When you think about it, what we do when we summarize is to pare the story down to its bare bones. I like to tell students it's like writing an ad... or what they see on the back of the book... or to imagine that they only have two minutes on the phone to tell a friend about the book. So, the bottom line is that you only have time and space to give the essential big ideas, events, characters, and settings.
Or beginning, middle, end. In this strategy students give one sentence about what happened at the beginning, one for the middle, and one for the end. When you put those sentences together, you get a summary. BME's can be done as flip books, graphic organizers, or just written on a piece of paper.
Or Somebody Wanted But So Then. This one is great for those cause and effect stories or ones with clear problems and solutions.
Have students fill in a story map graphic organizer with the main character, setting, problem, three big events, and solution. Again, you put those answers together into a paragraph and you get a summary.
Instruct students that they will be writing a commercial or magazine ad for the book. There is not much time or space to get bogged down in all the little details, so you have to only tell the important things that happen.
5 W's + H
Students answer the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) and you can add an H (how) if the story needs it. Those answers can also come together to make a summary.