Six Alternatives To Book Reports

Six Alternatives To Book Reports

This article written by John Spencer on his blog on September 22, 2014 offers some interesting ways to engage students in writing book reports using digital tools.  

Posted by Sherwen Mohan

Original Source 

When I was a kid, I hated book reports. I hated filling out a form describing what I read. I wasn’t a fan of artsy crafty alternatives, like cereal box projects or dioramas. What I did love, though, was geeking out on what I read. I loved arguing about who was better, what they should have done, etc. I loved making mash-ups and fan fiction. So, with that in mind, I have created some visual writing ideas that are alternatives to the standard book report. This allows students to explore their favorite trends in books.

What makes this fun is that kids get to rethink the role of the setting in the book. Sometimes it helps to start with a simpler question like, “How did the setting shape the character?” However, this is a more creative variant of that question. I love the notion of universes colliding and characters exploring their shared experiences.

I’ve always thought it would be cool if Ira Glass would interview the entire Weasely family. The antagonist is arrested at the end of the book. Write a question-and-answer interrogation. 

Write a review. Consider things like the plot and pacing (did it keep you engaged?), the characters (did they actually develop and were they realistic?) the setting (was it a place you would wand to be?), and the author’s writing style.

A Few More 

I have a few other ideas that I’ve never tested out. I’m not sure if they would work well. Create a TED Talk from the perspective of one of the characters.

Enter the world of your story and write an editorial about the character’s actions.
Look at the Periodic Table of Storytelling and identify the tropes.
Write a movie pitch for your book. Explain how the movie will be similar and different and why it might work well in that format. Just add ninjas. Retell the story with ninjas. How does that change the work?

If you find the visual writing ideas intriguing, they are part of a larger social publishing platform called Write About. We haven’t launched yet, but when we do, we’ll be taking student publishing to a whole new level.

John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler. He is the co-author of Wendell the World’s Worst Wizard and the co-founder of Write About. He is passionate about helping students develop into better writers and deeper thinkers.

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