Alternatives to Book Reports

Book reports! Do you hear that word and just cringe? Because I can almost guarantee your students do! I am a very avid reader and always have been. I was the kid in school that was excited about the assigned reading. But you say book report? And suddenly you’ve lost me. 

There are better ways to analyze and talk about books than book reports, and so many teachers are using these ideas in their own classrooms already! Let’s compile a list so that next time you need to grade your students on reading and analyzing a book, you can do it in style! 

Partner interview: The assignment is simple- The students are paired up and told that their job is to check if their partner has actually read the assigned reading or not. Have them come up with hard questions for each other and let them naturally discuss the book together by testing one another. Let them report back to you whether or not their partner has read the book! 

Book talk: Pull the students aside to have a book talk. Even if you haven’t read the book they chose to read, there are still plenty of questions you can ask to know if they really read it or not. 

Create social media profiles for the book characters: Let them choose the character’s handle, bio, what they would put for their link in their bio, and the first 6-8 pictures on their feed, captions included. 

Rewrite the ending: Instead of writing a book report, let them rewrite the ending of their book in a way they would want to see it end. 

Role-play the book: This is best done in groups, but let them role-play a quick version of the book, give them specific points to include (intro, rising action, climax, resolution, etc), and let their creative juices do the talking. 

Let them extend the story: Want them writing, but also want to avoid a book report? Ask them to continue the story from where it left off. Where would the characters go next? What would the next problem be that they have to solve? How would they solve it? 

What other ways do you avoid book reports in your classroom? Do you find traditional book reports to be effective, or do you prefer alternative options? 

Alternatives to Assigned Reading in High School

This post is specifically for upper grades- middle school and high school- but can be applied to younger grades with some adaptations if needed. 

Assigned reading is a very popular practice in Language Arts/ English classrooms across the nation, but what if there’s a better way? Here are a few alternatives to getting your students reading, but without the dreaded assigned books. 

For individual reading: 

Offer a large list of books for them to choose from. If there are certain guidelines or books you have to stay within the parameters of, this is a great option. It keeps you within the guidelines but gives the students their own choice in the literature they are reading. 

Do a one-on-one book report discussion. If the goal is for the student to read and comprehend a book, this works beautifully. Let them choose a book that interests them and schedule a day or two where you take students aside during independent work time to discuss the book with them and verify that they read it. Ask provoking questions about the characters and the plot. Even if you haven’t read every single book, teachers are typically pretty good at spotting those telling the truth and those wanting to fib a bit. 

For classroom reading involving the whole class: 

Have a class discussion and vote. If you’re choosing a book for the whole class to read, why not allow the students to bring suggestions to the table, discuss together, and vote? Keep in mind, books are books! Every suggestion is valid and worth bringing to the table. Yes, even comic books! 

Similarly, allow students to choose a book and defend it. Let the student or group of students choose the book for the next classroom read (again, all books are valid!). Give them a chance to build their case on their specific book and take turns defending their choice to the rest of the class on why their book should be chosen. This activity can be done in a day or it can be drug out over several days depending on how in-depth you want to go! 

What do you do in your classroom to find ways to bring out students’ voices in choosing books to read? 

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels