Choosing Book Report Alternatives
Creative book report ideas allow students to display their understanding of the important elements of a novel while also given them a chance to express their creativity and individuality. These alternatives are equally suitable for use with whole-class reading or individual choice novels. Consider using one of the following ideas instead of a traditional report the next time you make a new reading assignment.
Create a Newspaper
Ask students to create a mock newspaper inspired by a book they have just read. In addition to articles, students should include authentic advertisements, letters to the editor, classifieds and more. This could also work well as a group project. Depending on available resources, students can create the newspaper in a desktop publishing program or cut and paste articles and pictures onto larger sheets of paper.
This alternative may work best in a book set during a specific time period, that establishes a strong sense of place with a unique setting, or in which the plot relies on “newsworthy” events. For instance, assigning this option after reading To Kill a Mockingbird would allow students to both report on the significance of the trial and display their new knowledge of the specific time period and setting of the novel.
If you would like students to focus on thematic elements in a novel, a theme presentation is a creative book report idea that will highlight this aspect of their reading. Students should first decide on the central or most important theme in the work. Although it’s likely that there will be multiple themes in more complex works, it will be easier to focus on one.
After students select a theme, they should then find at least three other works that share this theme. This may include other novels, movies, poems, songs, artwork, advertisements, or any other texts the teacher allows. Presentations should include a description of the theme and how it is represented in each of the pieces they have selected, along with sharing the chosen texts in an appropriate manner.
A dialog journal is a journal in which students record excerpts from the text alongside their own reactions and interpretation, in this way engaging in a dialog with the reading. Students can either make references to the novel on the left-hand page of a notebook and write their own thoughts on the right-hand page, or simply draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and pair quotations and observations in that way. Students can keep a dialog journal as they read an entire novel or for a single chapter. Teachers should first model this technique for the class before assigning to ensure students are making appropriate observations and commentary.