The children groan as you close the book and begin to give instructions…They know the dreaded book report is coming. When you were planning your novel unit, you likely included a project to wrap things up. However, many of these end up being nothing more than a colorful book report. So how do you find a post-novel activity that serves as book report alternatives?
Much like your pre-reading activities, wrapping up your novel study is a key part of making the learning stick. Making post-novel activities fun and engaging is a large piece of that. That's why I'm sharing some book report alternatives to help you think outside the box.
What you'll find on this page:
10 Novel Study Activities to Wrap up Your Unit
This list is designed with students in mind. I firmly believe there's no point in considering book report alternatives unless you're considering your learners. The students in your class need to have activities that excite them. That's why it is important to consider their interests and passions when you're trying to plan meaningful novel study activities. You'll also want to make sure you incorporate websites and tech tools that are engaging and build 21st Century skills.
With that being said, here's the list of my 10 favorite book report alternatives.
1. Have students extend the story instead of writing a book report.
This option is perfect for your creative writers and is a great fit for many popular novels. Ask students to write about what else happened in their own words.
For some books, this might be adding a chapter that picks up where the story ends. However, that isn't the only option. Many books also have plot holes where students could use their knowledge of the plot to write a scene.
The benefit of taking this approach is it requires students to examine multiple various elements of the novel. They need to have a strong understanding of the plot to make their addition fit the story. Analyzing the plot can encourage students to step into the character's shoes. In turn, they can begin to empathize with characters at a deeper level.
They also need to spend time analyzing the author's writing style. Many times we forget to look at novel units as a chance to teach the author's craft. However, novels can easily serve as mentor texts for writing, too.
Alternatively, students could retell a piece of the book from the perspective of another character. They could even approach it from a totally different point of view. This can help students focus on the plot and feelings without the pressure of developing plot points.
2. Create a commercial as a post-novel activity.
A book commercial is a creative way to have students write about a book. It's different from a book report because the student is trying to persuade others to read the book, without giving away too much of the plot. By creating a short video, reluctant writers can share what they learned from the book.
If you decide to go this route, encourage students to include details about why they liked the book or what makes it stand out. Have them mention if there are any other books in this series or by this author that would be good for people who like this one.
Ideal for your budding filmmakers, ask students to create a visual summary about the best parts of the book. This might include having peers act these out, using stop-motion videography, or even using animation tools (like Powtoon).
Your future marketing gurus may enjoy planning the target market or creating a sales pitch for the book. Similarly, they may use the author's message to explain how the book will change readers' lives.
Adding an imaginary or actual review can also add to their advertisement. Was there a movie made? They could compare their review to a movie review and evaluate how well the story was retold!
3. Have students create character text messages to wrap up their novel unit
Text messaging is a great way to communicate with friends and family, but what if we could use it as an alternative to book reports?
Creating text message threads between characters in a story is a great way to examine character relationships. It can also help students explore plot points from different perspectives. This option is perfect for students who struggle to write long passages, but it is also a great choice for students who struggle to be concise.
By creating a text conversation or a chat on social media, students can analyze the characters and their relationships differently than just describing them. They need to take the perspective of both characters in the conversation to create a believable text thread.
Helping them empathize with the characters will help your students evaluate the plot in a more approachable format than a full book report. Assign chapters to various literature circle groups. Their product can be creating a message that represents their section in detail.
Here are a few great online tools:
4. Design a yearbook as a post-novel activity.
Designing a yearbook as an alternative to writing a book report is a great way to engage learners and provide them with a memorable post-novel activity. For this project, students will create their own yearbook that features personal photos of the characters, summaries of important events in the story, thoughts on what they learned from reading the novel, predictions for what might happen next in the story, and how it relates to real-life issues or problems that exist today.
Creating yearbook pages for the characters will help students sum up their ideas in a short and punchy way. This works best with access to computers, but providing pictures can work for classes without access to technology.
