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Lesson Plan

Book Report Alternative: Writing Resumes for Characters in Historical Fiction

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Book Report Alternative: Writing Resumes for Characters in Historical Fiction

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Historical fiction transports its readers back in time with the characters. Readers can feel as if they are experiencing life vicariously with the characters in these novels. Invite your students to engage even more with the characters and setting of the historical fiction that they read by helping a character from their reading choose and apply for a job. What would it be like to search for a job in the past? What qualifications would be needed? Students explore help wanted ads, in print and online, to see what employers want. Then, students draft a resume so their characters can apply for jobs.

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Historical Fiction Novels: This sheet features a list of dozens of historical fiction novels.

Resume Writing Tips: This printable sheet includes a list of tips for writing resumes, which can be used in a variety of resume-writing and career-related activities.

Writing Resumes for Fictional Characters: This online tool provides students with information about writing a fictional character's resume and choosing a job, which can be applied to real-world career exploration activities.

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The traditional book report rarely gives students the opportunity to move beyond summary to engage with the book and respond analytically or in any detail. Chris Crowe warns teachers: "Forget traditional book reports. Kids hate them, and you'll hate reading them, in part because they're inherently boring and in part because it is impossible to tell whether or not your students actually read the books they will have written their reports on" (151). Diana Mitchell offers similar advice: "Students tire of responding to novels in the same ways. They want new ways to think about a piece of literature and new ways to dig into it" (92). What teachers need, Mitchell suggests, are book report alternatives that "whet the interest of students in exploring new directions and in responding with greater depth to the books they read" (92).

Using a resume as an alternative to the traditional book report encourages students to think more deeply about the books that they have read and provide responses that move beyond plot summary.

Further Reading

Crowe, Chris. "Young Adult Literature." English Journal 90.1 (September 2000): 149-51.


Mitchell, Diana. "Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report." English Journal 87.1 (January 1998): 92-95.

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