How to Write a Great 6th Grade Book Summary

How to Write a Great 6th Grade Book Summary

 Part 1: Book Basics

Give us great information about the book itself. No, not information about what happens in the book – we want to know about the book.  Information could include:

  • · The publication date
  • · The genre
  • · The basic theme
  • · Other books in the series (or other books with similar themes this author’s written)
  • · Awards the book has been nominated for or won
  • · The audience the book is intended for
  • · The popularity of the book (is it a bestseller?)
  • · Was it made into a movie, a video game, toys, TV shows, cartoons?
  • · What’s your opinion of the book?
  • · If there’s an illustrator, who was it?

 Here’s an example I’ve written for my book summary:

 The Lightning Thief is a fantastic fantasy story by Rick Riordan. It is a story of Greek Mythology set in modern times. Written in 2004, The Lighting Thief is book one in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The book won the Rebecca Caudill award, and the Percy Jackson books have been nominated for dozens of other awards. The Percy Jackson books are all on the New York Times bestseller list, and the series has become one of the most popular kids’ book series since Harry Potter.


Part 2: Author Info

Now it’s time to tell us some more about the person who wrote your book.  Information about the author could include:

  • · why/how they came up with the idea
  • · jobs they’ve had before writing
  • · where they’re from, especially if that has anything to do with the setting of the book you read
  • · other books they’ve written
  • · family or friends that influenced or impacted their writing
  • · or a million other things.

 Here’s an example:

Rick Riordan is a former middle school teacher from Texas. He used to teach Greek Mythology to his students, and he told the myths to his son as bedtime stories. One night he ran out of Greek stories to tell his son, so his son asked him to make one up.  Riordan began telling the story of a boy in modern times that meets all sorts of heroes, monsters, and gods from the Ancient Greek tales. Eventually, Riordan wrote the stories down and they became the Percy Jackson books. The character Percy Jackson has many things in common with Riordan’s son, including learning problems like ADHD and dyslexia. Rick Riordan is also the author or The Red Pyramid and 39 Clues.


Part 3: The Protagonist

This section is all about your book’s protagonist (or main character or good guy). You should write about the character, not what they do in the story. Things you could include are:

  • · their name
  • · something about their personality
  • · how old they are or something else that gives us an idea about age like their year in school
  • · their job or role in society (besides being a student)
  • · hobbies they have that are important in the story
  • · anything about their family or friends that makes them who they are
  • · and anything else interesting about them.

 The two parts you have to include are:

  • · your character’s strengths
  • · and weaknesses.

 Here’s the example:

 The main character of The Lightning Thief is a 6th grader named Percy Jackson. Percy lives in a world where the stories from Greek Mythology are real. His mom is human, but his dad is one of the Ancient Greek gods, which makes Percy a demi-god or half blood. Half bloods like Percy have some amazing super powers, and Percy uses his to battle evil monsters and fight for good. Unfortunately, Percy’s powers also make it difficult for him to get along with other kids, and he often gets in fights and doesn’t do well in class because the powers also give him ADHD and dyslexia. By the time the book starts, Percy has been kicked out of several different schools.


Part 4: The Antagonist

This section is about the book’s antagonist (bad guy). You should include important information like:

  • · their name
  • · their relationship to the protagonist
  • · their job/role/hobbies
  • · their personality traits
  • · why they are against the protagonist
  • · and their strengths
  • · and weaknesses.

(Of course, if you are reading a Man vs. Nature story, the list changes a little).

In a man vs. nature story, you need to list the things that nature is doing to prevent your protagonist from solving their problem.

For example:

In the book Hatchet, Brian is trying to survive in the wilderness after a plane crash. At first he has no idea how to hunt or fish, and he doesn’t know what plants are edible, so he may starve. Second, the nights are very cold, so he needs to find shelter. There are also a bunch of dangerous animals in the woods. Brian has a run in with a porcupine, is attacked by a moose, and barely avoids a conflict with a bear. At one point in the story, a terrible storm hits Brian’s camp, and he realizes that there are medical supplies in the plane, which has sunk far down to the bottom of a lake. To survive, Brian must find food, build shelter, and avoid dangerous animals – it’s not an easy task.

 Here’s the example of a more typical antagonist (this time it’s from the third book in the Percy Jackson series):

 The antagonist in The Titan’s Curse is Luke, a teenager who used to be one of Percy Jackson’s close friends. Luke is the son of the Greek god Hermes, but he has gone evil, because he is jealous of all the attention other half-bloods like Percy get. Luke is one of the best sword fighters in the world, but his power is often weaker because he loses his temper and his patience. Luke is working with some other characters from Greek mythology to take over the world.


