I cannot tell you how many times I am asked by parents if their child will be completing a book report. It seems to me that book reports are viewed by many as a way for teachers to assess a student’s
understanding of a story. I have to be honest, I’m not a fan. I didn’t enjoy doing them as a student and I certainly don’t enjoy marking them as a teacher. They stifle creativity. They are also very easy to complete using the internet and so encourage lazy learning.
What I often like to do at the end of a novel study is to present students with an assignment menu where they can choose a task that most engages them. Here are 9 alternatives to book reports:
1. Extended the Story
Ask students to imagine that the author was going to write a sequel (they may already have!) Ask them what they think should happen in the next instalment. They could write the first chapter of the next book, outline the story in a timeline or they could storyboard what happens next with summaries and images.
2. Redesign the Book Cover
This is a fantastic choice for students with an artistic streak. They could imagine that they were working as an illustrator for a publishing house and had to pitch a book cover re-design to the author. They could produce an electronic design or create a piece of art on the actual book jacket. So that there is a writing element to this, you could also ask them to write a 200 word explanation to accompany their design with prompt questions such as: what theme did you want to convey with your design?
3. A Character’s Social Media Profile
Students could choose a character from the book and create a social media profile for that character. They could choose a Facebook Page, an Instagram Page or a TikTok account. They could post a video in character (great for the actors in the group) or could write two or three posts as that character.
4. Alternative Ending
Love the book but hate the ending? Then this is the perfect assignment! Ask students to have a go at writing the resolution they wanted to read. They could rewrite the final chapter or put together a presentation outlining the changes they would have made.
5. Games, Games and More Games
Ask students to design a board game, card game or escape room that involves the book. For example, the game could advance players when they answer questions about the book, or they could create a card game based on the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. This is the perfect assignment to fuel creativity and it also means those who are advanced with technology can showcase their skills!
All students love Kahoot and rather than having them complete a quiz on the book, ask them to design their own. They can then test their peers!
7. Book Club
Students could imagine that they were hosting a book club after school, and they could come up with 10-20 deeper thinking questions about the book that could spark interesting conversations. They could also provide answers to these questions, or they could host mini-book clubs in class in small groups.
8. Hollywood Pitch
Making movies based on popular books is a Hollywood staple. They could imagine that they were pitching the book to the CEO of a production company. They could give suggestions about who should play the characters, or they could identity any elements that might need to change in the film version. This is a great alternative to a summary presentation. This activity works best with books that have not already been made into films.
9. New Character Alert
Students could introduce a new character into the book they’ve read. For example, if it was ‘The Hunger Games’, they could write about one of the other tributes. They could create a character profile for this, they could illustrate the character, or write a chapter in which this character might appear – the options are endless!
Make it Engaging
As demonstrated above, there are so many alternatives to book reports that will be far more engaging for students and, let’s be honest, far more interesting for teachers to mark!
(Photo description: Colorful booked stacked one on top of the other.)