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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Why the Emphasis on Book Reports?


Elementary book reports help prepare students for their high school writing. To ease them into it we provide a lot of help in the first and second quarters.

Why do our students have to do book reports?

We feel that the book reports are a great way to introduce thematic writing to students, especially since we give them so much help in the first and second quarters. They get a sense of how 4 or 5 paragraph essays are done, and that they aren’t too overwhelming.

It’s a great way to help prepare them for the writing they will be doing in high school. They also get the student thinking about how we can learn things from even fictional reading.

My student just cannot get into any of the books listed for the book reports. Can he do a different book? What books can we choose from?

This varies by grade and quarter, but you actually have a lot of choices. For the first two-quarters of 2nd and 3rd Grade, the books are sent to you, and the help in the lesson plans is specifically tied to those books. It is the same for 4th Grade, first quarter.

For 3rd and 4th quarters, in grades 2 and 3, at the end of the reading lesson plans, there is a supplemental reading list. You may choose any book from this list, but if none suit you, you can actually choose ANY book as long as it is on grade level for your student. If you are unsure, please contact the grading department at Seton.

For our 4th Grade reading students, the first quarter book report is on the novel The Small War of Sergeant Donkey. Your student is given very detailed instructions throughout the quarter for how to write a book report from our Book Report Handbook. You will not be turning this report into us, but there is a test on writing the report. For the second quarter of 4th, and the first and second quarters of Grades 5-8, you have a choice of novels for those two quarters.

This year we added two more novels to each grade, bringing the total to 6 choices for each grade. You can pick which books you want when enrolling. When you receive your books, if you find one of them doesn’t suit the student, you may choose any of the remaining books. You can either order it from us or find it at your local library.

For grades 4-8, in the 3rd and 4th quarters, the book does need to be a saint biography. There are nine titles to choose from when you enroll.

However, if none suit your student, you are free to choose another saint biography from a different series if you wish – just make sure it is at the appropriate grade level. If you have any questions about this, you may call or email either the counselors or the graders.

It is worth noting that in high school and college, the students will often be required to read books that they have not chosen themselves, or even enjoy reading, and write essays on them. We are giving you some choices in your books, and hope you will find it to be a good selection.

Do you have any suggestions for actually writing the book reports? We always leave it for last, and it feels like they are always looming over us.

The lesson plans for grades 4-8 now include a separate Book Report Handbook, which should be very helpful when your students are writing their book reports. The other grades include all the book report information in the reading lesson plans.

There is a brief overview of each book within these pages. Take the time to read that, and then also read the introductory paragraph that you will be using to write the book report. This will give you an idea of what you’re writing about, and what you should be looking for when reading. For example, in Heidi, the book report talks about ways the characters in the book exhibit Christian values.

While reading the book, keep a sticky note or other pieces of paper in the book and have the child mark the page number whenever he sees a character showing Christian virtues. Also, if you look at the resources on your MySeton page, there are review questions for each chapter. Usually these questions lead the student to think about the themes in the book. Go over these questions with him as he is reading the book, and the examples for his writing just may jump out at him!

Can I still get a grade for reading if we don’t do the book reports?

Unfortunately not. We feel that they are important and an integral part of our reading curriculum. If you do not turn in the book reports, you will not receive a grade for reading.

We’ve done all these things, and still not overly excited about reading and writing book reports. Do you have any suggestions for the summer?

Yes! Consider taking part in Seton’s Summer Reading Club! There is a recommended book list, but you can also choose any books you like. Your child gives a brief presentation to you, the parent, and you keep track of the books read.

When he gets to a certain number, just click to request a certificate. If you want to add prizes or incentives like the library does, that’s entirely up to you. You might even suggest that your child read some of the books that he will be doing for his book report next year to get a jump on them!

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