Part 5: One Other Character

This section is about one other character in the book, just pick the most important character in the book (that’s not the protagonist or antagonist). When talking about the other character include:

  • · their name
  • · their relationship with the protagonist
  • · their role in the story
  • · some stuff about their personality

 Here’s the example:

 One more important character in The Lightning Thief is Grover. Grover is a satyr, a mythological creature that is half human, half goat. Grover’s job is to look after new half-bloods and protect them, but Grover is not a good fighter, so he’s usually scared and weak during Percy’s adventures. Grover is a good friend, is always loyal, and even though he can’t fight well, he always has Percy’s back.


Part 6: Time

Next is a paragraph about your book’s time period.

  • · First you should give us an idea of when your book takes place. You could give specific years or an era of history (you could use a decade, a war, or the name of an era like The Middle Ages or The Great Depression).
  • · If you don’t know a specific year(s) or era, use context clues like historical events, pop culture references, and any technology (or lack of technology) that are in the story to help you figure it out.
  • · Next, tell us about the season or time of year (if it’s important to the story).
  • · How much time passes in your book (a day, a year, a lifetime)?
  • · What’s going on in the world to give us some context?
  • · How the time period is different than now (if it’s a modern book skip that one)?
  • · Finally, if your book is takes place over more than one time period (like a time travel book) be sure to explain that.

 Here’s the example:

 It is difficult to talk about time when discussing The Titan’s Curse. Many of the characters in the book come from Ancient Greek myths and are thousands of years old, but the story itself takes place in modern times. The story takes place over the course of the summer after Percy Jackson’s 8th grade year. The world of the Percy Jackson books isn’t like the world we live in. In the books, Ancient Greek monsters, gods, and heroes are real, and some of the monsters are trying to take over the world.


Part 7: Place

Writing about where your story happens takes a few steps.

  • · Start out with the big picture: tell us the name of the country, state, city, or even planet where you book takes place.
  • · If the place isn’t named, you can just describe the environment (is it mountains, country, city, small town, swamp, desert…). Some of you will be able to do a little of both.
  • · Next you’ll zoom in and tell us about some of the specific locations your book uses. Think about if your book was being written as a play – what sets would we have to build on the stage – a classroom, a bedroom, a playground, the beach, a museum…
  • · If it’s important, you can tell us about the things like climate and weather.
  • · Then tell us what makes the world your characters live in different from ours.

 Here’s the example:

 The Lightning Thief is a fantasy story that takes place in several locations around the United States. The book starts in upstate New York, follows the characters to New York City, and continues as the heroes travel across the country to Los Angeles. There are several important settings in the story. Yancy Academy, Percy’s school, is where the story begins. We also see a museum in New York, the St. Louis Arch, an amusement park in Denver, an arcade in Las Vegas, and the ancient Greek Underworld. Percy travels to many different places across the country while on a quest to retrieve a stolen lightning bolt for the Greek god Zeus. The story is loaded with humor and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you wait to find how Percy saves the world.


Part 8: Conflict

The conflict section should cover:

  • · What your character’s life was like as the book began.
  • · The inciting incident. (And it all changed when…)
  • · The major problem the character has to deal with because of the inciting incident.
  • · A few steps of the conflict building. WITHOUT GIVING AWAY THE ENDING OR ANY SURPRISES!!!!!

 Here’s the example:

 At the beginning of The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson has just found out he’s being  kicked out of another school. On an end of the year field trip, Percy gets in trouble with his teacher Mrs. Dodds. When she pulls him aside to talk about it, Mrs. Dodds suddenly turns in to a horrible monster and attacks Percy. Somehow, Percy manages to kill her. Percy finds out that he is a half-blood, half human and half Ancient Greek god, and he’s been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt. To clear his name, Percy has to find the real lightning thief. Along the way, Percy has to escape monsters like the furies, Medusa, the Chimera, and angry gods like Hephestus and Ares. It’s a race against time, so Percy has to find the bolt and return it to Mt. Olympus before the gods begin a war against each other that may end the world.


Part 9: The Other Things

The Other Things could be a whole bunch of stuff.  You get to choose.  We do 8 book summaries per year, so it’s probably a good idea to try and choose something different each time, but that’s up to you.  When you get to this section, you can write a paragraph about any of the following:

Theme —  What is the underlying message of the book?  Is there a lesson?  What is the author trying to say with this story?

 The Hero’s Journey – How do the events of the book change the character, help them grow as a person, as the story goes on.  Give specific examples from the book.

Mood/Tone – What is the mood or tone of the story?  What are the feelings you get from this book?  Are there any emotions the author is trying to play with?

Point of View – What is the point of view?  Who is telling the story?  How does this narrator affect how the story is told?  How do they affect the mood/tone? Do you feel this point of view is the best way to tell the story?

