The First Sentence of a Book Report

5 Examples

The first sentence of your paper should work like a fishing hook!
The first sentence of your paper should work like a fishing hook!. Grace Fleming

The first sentence of any report serves a very important role. Your introductory sentence must be the "hook" that intrigues your reader and keeps him or her interested. For many writers, the first sentence of an essay is actually the last sentence written and polished. It’s that important!

Writing the First Sentence

You can choose from a number of approaches when it comes to setting the stage of your essay with an engaging first sentence.

1. Start your essay with a question.

You could start with a hooking sentence that makes the experience personal for the reader.

  • Do you believe in happy endings?
  • Have you ever felt like a total outsider?
  • Do you love a good mystery?
  • What would you do if you discovered a secret that changed everything?
  • Do you believe a person can really change?
  • Are you afraid of the dark?
  • Do you have a hero?

If you start your book report with a question, you can follow with the title and author.

Have you ever been judged by your appearance? In The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton gives readers a glimpse inside the tough exterior of a social outcast.

2. Start with an interesting or little-known fact:

As a young child, Charles Dickens was forced to work in a shoe polish factory. In Hard Times, Dickens taps into his childhood experience to explore the evils of social injustice and hypocrisy.

It’s easy to find an interesting fact to use as a starting point for your report.

Simply find a biography of your author and then identify a life experience that relates to the particular work you’re reviewing. Remember to list the biography in your bibliography!

3. Start with the title and setting:

To Kill a Mockingbird, the award-winning book by Harper Lee, takes place in a small town in Alabama during a challenging period in American history.

Authors make a deliberate choice when selecting the setting of a book.  After all, the location and setting can set a very distinct mood. The location will have particular significance in any storyline, so you can use the setting as a footstep into the analysis of an entire book. 

4. Start with a meaningful quote:

"'Are there no prisons?' This offhand question was the response of Ebenezer Scrooge when confronted with the tragic state of hundreds of fellow citizens in Victorian London."

Authors also choose dialog carefully, and a single phrase from a character can often represent a major theme in the book. This quote by Scrooge reflects the cruelty that is often present in a Dickens novel.

5. Start with the author:

Mark Twain spent much of his childhood on the banks of the Mississippi River, so it is little wonder that his greatest works took place on and around that famous waterway.

You may choose to find an experience from the author’s real life that had a major impact on the writer's work. This could be geographic location, health, social status, family experience, education, or physical characteristics. The author always puts a little of himself or herself into the work.