Parents can remember a time when they had to write a book report in elementary school as a child. Depending on the student, being assigned a book report isn't always something a student looks forward to. According to Common Core State Standards, fifth grade is the year that students need to really practice their book report writing skills, as students are evaluated on how well they can write a piece based on information they gather from literature or other texts. In a teacher's eyes, one of the best ways to do this is by assigning a project, which can be fun and exciting if students are able to follow a few tips on writing a book report!

Choose a Book

The first step in writing a fifth grade book report is to, of course, choose a book! In some cases, the teacher will tell students which book they need to read, especially if students are all required to write a book report on a book read aloud in class. They may also tell the students which book to choose based on a certain topic the class is currently studying. Otherwise, a teacher may suggest to students which books are appropriate for them, or if the teacher trusts the student's abilities, they may say that the student is free to choose whichever book he or she wants.

Create a Story Map

After choosing a book, students will need to identify the key elements of the story they are reading. The easiest way to do this is with a story map. A story map provides space for students to write the title of the book, the author and illustrator's name, the genre, the setting, the characters, the main idea as well as the problem and solution in the story. For a fifth grade book report, the story map may be more extensive and detailed depending on the reading level of the student, and they may need to go into more depth on the story's plot, their reaction to the story, how they felt while reading it, etc. After the story map is completely filled out, students should have an easy time writing their book report because most of the information they need is already in front of them.

Understand the Objective of the Book Report

In many cases, teachers may simply ask their students to write a book report as a general summary of what they've read. But, since fifth graders need to build up their writing and text analysis skills, teachers may also dictate to students what they expect from the book report.

There are different kinds of book reports that students can write, including, but not limited to, a plot summary, a character analysis or a piece discussing the major themes in the story. Students in fifth grade may also be asked to compare two texts by the same author in their book report or make a self-to-text connection in which they compare an experience in their own lives to the experiences of the characters in the story. Students must understand the book report objective before going ahead.

Write Your Book Report Outline

With the story map in hand and the objective understood, students can now begin to write their book report outline. The outline helps students to construct their ideas one by one while seeing where they can string them together. Students can start their outline by creating several headings: introduction, at least three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Under each heading, students should write bullet points pulled from their story map along with supporting details from the text.

Afterward, each body paragraph can have a different heading based on the objective of the book report. For instance, if the book report is a character analysis, then the first body paragraph can be an introduction to the character and their role in the story, while the second body paragraph can discuss the character's personality and their actions throughout the book. Finally, the third body paragraph can be about how the student relates to the character or how they feel about the character by the end of the story. Because this is just an outline, each body paragraph can be given a heading, and underneath, the student can list bullet points of what they want to say, along with a quote or example from the text to support their writing.

Lastly, the conclusion should be somewhat of a reiteration of the introductory paragraph, with the student wrapping up their book report in a few sentences.

Things to Keep in Mind

To begin writing, students can use their teacher's guidelines, story map and book report outline to write their fifth grade book report. It's important to remember that although parents may want to help, students need to take the time to work on the book report by themselves. After the book report is complete, students should go back and read it out loud to themselves, in order to check for any mistakes and to make sure the writing flows nicely and isn't too choppy.

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