Are you looking for a new and different way to put a spin on the classic “book report?” This activity will enable your child to practice important literary skills such as summarizing, identifying main characters and events, sequencing, and writing a critique of what she has read. She'll be using her creativity and her writing and drawing skills, while building up those always-important critical thinking faculties that she'll use in many years to come. This is an excellent activity to complete over a holiday, during summer break, or as a Back to School project. The best part is, all of the items she'll need to complete this project are probably already in your home!
What You Do:
- Upon completion of a favorite novel or story, your child can use this activity to “sum up" the book and let others know about her opinion of what she has just read. Begin by having her decorate the front of the file folder with the title and author of the book, her name and a colorful picture about the book using the crayons or markers.
- Next, have her write a summary of the book on the lined paper. For her summary she should think about the main events and characters of the story, and try to give a brief but clear account of these points as well as the overall theme. Her summary should be no longer than one side of a page of lined paper. When she is finished, help her glue it on the inside, left side of the folder.
- On a half-sheet of unlined paper (cut horizontally), have her draw and label an important event or fact from the book. Title it “Important Event" or "Important Fact," followed by a few words that say what this important event is. For example: "Important Event - Tabatha runs away from home." Once she has completed her drawing, glue it on the inside of the folder at the top of the right side.
- On a half-sheet of line paper (cut horizontally), have her write her opinion of the book. This can include what she enjoyed about the book, what she disliked about the book, and any possible suggestions she might have for the author. You may want to brainstorm with her what she thought of the book in order to help get her thoughts clear and organized before she begins to write. She can title it, "My Review" or "My Opinion" and if she likes, she can even give the book a star rating just like the real book reviewers do, with 5 stars being the best and no stars being the worst. When she's finished, help her glue it on the inside of the folder at the bottom right side, under the important event or fact.
- The final step is to have her draw and label the characters or subject of the book on the back of the folder. This is another opportunity to allow her to visually show her understanding of what she has read instead of writing it, as is usually the case in the traditional book report format. She'll be demonstrating her comprehension and understanding through her worlds as well as through her drawings.
- Upon completion of the story folder, have her share it with her family members and friends. Have the friend or family member read the folder with her and ask her three questions about the book. This will give her yet another chance to demonstrate her comprehension skills and opinions of her reading in yet another way, this time by speaking aloud.
This is great way to summarize a book in a creative, original and artistic manner! What's more, this is the perfect activity for your child to prepare for the new school year.
Victoria Hoffman, M.A., is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.