Book Reports Your Students Can’t Wait to Present!
Give your kids every reason to want to share a good book with their peers.
By Mollie Moore
I think we all had to do book reports growing up, beginning at least in late elementary school. They usually involved some element of writing, some kind of a project, and some form of a presentation. I don’t know about you, but I remember my classmates and I all moaned every time they were brought up. It was probably because we all dreaded at least one aspect of the assignment, if not all aspects. Of course, there were always exceptions to this, but in my experience book reports made budding readers want to crawl right back into hiding, not blossom.
Suppose we introduced book reports at an even earlier age, but this time in a way that got children excited about reading and “reporting” on what they’ve read! I am proposing just three innovative changes to the traditional book report as we knew it.
1. Assign Book Reports as Early as Kindergarten
A good book is worthy of being shared. If we want our kids to get pumped up about books, we need to model it for them. We ought to share our favorite books with them every chance we get. And in turn, we can provide them opportunities to share their favorites with us and one another. One great way to do that is to assign a (very loosely structured) book report. Simply ask that children not keep good books a secret. If they come across a book at home during bedtime reading, or at the library during story time, or at a relative’s house on the weekend that is just too good not to share, ask that they let us in on it! Read on for specifics on the implementation of this.
2. Don’t Make it a Major Assignment
Let book reports serve the purpose of keeping kids accountable to reading, but more importantly keeping them excited about reading. Allow kids to read books they love, share those books with their classmates simply because they are good books worth sharing, and then move on to devote more time to learning other things and reading more books. In fact, even consider making this just an assignment for credit and not for a grade.
3. Allow Students Total Freedom in Choosing How to “Present” Their Chosen Book(s)
Even at the youngest age, speaking in front of their classmates will be the chosen form of sharing for some students. Others, though, may be happy to share their favorite book with their peers by recreating their own version of it to display on the classroom bookshelf. Some may prefer to simply draw a picture from their favorite scene of the story to display in the library corner of the classroom. (Click for another fun idea.) Whatever each child’s choice of presentation style, the goal remains to give every one of them reason to be excited and not anxious about sharing a book they have enjoyed with their classmates.
If book reports, as I’ve described here, were to be a regular, nonchalant part of the primary grades, then the hope is that by the time our young readers have reached the age of more intensive book reports and structured assignments, they will be equipped with the tools to a) enjoy themselves in the process of reading for the assignment, and b) execute the assignment with the more sincere intent to convince others that theirs is a book worth reading.