Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Character and Author Business Cards

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Two 50-minute sessions
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In this alternative to the traditional book report, students have to really understand a character from a book they have read in order to successfully communicate the essence of the character using a few words and symbols on a business card. They begin by discussing the details commonly found on business cards and looking at samples. They think about how font, colors, and logos can be used to represent their characters, as well as the taglines, products and services, and other details that could be included.  Students then use planning sheets to think through the elements they want to include on their business cards before creating the final version using a word processing program on the computer. Final copies of the business cards can be exchanged among students and given to the librarian for display.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In describing this activity, Gretchen Lee states "I like this activity because it forces the
students to think symbolically" (28). The students choose a font for their character or author, find icons or images for the character or author, and compose related text. These student representations of the character or author with their multifaceted texts using color, symbols, images, texts, and metaphor succeed in the classroom because they provide a snapshot of the students' comprehension of the ideas in the texts in a very concise form.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with word processor software

  • Sample business cards from various local businesses or people you've met. (Note: many businesses have business cards propped up and available for the taking near the receptionist or checkout area. If you pick up cards as you see them, you'll always have a ready collection on hand. You might also check with local printers who make business cards for samples.)

  • Business card blanks or heavy stock paper cut to the appropriate size; or perforated business card pages for a laser or inkjet printer (available in office supply stores) (optional)

  • Peel-and-stick magnetic sheets precut to the size of business cards. These magnetic sheets are typically available in stationery and office supply stores, and the business cards can be attached to these magnetic sheets to make refrigerator/white board magnets. This makes an impressive classroom display at the end of the project (optional)




  • Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class.

  • Ask students to bring copies of the book that will be the focus of their business cards to class for reference.

  • Make copies or overheads of the sample business cards, the Planning Sheet for Business Card Book Reports, and the Rubric for Business Card Book Reports.

  • Practice the steps for creating business cards with a word processor using your computers and software. You may want to provide your students with more specific instructions that are customized for your software program.

  • Find sources for clip art that are appropriate for your class. Typically a small clip art library is included with word processing programs; however, additional images may be needed. Have URLs on hand that students can use to find images for their business cards.

    Optional: Depending upon your goals and the resources available, students can also draw original images on their business cards with markers, create images in a program such as Paint or PhotoShop, or scan images for their cards.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • identify appropriate symbols that relate to their authors or characters.

  • interact with classmates to give and receive feedback.

  • explore how audience and purpose shape their writing.

Session One

  1. Introduce the writing activity, sharing the planning sheet, rubric, and example business card.

    1. Generally explain that students will be making business cards that include elements from the list of options on the planning sheet that are appropriate for their character or author. The business cards can be given away or traded with other students. One copy can also go to the librarian who can share them with other students at the school.

    2. Share the example business cards with students and explain the assignment, pointing out each of the parts that are included. Discuss other elements that could be added to the cards. You may also want to let students explore some business card sites on the Web to see examples, including Business Card Designs by Daniel Will-Harris and Rethink Your Business Card from Ideabook.

    3. Lead students through discussion of the key elements for each part. Sample discussion questions can include the following:

      • What are the important characteristics of a tagline or description of a business or professional? What do the words in the tagline on the sample card tell you about the character?

      • What details make sense for the character? Is there an address? Would phone or e-mail information make sense?

      • What products and/or services can you associate with the character or author?

      • What typeface best fits the character or author? How large should it be?

      • What colors belong on the business card? How do the colors relate to the other elements of the card?

      • What kind of a logo would best represent the character or author and why?

      • How do the symbols on the business card relate to the text? What ideas might you keep in mind as you choose clip art?
  2. Once you're satisfied that students understand the assignment, they can begin work with the Planning Sheet for Business Card Book Reports. Students can work individually or in groups on this project.

  3. Encourage students to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for business cards. Since these business cards will be shared in the class as well as in the library, hearing the feedback and comments of other students helps writers refine their work for their audience.

  4. Students can continue working on the project for homework if desired.

Session Two

  1. Remind students of the goals and elements included in this project. Answer any questions students have.

  2. To make business cards, have your students follow these basic steps, adapting them for the word processor that is available on your computers:

    1. Choose one of the following options, based on the resources you have available:

      • Open up the Business Card Template in Microsoft Word.

      • Open a new document and insert 2 columns and 4 rows. Space the columns and rows out to be 3.5" columns and 2" rows.

      • Open a new document using one of the business card layouts available (see your word processor documentation for additional help).

      • If you are using perforated business card forms, follow the instructions that have been included with the forms.
    2. Invite students to compose their text and add their images to one of the business card rectangles. If students are using Microsoft Word, they can find additional clipart in Microsoft's Digital Clip Art Gallery. In addition to clip art, students can use Word Art in their word processor to make fancier versions of some of the words on their cards (see the help in your word processor for details on how to use this option).

    3. Once students have the card composed as they want it, have them copy the contents of the first cell in the table, and paste it to the additional seven cells in the document. The eight cards should fit on one sheet of 8.5" by 11" paper.

    4. As students consider different options for their cards, you may suggest that they try one layout option in one cell of their table and another layout option in a different cell so that they can compare the two layouts side-by-side.

    5. Remind students to put their names on the back of the business cards.

  3. While students work, again encourage them to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for business cards.

  4. After the business cards are printed out, students can decorate them with markers or other classroom supplies.

  5. As students finish, ask them to turn in two business cards (one for you and one for the librarian). Encourage students to share and trade their additional business cards.


Student Assessment / Reflections

For more formal assessment, use the Rubric for Business Card Book Reports which is tied to the elements included in the planning sheet.

On the other hand, nothing is as useful as the feedback that they'll receive by sharing their business cards with their peers. Informal feedback from students who read the cards and search out the related book are excellent feedback for students.