Students should identify the setting of the novel and explain why the setting is important.
- How are the time and place significant to the events of the story?
- How does the setting contribute to the overall meaning of the novel?
Beginning with the protagonist and then moving on to the supporting characters, students should discuss the characterizations in their novel.
- Is the character well-developed, or are they a stock or stereotypical character?
- Is the character static (unchanging throughout the story) or dynamic (changes by the end of the novel)?
- What personality traits does the character possess, and how does this affect the outcome of the novel?
- Do the character's inner thoughts and feelings reflect their outward actions? Explain.
3. POINT OF VIEW
Students should identify the novel’s point of view and why it is significant.
- What advantages does telling the story in (first person/second person/third person) have? Why?
- Why do you think the author chose this point of view?
What is the primary conflict in the novel? Is it human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. society, or human vs. themselves? Your students should delve into conflict much more deeply than they may have in the past. If their story has more than one major conflict, they should detail the additional conflicts as well.
- Explain the conflict and how the protagonist deals with it.
- Does the protagonist overcome the conflict? Or do they succumb to it?
Students should identify the theme of the novel and the specific meaning of the book they chose. They should avoid stock themes such as “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and think more critically on their author’s message.
- What was the author’s purpose in writing the book?
What are the symbols in the novel and how are they significant?
- How do the symbols help develop the story and contribute to the overall meaning of the book?
Students should identify the foreshadowing in their novel and give examples from the text.
- Did you know what was going to come? Why?
- Were there any hints as to what might occur?
- Why do you think the author chose to use or not use foreshadowing?
Finally, students should evaluate the ending of the book.
- Was the ending justified? (Was the ending viable and believable?)
- Was it a satisfactory ending that fit the rest of the novel?
- Was there a catharsis of some kind? Explain.
If your students follow this structure in their book report, it will help them explore each of the elements of fiction in a very specific way. As Barile discovered in her decades of teaching: “Students who explain, interpret, and synthesize what they have read gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of literature.”
Shop great classroom titles for book reports below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store.