Terry Oglesby has some excellent advice for eighth graders doing book reports (per a Google query):

Oft times, parents will write the book report for their “eight [sic] grader”, oblivious to the usual poor quality of such works, and fill it with big words and fanciful ideas. Unless a concerted effort is made to conceal these, most teachers are able to pick out work done by parents because there are usually at least 7-14% fewer misspelled words, and the grammar usually sounds more “grown-uppy”.

So, be sure to throw in lots of phrases such as, “he done” and, “whitch is relly stuped” and, “duh”.

Second, the actual book itself is unimportant. Those yellow and black books in the bookstore are just fine; you don’t have to read nearly as much and they are usually cheaper than the real book.

Third, be sure to use very large font sizes (14 point is minimum, 26 is preferred), double spacing, 2″ margins, a cover sheet, and a back sheet.

Fourth, the best thing you can do is get a really cool cover. This always impresses teachers.

There now, hope that helps! Let us know how it turns out for you!

The part about the report cover must be true, as this point was often driven home in the Calvin and Hobbes strips, most notably this classic.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. patricia says:

    this is funny yet so, so sad at the same time. thankfully i dont know any parents who would do their kid’s work. well, i guess i don’t. it’s not as if they would say, huh?

  2. Well, I must confess to having given some pretty hefty consulting work on some past projects by my own kids. I try my best, though, to let them do as much as possible and just offer some pointers, rather than actually do it all.

    The most recent instance when it didn’t quite turn out that way, I really did go overboard trying to help my oldest daughter with an algebra problem.

    I tried to get her through the steps, and I thought she had it, but she kept getting the wrong answer. I moved her out of the chair and very calmly went through and did it, and got the wrong answer, too. ::grr::

    I finally figured out what I had done wrong…not simplifying in the right spot…but it took forever, and I figure if I couldn’t get it right, I couldn’t get too mad at her.

    There’s plenty of other opportunities for that.

  3. Meezer says:

    8th Grade? How about college? I heard this yesterday in Psych class: “Did you get it done?” “Yeah, but it’s not long enough. I put on a *cover and back sheet* and got a really expensive cover.”