How To Write a Book Report: 8 Helpful Steps

Are you curious about how to write a book report? Then, look at some of the most important steps below, and learn how to write a particular book report.

You may not have written a book report or review since your last high school English class, but it is a great way to summarize everything that happens in a book for someone else. There are numerous reasons why you may need to write book reports. Perhaps you are taking a college-level English class or running a website where book reports are published regularly. Regardless, a strong book report should have a few critical pieces of information.

First, there should be a strong summary of the main book, highlighting some main points and events. It should also have a strong thesis statement, mention the main characters, and have body paragraphs that summarize the book from start to finish.

Materials You Need

Before you start to write book reports, you need to make sure you have the necessary materials. They include:

  • Pencils and pens
  • Plenty paper
  • Your chosen book
  • You may want access to a computer with an internet connection.

Then, once you have the necessary materials, you can start the writing process.

Step 1: Review the Requirements

Before writing the book report, you should look at the assignment’s details. Not every book report will be a simple summary of the book. Some of the essential points you need to look for in your book report assignment include:

  • How much of the summary of the book report should be devoted to summarizing the plot points versus an analysis of the major themes?
  • What type of topics are you asked to write about? For example, are you supposed to present your point of view of the story? Or are you trying to be objective?
  • You should also take a look at the research component of the assignment. For example, do you need to include MLA citations? Or are you expected to do the whole thing using just the book?

Don’t forget to look at the nuts and bolts of the assignment. Think about what size font you should use, how long the paper is supposed to be, and whether it should be single or double-spaced. Of course, don’t forget to note the due date as well. 

Step 2: Read the Book

How to write a book report: Read the book
Before you can even think about what to include in the book report, you need to read the book

Of course, the most crucial step is for you to read the entire book from cover to cover. Before you can even think about what to include in the book report, you need to read the book. Try to find a quiet place in which you can concentrate. As you read, think about the book report itself. You need to take note of essential plot points, note the main characters, and figure out their relationships with each other. You may want to take a break from time to time.

For example, you may want to read for 15 minutes, take a break, write down a few important events, and then return to the book. It would help if you devoted your entire attention to the book. Skimming the book will not be enough. Of note, you should not trust online book summaries if you have a book report to write. There is no guarantee that the summary will be accurate, and it may not be an accurate reflection of what is included in the text.

Furthermore, most teachers can tell the difference between someone who has read the book and someone who has read an online summary. So read the book before you start writing the book report. 

Step 3: Outline the Main Events 

Once you have finished reading the book, it is time to outline the significant events. Remember that you can add more information about the major events later. It is simply essential to get them on the page. That way, you know you won’t miss anything. As you take note of the significant events, remember to note the characters involved in them. If you have an excellent example of something that fits with the structure of your book report assignment, you may want to highlight it using a highlighter.

For example, in reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven, you may want to note the main characters, who they are, and their roles. The outline may appear as follows:

  • Joseph Corvelzchik: 
  • Ruby: 
  • Eddie: 
  • Eddie’s Father: 
  • Marguerite:

Then, next to each character, you will indicate why they are essential, their role in the story, and their relationships with each other and the narrator. 

Step 4: Fill in the Details 

Once all the information is on the page, it is time to fill in the details. Now, your outline should turn into a paragraph-by-paragraph listing explaining how the paper will be organized. You should expect your outline to change a bit as you proceed. Once you realize how many details you need to cover, you will figure out how much information you want to include in your plot summary. Depending on the covered information, you may need to rearrange some of your paragraphs. Writing itself often leads to some significant realizations.

Here is an example of how your book report might change. For example, if you are covering the book titled, The Killer Angels, which focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg, you may have an outline that appears as below:

  • July 1, 1863: The main events that happened on July 1.
  • July 2, 1863: The main events that happened on July 2.
  • July 3, 1863: The main events that happened on July 3.

Then, as you get going, you made me realize it makes more sense to outline or structure your book report based on the characters’ actions. Therefore, you may change your book report to match the following:

  • Robert E. Lee: The battle from his point of view.
  • James Longstreet: The battle from his point of view.
  • Joshua Chamberlain: The battle from his point of view.

This is precisely why you need to outline your book before you start to write it. It is much easier for you to change an outline than it is for you to change the entire book report. If you feel you need to change the structure of your book report, now is the time to do so.

Step 5: Cover Major Plot Points 

Once you have filled in the details underneath each paragraph in your book report, you need to ensure you have not missed anything important. Of course, the book report is not meant to cover every single detail of the book, but it is expected to be a practical summary. So is there anything significant in the book that you may have left out?

For example, if you are writing a book report on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you need to make sure that you cover some of the most significant events. A few examples include:

  • Jim runs away because he thinks he is going to be sold.
  • Huck lies to people because he is trying to hide the fact Jim is a runaway.
  • The King turns in Jim as a runaway.

While there are other significant events in the book, these are a few examples of things you need to include in your book report. If your book report omits any of them, you may want to go back and look closely at how you may need to change the report itself. 

Step 6: Add Quotes 

You may want to include quotes from the text to strengthen your book report. Quotes are a great way to demonstrate that you have not only read the book but also have an intimate understanding of what the book is about. For example, if you have been asked to write a book report on Outliers, there are a few quotes that you may want to include. A few examples are as follows:

  • “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”
  • “Success is not a random act. Instead, it arises from a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”
  • “We overlook just how large a role we all play–and by ‘we’ I mean society–in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.”

These quotes are very different, so that you can work them into your book report in different places. So make sure to have a few quotes you can include in your book report. 

Step 7: Highlight Themes 

Now that the plot has been effectively summarized, you should highlight any of the major themes that appeared in the book if the assignment asks you to do so. Themes can come from a variety of areas. For example, you may want to talk about how the book’s setting influences the overall theme itself. Or, you may want to talk about how the attitudes or perspectives of the characters evolve as the book unfolds.

You can also discuss how the book’s historical context influences the plot points. For example, if you are reading the book Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, you might want to talk about how racial prejudice is a significant theme throughout the book. It is evident that the historical context of this book plays a role in how racism is presented, and you may want to talk about how the main characters are a microcosm for more significant swaths of society throughout the story. Then, you may want to try to pull out some of the more minor themes. This could be an excellent way to complete the book report’s analytical section. 

Step 8: Proofread and Cite Your Work

Finally, it is time to review your book report to ensure all the essential information is included. For example, you should probably mention the title of the book, the type of book you are summarizing, the author’s name, and the date it was published. In addition, you may want to mention if it is a fiction or a non-fiction book. Finally, do not forget that proofreading is also integral to your book report. Ensure the introductory paragraph includes a thesis statement, review if headings are necessary, and ensure you haven’t made any grammar or spelling mistakes. This is a critical part of essay writing and middle school, high school, and college.

Then, take a look at the template of the assignment. See if you are supposed to include MLA or APA citations. If you have been asked to include citations, double-check to ensure they have been appropriately listed. Your book report format can vary from grade to grade level, so ensure you follow the structure accordingly. If your book report checks all the boxes above, then you should have a great book report in front of you. Review it one more time to ensure it flows well from paragraph to paragraph, and then you should be ready to turn it in. 

Looking for more? Check out our article including the top ten authors with their book recommendations!


  • Meet Rachael, the editor at Become a Writer Today. With years of experience in the field, she is passionate about language and dedicated to producing high-quality content that engages and informs readers. When she's not editing or writing, you can find her exploring the great outdoors, finding inspiration for her next project.