Whether you’re teaching a whole-class novel, or finishing a round of independent reading or literature circles, post-reading assessments are always more engaging when they’re more than just a test or essay.
Below, you’ll discover a dozen fun book report ideas for your middle or high school ELA students, curated by a team of experienced English teachers.
Choose your favorite projects to offer to students as options on a book report project choice board.
Create a Board Game
When I gave “create a board game about the book you read” as a book report option for my students, I was pleasantly surprised at the results! Quite a few students excitedly chose this option and created some really fun-looking games centered on their books.
This is a great project choice if you’re looking for something that students can’t create by just Googling the book.
Here are some tips and suggestions for assigning a board game book report:
- Give clear parameters and requirements to keep students on track, such as requiring game elements to represent certain literary elements of the book they read.
- Provide suggestions for game components and materials – encourage students to consider the game play and elements of their favorite board games and to use materials they already have at home to create them.
- For a whole-class novel study, consider allowing students to work in teams to create the novel-based board games, then setting aside a class period for students to play each others’ games and see who wins!
If you’re looking to save time… clear directions handouts, lots of suggestions, and a handy grading rubric for a board game post-reading assessment are all included in this resource. Take a look!
For more independent reading response ideas, check out this post with ideas for fun post-reading projects.
Create a Journey Box
Engaging students in authentic conversations about books is a passion for Carolyn of Middle School Café. In traditional oral book reports, students simply get up in front of the class and read a summary of the book they read. Carolyn found this method of oral book reports painful for both her and her students.
Wanting to find a way to help her students talk about their book and keep her class engaged, Carolyn began incorporating Journey Box Book Reports. A journey box is a shoebox (or bag) that contains artifacts from the story that help the reader share important events from the story.
Students predetermine what events of the story are most important to share, then they create an artifact to share with the class or small group as they explain the plot. As an example, Carolyn had a student who read The Diary of Anne Frank. He created a small 3D tree that he displayed on the desk as he shared about how Anne looked out the window and dreamed of her former life. It’s a small piece of the story that helps the student explain the plot point and gives the audience something visual to look at and stay engaged.
Journey Box Book Reports have been successful for Carolyn in both her middle school and high school classrooms. She does suggest, if using Journey Boxes in older grades, to have students share their stories in small groups.
Create a Literary Food Truck
If there’s one thing kids love, it’s food – especially high schoolers – and with this in mind, one of Simply Ana P’s favorite ways to recap a class novel or an independent reading unit is with Literary Food Trucks. This is definitely not a new idea, but it’s one that will have you coming back for seconds 🙂
Ana first tried this project at the end of The Odyssey, where students were able to decide which book(s) they wanted to make the focus of their trucks. The main requirement was that every single choice made had to be intentional and clearly relevant. With this in mind, students could start the planning process.
You can make the truck’s requirements as simple or as detailed as you prefer, but Ana recommends having students plan:
- Truck name, design, and branding colors
- Menu design and items (5 items minimum)
- Employee uniforms
Ana includes a writing component by having her students defend all of their selections in the form of a proposal. This is later used in their presentations, and the better (more intentional) their proposal is, the more likely they will win the class vote. This proposal can be anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages, depending on what writing goals you have for them, and should definitely include text evidence.
Part of the beauty of this type of project is that it can be done digital or paper-based. Ana likes to walk her students through a Canva tutorial, where there are even menu templates that students can use so they don’t feel overwhelmed starting from scratch. Or, for more creative students, they can create their trucks on chart paper, poster board, or even 3D dioramas.
After students finish making their food trucks, it’s always fun to take a day for the in-class Food Festival, where students are invited to bring in items from their menus or simply some type of snacks. Some students get super hype about this day and even make/wear aprons or themed employee uniforms. Students are able to walk around, visiting each of their trucks, and casting their votes for Best Food, Most Relevant, and Most Detailed. Have fun and bon appetit!
Create a Mood Board
It can be hard to come up with creative post-reading assessments for your students when they’re done with a full class novel, literature circles, or a choice reading unit. In an attempt to combine 21st century skills with literary analysis, Samantha from Samantha in Secondary decided to try something a little different. Enter: The Mood Board.
