If you notice big eye rolls or hear lots of groaning when you mention the words "book reports," it's probably time to shake up your repertoire of book-related activities. From developing chat room-style discussion questions and writing online book reviews to designing book covers and creating pitches to "sell" Oprah on a favorite author, there are many innovative alternatives to traditional book reports.
The following ideas will rev up your students' enthusiasm for reading while creating opportunities for them to practice reading comprehension strategies and build language arts skills. Most of the activities are adaptable across grade levels and are flexible enough for whole-group, small group, or individual assignments.
- Write a letter to the main character and the character's reply.
- Write a different ending for the book.
- Pretend you are a talk show host and interview the main character.
- Create a travel brochure for the setting of the story or scrapbook pages about key characters.
- Create a book jacket, including illustrations, an enticing synopsis, author bio, and favorable reviews.
- Summarize the book into a comic or story aimed for younger students or your classmates.
- Write a news article about an important event from the book.
- Write about the decisions you would make if you were the main character in the book.
- Dramatize a scene from the story with other students or using puppets.
- Post a book review on Share What You're Reading.
- Choose two characters from the story and write a conversation they might have.
- Write a letter or email to a close friend recommending the book you have just read.
- Make a list of new, unusual, or interesting words or phrases found in your book.
- Prepare a television commercial about your book. Act out the commercial for your classmates.
- Write ten chat room-style questions that could be used to start an online discussion about the book. Or, write ten questions that test other students' understanding of the story. Make sure you provide a list of answers.
- Explain why you think this book will or will not be read 100 years from now. Support your opinion by stating specific events in the story.
- Discuss one particular episode in the story that you remember most. Describe why you think it remains so clear to you.
- Write a letter/email to the author of your book. Address it to the publisher and mail it. Or, see if the author has a website and email it.
- Write a ballad or song about the characters and events in your story. Set the words to the music of a popular song and sing it to the class.
- Give a dramatic reading of a scene in the book to your classmates.
- Describe in detail three characters from the story. List reasons why you would or wouldn't want to get to know these people.
- Design a poster or new book cover depicting the climax of the story.
- Write an acrostic poem about the book using the letters in the title of the book or the name of a character or author.
- Draw a classroom mural depicting a major scene(s) from the book.
- After reading an informational book, make a scrapbook about the topics.
These ideas were adapted from November! Idea Book by Karen Sevaly (© Teacher Friend, a Scholastic Company) and The Scholastic Teacher Plan Book by Bill Singer and Tonya Ward Singer (© 2005, Scholastic).
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