Independent Novel Study Guide
(To be completed in your Comp Book)
Following are activities to be completed for your novel study. All answers will be recorded in
your comp book. Be sure to organize your notes and answers neatly, following the instructions,
and including the title or question number so your answers can be easily understood.
Novel Selection (Due:
Select a novel from the choices given. Read the first chapter to be sure it is a novel that appeals
to you. Once you have chosen your book, let your teacher know the title and author. Once you
have chosen a book, you may not change your mind.
Start a new page (on the right side) in your composition book. Title the page “Novel Study”, and
record today’s date in the upper right corner. Complete the following on one page.
Title of Book: (i.e. write “Title of the Book” in your Comp Book, then list the Title)
Illustrator (if applicable):
Date of First Publication:
Why you chose this novel: In one paragraph, explain why you chose this novel. Look
at the front cover and read the back cover and inside sleeve, if there is one. List the facts
that you know, or think you know, about the book without having read it. At first glance,
how do you feel about the novel? Why?
Word Study (Due:
The next four pages of your comp book will be dedicated to vocabulary. At the top of each page,
write the title “Vocabulary”.
As you read, find a minimum of 10 words that are new or unfamiliar to you. For each word,
a) the page number on which you find it
b) the context in which you find it (copy the sentence or phrase from the book
and underline the word)
c) your best guess of the word’s meaning based on the clues available
d) the dictionary definition of the word and any other common forms of the word
e) your own original sentence using the word (or form of) that demonstrates an
understanding of the meaning
Basic Components of the Novel (Due:
These components are skillfully interwoven by the author. Each component feeds or supports the
other three to create a unified whole, and your understanding of each component will grow as
you read. By the end of your reading, you should be able to speak on each of these in detail.
Check your understanding of each of these as you read.
In your comp book, title the next four pages “Setting Notes”, “Plot Notes”, “Character Notes”,
and “Theme Notes”. All the information about each topic does not reveal itself at once. As you
read, take notes to guide your thinking and understanding of each component of the novel.
Setting: Decribe the details of place and time. What is the atmosphere and mood during
the course of action, including during the conflict and at the climax?
Plot: Tell what happens in the novel by highlighting the main events and experiences of
the characters.
Character: Describe the main character(s) and his/her traits.
Theme: In your own words, explain the author's message for this book. What
point about human values or experiences is s/he trying to make? What are readers
to come away having learned or to still be thinking about as they close the book?
Level 1 Questions (for the early chapters of the book) Due (
After reading about one third of the book, select three of the questions below. In your comp
book, title the next three pages “Level 1 Questions”. At the top of the page, write the question #
and re-write the question. Then answer in a complete paragraph (no more than 1 page).
1. Name and describe the main character in the book. Describe him/her physically and
describe his/her personality and history, if known. Then give your impression of him/her.
2. Name and describe a minor character. Describe her/him physically and describe her/his
personality and history, if known. Explain how s/he is important to the story and the
ideas of the book.
3. Describe the nature of the relationship between two characters. Include their history
together and details of their relationship. Explain the significance of their relationship to
the book.
4. Describe one important event in the book and explain why it is significant to the story (to
the plot, the characters, the ideas of the book).
5. Explain one specific aspect of the culture described in the book. Tell how it compares to
a specific culture you are familiar with.
6. What are your feelings and thoughts about the novel based on one or more specific things
you have read?
7. Find one specific idea, event, or behavior in the book that relates to real life. Explain the
relationship you see.
Level 2 Questions (for the middle chapters of the book) Due (
After reading the middle third of the book, select three of the questions below. In your comp
book, title the next three pages “Level 2 Questions”. At the top of the page, write the question #
and re-write the question. Then answer in a complete paragraph (no more than 1 page).
1. If the time or place switches around during the book, explain how and give examples.
How does this switching serve the story?
2. What is the general feeling or mood of the book? Give specific examples of how the
author creates that feeling or mood.
3. Compare and contrast two characters psychologically (the way they think and make
decisions). To do this, consider their behavior and personality. Consider whether their
physical selves support or contrast with their psychological selves.
4. Give an example of a significant conflict or conflicts between two characters (external
conflict) or between a character and his/her conscience (internal conflict).
Who is the narrator of the story? Is s/he inside or outside the story? What is her/his
relationship to the story?
Is the book written in the first or third person (I or s/he)? How does that affect the story?
Explain the organization of the book. How it is important to the story?
What is your reaction to a relationship, event, socio-cultural behavior or message/theme
of the book? Be clear about what you are reacting to and exactly what makes you
respond as you do.
Choose a sentence or phrase that attracts you. Explain why you chose it, its value in the
book and its value to you.
Level 3 Questions (for the final chapters of the book) Due (
After reading the last third of the book, select three of the questions below. In your comp book,
title the next three pages “Level 3 Questions”. At the top of the page, write the question # and
re-write the question. Then answer in a complete paragraph (no more than 1 page).
1. If there is any special language used (dialects, foreign words, slang, etc.) give examples
and explain its use and purpose. What is its effect?
2. Does the author use humor, irony, symbolism, or metaphors? Give at least two examples
and explain the effect.
3. What is the peak event, or the climax, of the novel? What major conflicts lead up to it
and what is the resolution afterward?
4. What is the theme or themes in the novel? How does the author show this idea? Give
evidence. Comment on how this theme fits in the novel and how it applies to life outside
the book. What does this theme mean to you?
5. What did you learn from this novel? In answering this, you may comment on any aspect
of the novel, including how it is written.
Due ______ H. Choice Activities (choose two):
1. How is the main character of the novel similar to a person that you know? Discuss your
answer in an essay.
2. Can you see any similarities between the main character and an animal? Discuss.
3. Pretend that you are the author and you have been asked to explain which parts of the
novel were the easiest and the hardest for you to write.
4. Have you had an experience similar to that of one of the characters in the novel? Write
about this experience.
5. Write a poem that describes the plot of the novel.
6. Pretend that one of the characters in the novel has died. Write an obituary that will
describe the character.
7. Write an essay describing any changes that the main character underwent throughout he
8. Design a map showing the locations of the novel.
9. Write a different ending for the novel.
10. Write a description of events (real or imagined) that took place before the novel started.
11. Describe the problems the main character encountered in the novel and tell how this
character solved these problems.
12. Pretend that you are the main character of the novel. Choose one of the other characters
and write a description of that person based on your thoughts and experiences.
13. Interview one of the characters and ask him/her to explain some of the actions in the
14. Compare the novel to another novel on a similar topic that you have read.
15. Create a list of 15 words from the story and illustrate them to show their meaning. 
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