This will help students reflect on the most important parts of the book and why they remember the characters. Drawing out the story elements will help the students analyze how the characters develop the plot.
Particularly creative students might want to write poems to include. This can use quotes and even retell important scenes.
5. Create book jackets as a book report alternative.
A book cover or jacket redesign can help students explain an important part of the plot while allowing their creativity to shine. Encouraging them to illustrate a scene for the front cover will help them take their favorite scene and show how that can encourage people to read the book.
Symbolism is an important, higher-order skill. Allowing your students to put complex ideas into picture form will encourage them to grow their understanding of the plot. Additionally, using the text to create something new is an excellent example of synthesis!
For students who prefer to write, creating a new blurb with a cliffhanger would help them review the book and analyze the plot.
6. Instead of a book report, have students create a character social media profile.
Making a task relevant to students can be a challenge. Using social media opens opportunities for creative writing, graphic design, and acting for videos.
If your students want to focus on Facebook-style writing, they can write a long-form post with pictures and retell the story. Fakebook offers a great digital format for this. A more succinct option would be to ask them for a Tweet instead.
Students who prefer video could create a Snapchat story using pictures or a series of short clips for Tik Tok. Acting as the characters will make students engage with character analysis, copying their mannerisms and how they act.
7. Have students plan an interview for a post-novel activity.
Perfect for writers, an interview with a character can help them think of questions that need to be answered after they’ve finished the novel! Learning to take perspectives will help them analyze the character’s motivations and summarize it in a sound bite.
Instead of simply imagining and writing, students might prefer to work in pairs or small groups and directly ask the questions to their peers. The interviewer can create questions and develop ideas for the interviewees to role play and answer.
Alternatively, they could interview the author and imagine what they might say. You could even encourage them to try and directly contact the author – if they get a response, you can turn this into further analysis!
8. Write a parody after you finish the novel.
Perfect for musical students, writing a parody song of the story will help them focus on the main themes, summarize the content, and fit it into a different format.
Using a popular song, they can rewrite the lyrics to tell the story from one character’s perspective or about the entire plot. If you have a student who loves to perform, they might even create a recording or play it live for their peers!
Teaching students to sequence the important events and how they cause each other is also easier with a song – you don’t have as much time to analyze, so they need to show causation in a clear and snappy way.
9. As a post-novel activity, let students create a comic or graphic novel
Comics and using pictures to explain can help students who struggle to put their ideas into words. You can provide a template for the students to use, pictures for them to base their ideas around, or just let them draw and write everything originally.
Learning to retell a story and sequence their ideas can help them creatively reimagine the story and use art to show what they think was most important. They could also create a symbol for a theme to show underlying, important ideas.
This can be turned into a whole class project by asking students in small groups to each retell a part of the story as a picture and then join them all together to create a giant comic strip. This will require a lot of space for the display!
10. To wrap up the book create a visual or written mind map
For a quick wrap-up activity, you can ask them to mind map the key ideas of the novel. This will help students remember the main events, link them together, and expand on the key ideas.
With effective modelling, you can show students how to bring ideas together and arrange them. For example, you could ask students to create a few sections – themes, problem, solution, characters, setting, and relationship. This will help organize and create connections between ideas.
Working in a group can also help students bring ideas together. Using chart paper will give students space to share ideas and develop understanding. If that isn’t available, you can ask students to put ideas on a post-it and create a post-it mind map on a table or wall.
Book reports aren't designed for today's student.
Although writing a book report as a post-novel activity might show what some students can remember, using a variety of tasks that encourage artistic and creative work will help all students show off what they’ve learned.
Summative assessment is important for showing that students have engaged with the novel and can help them evaluate and analyze. This is excellent for tracking your students' grades and identifying what they need to improve on.
These strategies can be a quick win for adding engagement and interest into your classroom novel unit.
Planning your next novel study?
Grab my free Novel Study Planning Guide below.