Learning Together

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Alternatives to Book Reports

November 20, 2012 , , , ,

Being able to consume, critique, and create media is so important for our 21st century students. While I love to write about books in my book reviews, lots of children don’t share my enthusiasm. If your kids or students groan at the mere mention of writing a book report, consider some alternative ideas.

Instead of a book report, have your kids make a book trailer! If you’re not sure where to start, check out this article by Kim Chatel, Making a Digital Story with Kids. Book trailers are a great way to have children focus on summarising plot while also attempting to convey something of the mood or tone of a novel.

You can find many examples of downloadable book trailers suitable for children at Book Trailers – Movies for Literacy. Publishers’ sites and Youtube will bring you even more.Creating Trailers with Students also has lots of helpful information.

Making a book trailer or any short video with your kids/students is a perfect time to discuss copyright with them. Check out the Copyright and Copyleft Wiki for some clear explanations and useful Creative Commons resources.

Instead of a book report, have your kids design a poster. Websites like Notaland and Glogster encourage the creation of interactive posters too. To explore poster creation further, you might like to read Book Chook Favourites – Making Posters.

Instead of a book report, have your kids design an advertisement for the book. The ad could take the form of:
* text
* text and an image suitable for inclusion in a magazine
* text read aloud as audio
* text for video if you have access to a camera
* text and images for inclusion in a slideshow
* improvised advertisements that can be performed after a little practise for an audience
* any combination of the above

Instead of a book report, have your kids design a cartoon or comic. To explore this further, you might like to read Book Chook Favourites – Cartoon Creation. Software likeComic Life is great for adding speech bubbles and dialogue to photos or art work. The online comic editors like ToonDoo offer a range of backgrounds, characters and props to help kids tell a story.

Instead of a book report, kids can turn their family, pets and friends into stars. They can dress and pose them for photos, then capture scenes from the story the way they see them. Use those photos as the basis for a movie-style poster (Big Huge Labs), an advertisement explaining why people should read the book, or a comic (Comic Life). Make a slideshow of your photos and add captions and music.

Instead of a book report, sum up a book (or movie or song) in four icons. This is perfect for high school kids when time is short. Read more about it at The Tech Savvy Educator.

Instead of a book report, use animated movie people to speak about the book for you. At websites like Xtranormal, you can animate characters and have them speak. Kids could have one character interview another, and report about a book that way.

Instead of a brief book report, use Blabberize to record yourself behind a photo.

The crucial factors involved in communicating to others about a book, I believe, are:
1. Read the book.
2. Reflect about what you’ve read. Ask yourself questions about the plot, the characters, the theme, the problems the characters face etc.
3. Choose a format to communicate your understanding that best suits you and the book.

Find more ideas at The Daring Librarian – Ban Book Reports, and Cybraryman’s collection of articles at Book Reports.

And to the purists who insist that writing a textual book report is the only way to go, I say : “Ever since cavemen sat around a fire and told yarns, humans have been preoccupied with story. Aren’t sculpture, dance, comics, poetry, photography, and book trailers all ways of transmitting some kind of story? Involving your kids in something like this allows them to experience the creative process as apprentices, and may very well lead to a deep and abiding love for all types of story later in their lives.” (The Book Chook, November 2009)

Bio: Teachers, librarians and parents from all over the world visit The Book Chook ( to find tips on encouraging kids to read, write and create; articles about using technology to motivate kids’ learning; and links to games, learning activities and online fun. Susan Stephenson is the face behind The Book Chook, where she shares her passion for children’s literacy, literature and learning. Twitter: @BookChook

Susan Stephenson

What do you think?

Please keep your comments polite and on-topic.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Thanks for the shout out about the 4 Icon Challenge! While I wouldn’t necessarily use it as a replacement for a full book report, it is a useful visual activity to check in with students to see if they have a clear understanding of main themes or major events of a novel. It might serve as a nice media piece to compliment some larger form of assessment or instructional practice revolving around a book.

Lots of other great strategies and activities for summarizing or exploring a book, thanks!

Ben Rimes

November 30, 2012

1 notes

  1. 5th Post – Looking at the Big Picture « EDCI 546 Integrating Tech in Elem Literacy Blog reblogged this and added:

    […] blog post, I will be talking about another entry in Project PLN’s 2012-2013 edition called Alternatives to Book Reports. In this entry it discusses creative alternatives for book reports and brings up the point that […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,227 other followers

%d bloggers like this: