That term is used pretty loosely. Some people mean a detailed synopsis. Others want an in-depth analysis on one or more literary devices. Some people actually mean a critic's review of the book. There are even those who want EVERYTHING. Storyboard That wants to bring all of the different kinds of book reports together in a much more engaging medium.
The basis for understanding any piece of literature is to know what is going on. Being able to retell or summarize a story is especially important for students in the younger grades to make sure they can comprehend what they are reading. However, there are very complex plots and subplots in many pieces of high school literature as well, and a synopsis can be highly useful for discussing and understanding the structure of the story.
When reading literature, we want students to pick up on various literary devices and elements in addition to understanding the plot of the story. Literary devices enrich plot, character development, description, the reader's connection to the story, and so much more.
Here are a few of the literary devices and literary elements that we love: