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How to Teach Second-Graders to Write Book Reports

by Maria Magher, studioD

In second grade, children should be able to write opinion, informative and narrative pieces, according to the Common Core Standards. Book reports offer students an opportunity to practice their informative writing through a synopsis of a book. Some teachers may assign a book for the report, but others may allow students to pick their own books for the project. Book reports give students the opportunity to practice writing skills and deepen their understanding of a book.

Note Taking

Before students can write a book report, they have to read the book. Active note taking can help them to process the information as they read it and to remember key points or actions in the story. Encourage students to write notes as they read, including short sentences about the major events and significant characters. Notes can be as simple as "Harry found out his dog ran away" or "Jane has blond hair and is a writer." Students can review their notes when they start their book report, making it easier for them to recall important information.

Parts of the Story

When students write their book reports, they will have to talk about important parts of the story, such as setting, plot and character. However, they first need to understand what the important parts of the story are and how to identify them. Explain that setting is where and when the story takes place, the main characters are those who are doing most of the action, and the plot is the series of events that take place in the story. When discussing plot, explain that conflict is a problem the characters have to solve, and conflict is what moves the story forward.


Outlines help writers organize their thoughts, and they can be useful for any type of writing in any grade level. Explain to students that an outline for a book report should include an introduction, a description of the setting, a description of the main characters, a summary of the plot and a conclusion. The outline should include headings for each of these sections, and under each heading, instruct students to write one or two sentences about the information they will include.

Writing the Report

The outline is a blueprint for writing, so once that's finished, students should only need to fill in the information and make the ideas flow together. Explain to students that the introduction should include the title of the book, a one-sentence summary of what it's about, and a sentence about why the student chose it. Each of the remaining paragraphs will fill in details about the book, according to the outline. Instruct students to end with a conclusion that shares their opinions about the book or the characters.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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