A mood board combines images to elicit a feeling from a viewer much like a writer does with words. The possibilities for using a mood board with your class are endless. Students can create a mood board for an overall book, a character, an event, a theme, a poem, etc. Then, have your students carefully curate a board that is aesthetically pleasing and considers color, space, and design in the execution. As students explain why they’ve made the choices they have, the upper-level thinking comes naturally.
Canva is an excellent tool to use to create your mood boards. Having students interact with software they may be unfamiliar with is a meaningful learning experience in and of itself. If you want to learn more about how to use mood boards in your own classroom, click here to read Samantha’s blog post about it or check out the resource she created that includes done-for-you student instructions, examples, and a rubric here.
Create a New App
How would a character’s life change if there was just the perfect app to solve their conflict??
This is the question Krista from @whimsyandrigor poses to her students as they finish a novel and begin to reflect on the character’s journey. Students begin by discussing all of the details surrounding the protagonist and what they experienced. In small groups and in whole-class discussions, students discuss the conflicts, both internal and external, and then brainstorm all of the realistic and not-so-realistic ways the character could have addressed their problems.
Once students have generated a healthy list of ideas, Krista tells them they get to become an app developer and they must create an app that would greatly benefit a character from their reading.
The requirements are:
- The app cannot already exist.
- The app can be totally unrealistic/not probable.
- The app developer must be able to explain how its features would benefit the character.
- The developer must also create an icon for the App Store.
Here is a print-and-go handout students use to get designing.
Here are some example apps students could create: to help Will from Jason Reynolds’s Long Way Down, maybe an app that predicts his future would help him decide what to do once he steps off the elevator. Or maybe Romeo from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet would have benefited from a life-detection app that would accurately determine whether or not someone was actually dead.
When students sette on the conflict they want to address and the app that would help, they write a Spill the TEA paragraph, as explained by Krista in this YouTube video. Using this paragraph organization strategy, students will introduce their app, use evidence to explain how it is necessary for the character, and explain how the app would have benefited or changed the protagonist’s journey.
Now they get to be a graphic designer as they design the app’s icon. Students may want to peruse the actual App Store to get ideas about how an icon is designed, what elements must be present, and how to create something that is eye-catching.
If space allows, Krista encourages you to display the icons and Spill the TEA paragraphs in the hallway for other students to see the in-depth critical thinking and character analysis your students did after finishing a novel.
Who says technology is only a distraction for our students?! This activity proves technology can help students dive deep into a text and its characters!
Write a Vignette
Lesa from SmithTeaches9to12 often focuses on character-based activities for novel studies including a character profile activity, character conversations through text messages, or the writing of a good vignette.
Vignettes can be a great way to assess students’ literary analysis skills and understanding of the text. Students write a short piece of about 500 words that is descriptive of a particular moment in time focusing on one of the book’s characters. These moments could be placing the character in a new setting, writing about a particular moment in the story that was less developed, or even extending to a moment beyond the book’s conclusion. Lesa provides students with some mentor texts, including “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros in The House on Mango Street or “The Prisoner Van” by Charles Dickens in Sketches by Boz or even one from a novel being read in class. Review the stories for structure, language choice, sentence structure, use of figurative language, and so on. This helps to co-create the criteria for the assignment. Then students write their own vignette. Build in some peer review as an accountability piece and voila!
Create a Character Collage
It’s safe to say that most English teachers have a bin of cut-up magazines somewhere in their classrooms. While these tattered copies of People and Us Weekly have definitely seen better days, they live on in the many collage creations of our students.
Katie from Mochas and Markbooks loves to use collages as visual representations of comprehension. After reading a novel or short story, creating a character collage to show how a character has evolved from beginning to end requires students to use higher order thinking skills to analyze, synthesize and demonstrate their understanding of characterization by dividing their page in half and choosing words and images to represent the character at the start and conclusion of the story on each side.
The results will show the depth of your students’ interpretation of character as well as their ability to use critical and creative thinking skills to represent their knowledge.
Other ways to use this idea instead of showing character evolution are to show two different sides to a character, for example, who they are with different people in their lives.