Author’s Style – What makes this author’s voice different than other writers?  Do you like this author’s style?

Connection to the World –If your book is a historical story, a realistic story, or even sometimes a sci-fi story, it may have connections to the real word.  Does it?  How?

Connection to Other Literature Is there another book or story that your book reminds you of?  Take some time to explore that connection.

Part 10: Book Recommendations

If we liked the book that you just read, tell us some other books we might like.  Include at least four books we might like. Only use one other book by the same author, but don’t use any books from the same series.,, B&, and Destiny in the LRC are all good tools to help you find other books similar to the one you read. 


29 responses

8 09 2012

This is gonna be awesome! When its done of course…. whats everyone doing 4 there book? YOU ROCK MR. C!

14 09 2012

ugh ur hitting us with a spitt ball one after one…

16 09 2012
Amber Z

I’m kind of mixed up with the antagonist because my story is a man vs. nature story

16 09 2012
Minooka TAP

In a man vs. nature story, you need to list the things that nature is doing to prevent your protagonist from solving their problem. For example: In the book Hatchet, Brian is trying to survive in the wilderness after a plane crash. At first he has no idea how to hunt or fish, and he doesn’t know what plants are edible, so he may starve. Second, the nights are very cold, so he needs to find shelter. There are also a bunch of dangerous animals in the woods. Brian has a run in with a porcupine, is attacked by a moose, and barely avoids a conflict with a bear. At one point in the story, a terrible storm hits Brian’s camp, and he realizes that there are medical supplies in the plane, which has sunk far down to the bottom of a lake. To survive, Brian must find food, build shelter, and avoid dangerous animals – it’s not an easy task.

16 09 2012
Amber Z

oh, ok. Thank you!

17 09 2012

The Time paraghraph seems realy hard.

17 09 2012

It is. The point of it is to make you think about the time period and the amount of time lapsed in your book. As you read books now, you’re going to pay closer attention to those ideas. Once you start doing that, hahahahahahahahaha, in my sneaky way I made you a better reader. (that was an evil laugh over there)

17 09 2012

Mr. Curtis, for time what would you say for your book? Im very confused because Billy is talking about things we have today when he’s telling the story from the old west…… so what would you do for that kind of story?

17 09 2012

There are a few clues in there. Merv fights in what he calls the “states war.” What war could that be? Think about the lack of technology – there’s no computers, cell phones, or even cars. What does that tell you?

17 09 2012

OH…. ok… the states war could be like the civil war….. so around like the later 1800’s? Or it could be a bunch of weirdos living in today who think its still the old west…..

17 09 2012

I agree, they might be weirdos, but would that explain the lack of cars?

17 09 2012

…for my other character I wanted to talk about Smedly, the mostly naked cowboy, but he’s not important.

17 09 2012

I would choose Merv, Sloop, Percilla, or Lincoln Caine if I were you.

17 09 2012

yea… i did Merv…….. but just wait till you read my summarie….. you’ll laugh your pants off……. so make sure your wearing a belt tomorrow.

12 10 2012

The book summary seemed hard but then i started it and i had so much fun looking at other peoples summaries and writing mine.

1 10 2012
Jordan Freese

Thank you Mr.Curtis for writing how to write a 6th grade summary. This helped me a lot while I work on this project.

2 10 2012

all of this is so easy

11 10 2012

i thought the book recommendations were going to be hard because i tryed to go on destiny and see which books went with The graveyard book but destiny go all messed up. But when i did it this time for Fablehaven, everything was picture perfect

17 10 2012
Emily B

This is hard,but I haven’t ripped out my hair yet.Besides I’m only 3 points away from getting a B.Hurray.

24 10 2012
Amber Z

I think I already did. I can’t seem to get a B at least!

1 11 2012

i was surprised I didnt rip my hair out either, I think I was pretty close to it though!

1 11 2012

Now that I have had all my practice with the first book summary, this 2nd one was super easy. Did anyone else think this too?

5 11 2012


4 11 2012
Emily B

I agree,Arianna.I’m literally flying through the 2nd book summary!

15 09 2013


24 09 2013
Peyton Rhine

This is a nice trip though memory lane…………

26 12 2013
Coaching the Lethargic Writer RocketRedNeck

[…] yet clearly we were not communicating what must be done. After much searching on the web we found Mr. Curtis’ Blog that help break down what a 6th grade book report should look like (at least it matched what I […]

17 11 2014
Jonah Stewart

Thank you so much this is so useful, I’m a home schooler and this makes it easy for a 10 year old to write a good paper.

14 12 2014

Hey this is nice mr.c I have a
Book report and I gave it in using these steps and my teacher is really proud of me ur the best thank you

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