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How to Write a Book Summary
When a teacher or anyone else asks you to write a book summary, he or she is requesting that you read a book and write a short account that explains the main plot points, characters and any other important information in your own words. The reader of your summary should have an understanding of the book without having ever read it. Many teachers and professors ask students to do this to ensure they read and understand the material they’ve assigned. If you’re currently working on your first book summary, here’s how to do it:
Know the Assignment and Choose a Book
Before you get started, you need to know what your teacher expects from you. Did he or she assign a particular book, or can you select you own? you’ll also need to know how long the summary should be. Your teacher may want it to be at least a page or two or so many words so that you can show that you really understood what you read.
Start Reading and Take Notes
As soon as you have the book in hand, whether your teacher assigned it or you chose it yourself, you should grab a pen and notebook to keep with you at all times. Anytime you read a chapter or two, you’ll want to take notes about what you read. Make a list of the characters and their problems and goals. Keep an outline of the plot. Remember, you’re not rewriting the book entirely — just picking out the most important details and retelling them in your voice. You can also make note when you find something interesting or you see something you need to understand better.
Create an Introduction
Once you finish the book, you should have a few pages of notes and a good understanding of what happened, who the main characters were and all of the important plot points. Now, it’s time to start writing the summary. you’ll want to start with a strong introductions that tells the reader exactly what you want them to know. Be straightforward about the title and author of the book and give a general idea in a sentence or two of what it’s about. You may want to introduce a setting here too. For example, if you read “Gone with the Wind,” you may start with something like “Set during the Civil War, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is an epic novel that tells the story of a young Southern woman in Georgia, her love affairs and her attempts to save her family plantation while the South burns down around here.”
Organize Your Notes to Create the Body
Once you’ve introduced the book with a few sentences, it’s time to write the body of the summary. This is where you’ll turn to your notes. If you didn’t create an outline before, now is the time to do so. Organize your points in order in paragraph form. The ultimate goal is for the reader to know exactly what the book was about, even if he or she has never read it. Try putting yourself in the reader of your summary’s shoes. What would you need to know to understand what the book was about? Once you’ve finished the body, add a conclusion that gives the reader an understanding of significance of the book. Did it teach a lesson, or was there a moral to the story? Were there themes present throughout the book?
Edit and Proofread
Once you’ve finished, read over your summary a few times to make sure it makes sense. Not only do you want to check for spelling and grammar errors, but you’ll want to make sure the description flows from point to point and makes sense. Try reading it out loud to yourself to see how it sounds when you hear it. Read it a friend or family member to see if they can provide any feedback. Once you’re certain it’s complete, you can turn it in to your teacher or professor.
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When a teacher or anyone else asks you to write a book summary, he or she is requesting that you read a book and write a short account that explains the main plot points, characters and any other important information in your own words.
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