If you are looking for other ways to incorporate collage and magazines into your post-reading assessments, check out this blog post for more ideas!
Design Shoe Charms
Crocs are not Olivia’s shoe of choice, but when she noticed her students bedazzling their plastic footwear with shoe charms, it was a learning opportunity she just couldn’t pass up. Here’s how to make it work in your classroom:
First, have your students choose a character from the book they have finished reading. Then encourage them to find quotes from the book that reveal the character’s interests, values, or personality. Once they have found their quotes (she has her students find 4), tell them to design and color shoe charms that represent those interests, values, or personality traits. This helps students with inferencing, textual evidence, and even symbolism!
When your students have finished making their shoe charms, they can either tape the charms to their shoes for a fabulous, foot-themed fashion show, or they can glue them to a picture of a Croc for quirky classroom décor. Check out this Instagram post to see the charms Olivia’s students came up with!
Create a Movie Poster
When was the last time you went to the movies? Did you notice the posters along the way? If yes then you have walked down the movie studio promotional lane. Like trailers, studios create movie posters to grab the attention of movie-goers before they even enter the theater. Yes, you may have already purchased your movie ticket, but those posters were created for the future. After you finish watching Sonic 2, what movie will you see next? You probably already pointed to that poster on the way into the theater and said, “That looks like it is going to be good. I want to see that!”
As a post reading idea, Sharena from The Humble Bird Teacher has her students create movie posters based on the text read in class. This allows her to complete a formative assessment on what the students learned from the text. Before having her class create a movie poster, she shows them examples of posters from different genres such as drama, action, family-friendly, and comedy. Then she hands out a piece of construction paper and goes over the basic requirements. On the movie poster, the students are required to have their actors names or image (characters), the title of the movie, a visual (setting or symbol from the story), and a tagline, and a short two to three sentence summary of the movie. Once her students are finished with the assignment, she displays them outside the classroom, so the students can have their own movie studio promotional lane. If you are looking for more after reading ideas, click here.
Try Novel Engineering
Whether you’ve been hoping to collaborate with another department, or just really want to try something new, Novel Engineering is an amazing way to get students thinking outside of the box! Staci from Donut Lovin’ Teacher has found that Novel Engineering requires students to actively comprehend and interact with a novel and get creative about how to help improve the lives of characters! Basically, students work to create a product that will help solve a character’s problem. Here’s how it works…
Before reading: Choose a narrative text where the character faces tangible conflicts. Model and practice the design process in small ways. Try using picture books like Mucha! Muncha! Mucha! in order for students to see and practice what they’ll be doing with a text at grade-level.
While reading: Emphasize the conflicts characters face and give students time to brainstorm possible products that would help solve said problem. Make sure students record evidence from the text so they can later justify the need for the product they design.
After reading: Give students time to draft, craft, and improve their designs that will help solve a problem faced by a character. You can give students options where they draw their creation, make their creation, or even plan a digital app like this, depending on time and resources. Whatever you choose, students will be sure to be pushed to use some skills they may not always practice in an ELA classroom!
Staci has some FREE Novel Engineering Digital Planning Pages or you can read more about her experience with novel engineering on the Donut Lovin’ Teacher blog.
Create a Tik Tok Video
How many times have you passed a group of students filming a TikTok in a hallway? Have you had students ask to film in your class once they finish assignments? You are not alone. Students love TikTok and Yaddy from Yaddy’s Room has figured out how to get students using TikTok for academic purposes!
Yaddy likes to challenge students to create TikTok videos that track a character’s development, encapsulates the main theme of the story, or that exemplifies a key conflict. These easy, low stress videos are great at getting even reluctant students to participate.
To incorporate TikTok videos as a means of assessing students after a novel or story, try the following steps:
1) Get students to brainstorm which part of the novel they would like to use for their video.
2) Ask students to start combing TikTok for an audio that fits with the portion of the text they chose
3) Ask them to plan out how they will realize their vision
4) Rehearse and film!
5) Bonus: ask students to upload their videos to Google Drive and share the link with you so that you can make QR codes to post around your classroom!
Want to get started using TikTok videos for book reports? Check on Yaddy’s free planning sheet here!