Help Me Write A Summary!

Hello Middle School Students,

Writing summaries sounds like an easy task, after all, it is just a paragraph, right? Well, for some of us, summarizing what we read comes naturally,  but for the majority of us, it can be a pretty tricky task. There are many reading “shoulds” you will need to follow.

The first and most important rule you must follow is to make sure you are reading a book you understand. It should be, “a just right” level book. Reading a “just right” level book can be compared to watching a favorite movie. You should be able to read at least 98% of the words on each page with relative ease. Those words on that page should create images in your mind, invoke emotions and push you to predict or question the actions or thoughts of the main character. You have the ability to choose the book that is just right for you. Stick with a genre you enjoy and make sure it is enjoyable. This will help you write an excellent summary!

When writing a summary, you must write it in your own words, that is, you must paraphrase the text. Secondly, your summary must be about the text and the text only. It does not contain any of your opinions, theories or any connections you may have. Another “must” of an excellent summary is to include those most important details the relate to the plot. Lastly, the summary is concise and well written. It should be easy for your audience to understand what you have written.

If you need additional help, I will include some sentence stems that may help you write that excellent summary for fictional texts:

Somebody (main character)

Wanted (describe the character’s goal)

But/However (describe the conflict/problem as part of the plot)

S0 (describe the reaction/ action of the main character to the problem/conflict)

Then (describe the resolution – how the passage ended)

We can take John’s summary and rewrite it using these stems to help us:

(Somebody)Dr. Kuan wanted to remain in China with his family when he found a young boy infected with the Zombie virus. But when he told his partner, Dr. Quay, about the young boy, the doctor became alarmed and fretted about the danger of this infection So Dr. Kuan determined it was no longer safe for he and his family to remain in China. He then made plans to leave the country as soon as possible.

This is one of many strategies you can use to write an excellent summary.


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