I never wrote a book report for In Grandma’s Attic, but nearly thirty years later, I still remember Sarah Jane and Mabel’s antics. This staying power of stories is what makes book reports unnecessary.
What’s the purpose of a book report, anyway?
A classroom teacher needs to make sure each student actually read the book. She can’t have an in-depth conversation about the book with every student. So a book report works in that case.
But the homeschool parent—who has just finished reading aloud a book alongside her child—has the luxury of meaningful conversations about the books.
How Do You Discuss a Book?
As parent-teachers, we tend to make book discussions complicated. We overdrill vocabulary or approach questions as a tool for comprehension, rather than an invitation to talk. But book discussions are meant to be a natural, back-and-forth exchange.
Not sure where to start? Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guide is ready to walk you through each book it schedules, offering conversation prompts, comprehension questions, and cultural and historical context.
7 Book Report Alternatives
Beyond discussions, there are times when you may want a hands-on approach. These ideas can help.
Interview a Character
Invite your children to write down questions they would ask when interviewing a book character. Encourage them to delve into the backstories of characters and contemplate their motivations. Your kids could even compose answers to the interview questions and act it out in a mock talk show format.
Create a LEGO Scene
Ask your students to recreate a key scene from a book using LEGO bricks. Or have them set up several smaller scenes, and let the LEGO minifigures progress through each scene sequentially.
Sketch a Storyboard or Comic Book
Kids with an artistic bent will have fun creating storyboards that recap entire books or individual chapters. They can be as simple and sequential—or as a colorful and complex—as desired. In the process, kids are forced to differentiate between minor details and those which are critical to the overall plot.
Stage a Skit or Dramatic Reading
This idea works especially well for multiple ages, since each student can interpret his part differently. Bonus: Since your kids will have to imagine themselves in the shoes of each character, they practice empathy.
Cook a Book-inspired Dish
This idea scales well as children get older. You can help younger children cook a simple recipe related to the story. Older kids can take on the challenge of creating—and serving—an entire book-inspired meal.
Record a Commercial
Create commercials to advertise the book. Produce these in video format or in audio as if for radio or a podcast.
Write a Newspaper Article
This is a creative way for kids to work together. Younger kids can provide illustrations, and older kids can write about scenes from the book. Compile the results into mini newspaper!
Trust the Process
As you read together with your kids, don’t complicate it. Give them freedom to expand on what they’ve read with the book report alternatives above, but resist the urge to over-explain. Trust the simplicity of the read-aloud process!
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About the Author
Gina Munsey is a Mexico-born, Eastern Europe-raised missionary kid who ended up in Nashville, Tennessee. A blogger for 16+ years, editor, magazine contributor, co-op teacher, and writer who has only completed four chapters of her languishing memoir, Gina spends her days full of coffee and adventures while helping her asynchronous daughter with Chinese homework. You can find Gina at oaxacaborn.com, or in the middle of [home]school surrounded by stacks and stacks of books.