Alternative Book Reports

From Ideas for Teaching English in the Junior High and Middle School, edited by Candy Carter and Zora Rashkis.  Urbana, Ill.:  National Council of Teachers of English, 1980.  Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

  1. Paint a mural of the story or parts of it.
  2. Gather a collection of objects described in the book.
  3. Use a map or time-line to show routes or times.
  4. Make a map showing where the story took place.
  5. Tell about the author or illustrator.  
  6. Make a seed mosaic picture.
  7. Do a soap carving of a character or animal from the story.
  8. Make a balsa wood carving of a character or animal from the story.
  9. Write a letter to a friend about the book.
  10. Make a time-line for a historical book.
  11. Research and tell a brief biography about the author.
  12. Make a colorful mural depicting the book.
  13. Think of a new adventure for the main character.
  14. Write a script for an interview with the main character. 
  15. Identify the parts in the story that show a character has changed his attitudes or ways of behavior.
  16. A part of the story that you think could not have really happened.
  17. A part that proves a personal opinion that you hold.
  18. Pretend you are the main character and retell the story.
  19. Work with a small group of students. Plan for one to read orally while the others pantomime the action.
  20. Write a letter to one of the characters.
  21. Write a biographical sketch of one character. Fill in what you don't find in the text using your own imagination.
  22. Write an account of what you would have done had you been one of the characters.
  23. Using information in a book to make a scrapbook about the subject.
  24. Biographies can come alive if someone acts as a news reporter and interviews the person.
  25. Write to the author of the book telling him/her what you liked about the book.
  1. Write a letter from one character to another character.
  2. Write the first paragraph (or two) for a sequel. Outline what would happen in the rest of book. 
  3. If a journey was involved, draw a map with explanatory notes of significant places.
  4. Use e-mail to tell a reading pen pal about the book.
  5. Participate with three or four classmates in a television talk show about the book.
  6. With another student, do a pretend interview with the author or with one of the characters.
  7. Cut out magazine pictures to make a collage or a poster illustrating the idea of the book.
  8. Lead a small group discussion with other readers of the same book. Focus on a specific topic and report your group's conclusion to the class.
  9. Find a song or a poem that relates to the theme of your book. Explain the similarities.
  10. For fun, exaggerate either characteristics or events and write a tabloid-style news story related to your book.
  11. Decide on an alternate title for the book. Why is it appropriate? Is it better than the one the book has now? Why or Why not?
  12. Write a letter to the main character of the book. Write the letter he or she sends back.
  13. Write a description of one of the main characters. Draw or cut out a picture to accompany the description.
  14. Prepare a list of 15 to 20 questions for use in determining if other people have read the book carefully. Must include some "thought" questions. "How?" "Why"
  15. Write a diary as the main character would write it to explain the events of the story. Must have at least 5 entries.
  16. Make a map showing where the story took place.
  17. Make a dictionary containing 20 or more difficult words from the book.
  18. Describe the problem or conflict existing for the main character in the book. Tell how the conflict was or was not resolved.
  19. Make a crossword puzzle using ideas from a book. Need at least 25 entries.
  20. Choose any topic from your book and write a 1-2 page research report on it. Include a one paragraph explanation as to how it applies to your book (not in the paper itself--on your "title page.")
  21. Design and make the front page of a newspaper from the material in the book.
  22. Pretend you are a teacher, preparing to teach your novel to the entire class. Create 5 journal prompts.
  23. Make a display of the time period of your book.
  24. Create a radio ad for your book. Write out the script and tape record it as it would be presented. Don't forget background music!
  25. Make a "wanted" poster for one of the characters or objects in your book. Include the following: (a) a drawing or cut out picture of the character or object, (b) a physical description of the character or object, (c) the character's or object's misdeeds (or deeds?), (d) other information about the character or object which is important, (e) the reward offered for the capture of the character or object.
  26. Research and write a 1 page report on the geographical setting of your story. Include an explanation as to why this setting was important to the effect of the story.
  27. Write a scene that could have happened in the book you read but didn't. After you have written the scene, explain how it would have changed the outcome of the book.
  28. Create a board game based on events and characters in the book you read. By playing your game, members of the class should learn what happened in the book. Your game must include the following: a game board, a rule sheet and clear directions, events and characters from the story.
  29. Make models of three objects which were important in the book you read. On a card attached to each model, tell why that object was important in the book.
  30. If the book you read involves a number of locations within a country or geographical area, plot the events of the story on a map. Make sure the map is large enough for us to read the main events clearly. Attach a legend to your map. Write a paragraph that explains the importance of each event indicated on the your map.
  31. Complete a series of five drawings that show five of the major events in the plot of the book you read. Write captions for each drawing so that the illustrations can be understood by someone who did not read the book.
  32. Make a test for the book you read. Include 10 true-false, 10 multiple choice, and 10 short essay questions. After writing the test, provide the answers for your questions.
  33. Select one character from the book you read who has the qualities of a heroine or hero. List these qualities and tell why you think they are heroic.
  34. Imagine that you are about to make a feature-length film of the novel you read. You have been instructed to select your cast from members of your English class. Cast all the major characters in your novel from your English classmates and tell why you selected each person for a given part.
  35. List five of the main characters from the book you read. Give three examples of what each character learned or did not learn in the book.
  36. Obtain a job application from an employer in our area, and fill out the application as one of the characters in the book you read might do. Before you obtain the application, be sure that the job is one for which a character in your book is qualified. If a resume is required, write it.
  37. You are a prosecuting attorney putting one of the characters from the book you read on trial for a crime or misdeed. Prepare your case on paper, giving all your arguments.
  38. Do the previous activity, but find a buddy to help you. One of you becomes the prosecuting attorney; the other is the defense. If you can't find a buddy, you could try it on your own.
  39. Make a shoe box diorama of a scene from the book you read. Write a paragraph explaining the scene and its effect in the book on your title page.
  40.  Construct a diorama (three-dimensional scene which includes models of people, buildings, plants, and animals) of one of the main events of the book. Include a written description of the scene.
  41. Make a television box show of ten scenes in the order that they occur in the book you read. Cut a square form the bottom of a box to serve as a TV screen and make two slits in opposite sides of the box. Slide a butcher roll on which you have drawn the scenes through the two side slits. Make a tape to go with your television show. Be sure to write out a script before taping or performing live.
  42. Tape an interview with one of the characters in the book you read. Pretend that this character is being interviewed by a magazine or newspaper reporter. You may do this project with a partner, but be sure to write a script before taping. You may choose to do a "live" version of this.
  43. Write a letter to a friend about the book you read. Explain why you liked or did not like the book.
  44. Do some research on the hometown of your book's author. You may be able to find descriptions of his or her home, school, favorite hangouts, etc.
  45. Write the copy for a newspaper front page that is devoted entirely to the book you read. The front page should look as much like a real newspaper page as possible. The articles on the front page should be based on events and characters in the book.
  46. Make a collage that represents major characters and events in the book you read. Use pictures and words cut from magazines in your collage.
  47. Make a time line of the major events in the book you read. Be sure the divisions on the time line reflect the time period in the plot. Use drawings or magazine cutouts to illustrate events along the time line. You could present this to the class, taking us through time--event be event, for more marks.
  48. Change the setting of the book you read. Tell how this change of setting would alter events and affect characters.
  49. Make a paper doll likeness of one of the characters in the book you read. Design at least threes costumes for this character. Next, write a paragraph commenting on each outfit; tell what the clothing reflects about the character, the historical period and events in the book.
  50. Pick a national issue. Compose a speech to be given on that topic by one of the major characters in the book you read. Be sure the contents of the speech reflect the characters personality and beliefs.
  51. Retell the plot of the book you read as it might appear in a third-grade reading book. Be sure that the vocabulary you use is appropriate for that age group. Tape your storytelling.
  52. Complete each of these eight ideas with material growing out of the book you read: This book made me wish that..., realize that..., decide that..., wonder about..., see that..., believe that ..., feel that..., and hope that...
  53. After reading a non-fiction book, become a teacher. Prepare a lesson that will teach something you learned from the book. It could be a "how-to" lesson or one on content. Plan carefully to present all necessary information in a logical order. You don't want to confuse your students! Present your lesson to your students. How did you do? If you taught a "how-to" lesson, look at the final product to see if your instructions to the class were clear. If your lesson introduced something new, you might give a short quiz to see how well you taught the lesson.
  54. Look through magazines for words and pictures that describe your book. Use these to create a collage on a bookmark. Make the bookmark available for others to use as they read the same book.
  55. Write the title of your book. Decide on some simple word--picture--letter combinations that will spell out the title "rebus style." Present it to the class to solve (I will make a transparency or copies for you.) After they have solved the rebus., invite them to ask questions about the book.
  56. Choose an interesting character from your book. Consider the character's personality, likes and dislikes. Decide on a gift for him or her... something he or she would really like and use. Design a greeting card to go along with your gift. In the greeting, explain to your friend from the book why you selected the gift.
  57. Design a poster to advertise your book. Be creative...use detail...elaborate...use color! Can you make it 3-D or movable?
  58. Make a large poster that could be a cover for that book. Imagine that you are the book and plan a way to introduce yourself. Make the group feel they would like to know you better. Organize your best points into an introduction to present to the class. Be sure to "wear" your cover!
  59. Read the classifieds. Find something a character in your book was looking for or would like. Cut out the classified. Write a short paragraph telling why he or she needs/wants the item. Would the one advertised be a good buy for him or her? Why or Why not?
  60. Create cutout sketches of each character in your novel. Mount the sketches on a bulletin board. Include a brief character sketch telling us about the characters.
  61. Design a symbol for a novel or a certain character.
  62. Gather a large collection of current events that reflect incidents that closely parallel those in your novel.
  63. Write a letter to the author of your novel and explain how you feel about the book.