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Evaluating a Book By Its Cover

Teacher Lesson


  • Language Arts
  • Literature
  • Grades

  • 6 - 8
  • 9 - 12
  • Brief Description

    Students examine the cover of the novel that they are reading and use that cover illustration to examine the characters, plot, and theme of the novel.


    Students evaluate the characters, plot, and theme of a novel by examining the cover illustration.


    novel, illustration, protagonist, plot, theme, symbol.

    Materials Needed

  • classroom novels
  • white drawing paper
  • colored pencils or crayons
  • Internet access (optional)

    Lesson Plan

    Before the students begin reading a new novel, discuss the following questions:

    Why does a publisher include an illustration on the cover of a novel? What is the purpose of the cover illustration?

    After reading the novel, students should answer the following questions:

    1. Describe the cover illustration of the novel in one sentence.
    2. What scene, character, or setting is depicted on the cover? Describe how the cover illustration relates to the novel.
    3. Describe what you see in the cover illustration.
      • Who is the person depicted on the cover?
      • What was his or her role in the novel?
      • Why do you think that this person was featured in the illustration?
      • What objects or minor characters are depicted on the cover illustration?
      • Why were those objects or people included?
      • What captions or words are included?
    4. Does the cover illustration represent a scene or event from the novel? If so, describe the event. Was that event a pivotal or climactic moment in the action?
    5. Does the cover illustration have abstract artwork or graphics? If so, why do you think the publisher chose this cover?
    6. Does the cover illustration suggest a theme of the novel? If so, what is this theme and how is it depicted on the cover? How is the cover illustration related to the theme? Are symbols used in the cover illustration? How do those symbols relate to the theme of the novel?
    7. Do you think that the cover illustration for the novel you have read is effective? Why or why not?

    Extension Activities

    • Draw an alternative cover for this novel.
    • The publisher has decided that the novel needs 4 to 6 illustrations within the novel. Those illustrations should feature significant events in the novel. List the events that you would depict. Choose one and create an illustration for that event.
    • Compare and contrast the covers from two editions of the same novel.


    To assess student learning, ask them to answer the following questions in an extended paragraph:
    • If you were the publisher of this novel, would you have chosen this cover for the book? Why or why not?
    • What changes would you have made?
    • What does this cover teach us about the novel?

    Submitted By

    Steven Vetter, Manatee County Schools in Bradenton, FL

    Originally posted 11/07/2002
    Last updated 11/01/2006

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