-work/fluff that ds doesn't need.

Having said that, when we are getting into 8th and above, we will learn lit analysis and there WILL be papers, but those are lit papers, not book reports. :)

11-09-2011, 08:14 AM
I think that book reports a concoction for a traditional classroom full of kids sense of "tell me what happened in the beginning middle and end of the book, identify the characters, the setting and the conflict" and then do a poster or some such activity is, as hampchick suggested, way to see if you've read and understood the basics of the book. I think discussions and making connections are more conducive to actually learning through literature. Essay writing, in the higher level is not the same as a book report. Being able to answer a question like "explain, using examples from the book Pride and Prejudice the persistent, and still relavent, conflict between generational ideas" is more along they lines of what you'd need for college. I think fun projects are a good idea for elementary age so long as kids are into that sort of thing. I tend toward projects that connect to the history/context/enrichment end, or ones that require some flexible thinking, like retell this chapter from another characters point of view, that sort of thing. I've been trying to let my kids have a good deal of input on what they do for projects to foster some more enthusiasm and meaning. Works for the older one (13), but not as much with the younger (10 & 8).

11-09-2011, 08:28 AM
I just looked back and saw the Minecraft idea....we have done two of those here! One was a book cover he designed in the minecraft world which came out VERY cool and used his strengths since he's not much of an artist with conventional medium. And, we just did a narrative story in first person with the main character who was a guy inside the minecraft game. He was supposed to write about "how you overcome challenges in your own life". Well, at 12 going on 13 and a pretty cushy life, he said he couldn't think of anything that would be interesting. So we came up with this. He enjoyed it so much, he wrote the sequel just for fun. And the more interesting part was, that he did all of the things like use juicy words, use simile/metaphor, change sentence length and punctuation to affect the pace and tone of the story. I know he would't have applied himself that way if we had stuck with the assignment as it was written. It was great homeschool moment and I was glad to offer him that flexibility with the assignment. He sure as hell wouldn't have been afforded that in PS.