Teaching Kids How to Make a Book Jacket

By Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Combining art projects with reading helps make reading fun.
Combining art projects with reading helps make reading fun.

Back-to-school sales trigger parents and teachers alike to start preparing for the new school year and look for creative ways to encourage your child to engage with the subjects she will be studying. Reading and book reports are standard fare in elementary school. However, if your budding artist drags her feet at the idea of a boilerplate written report, you can add a little imaginative flair by teaching her how to make a book jacket that artistically highlights all the main information about the book and entices peers to read the book, too.

Project Introduction

Selling your child on the idea that this will be a fun project is a matter of tapping into his natural interests to hook him into it. Look at the jackets of several of his favorite stories together. Point out that the pictures tell something about the story as does the story summary. Explain that the purpose of the story is to make the story seem fun, interesting and exciting so children will want to read it. Some book jackets reinforce positive impressions about the book with excerpts from good reviews. Tell your child to select a favorite book that he thinks all his friends should read, too. He will be creating a book jacket to convince them to give it a try.

The Cover

Many options present themselves for making the basic cover. Your child can cut the top, bottom and one narrow side panel out of a cereal box and reverse the folds to leave the blank side free for decoration. Another idea is to show her how to make a paper book cover out of a used paper bag or butcher paper to wrap around the actual book and design a new jacket for it. If you just want to do the front cover, you can cut a piece of poster board to book size or use a full sheet to create an oversized cover. Alternatively, fold a piece of construction paper in half and design both the front and back covers.

Front Panel

The front cover generally depicts important characters, events or ideas from the story. Talk to your child about which parts of the story she can highlight with cover art to make the book seem appealing to her friends. The title, author's and illustrator's name generally appears in prominent letters, often in an artistic form. Have your child add this information to the cover and if desired to the jacket spine. If the book is an award winner, show this information on the front cover as a seal. Your child can draw all these elements, create them on a computer word processor or paint program and glue them to the jacket or use stickers.

Back Panel

The back cover of a book usually includes a story summary or teaser designed to spark children's interest in checking out what is between the covers. Discuss with your child what the main ideas, problems or conflicts in the story are and how he can sum up the story without giving away the ending. Have him write a brief synopsis that will intrigue his friends and persuade them to read the story. Look up professional reviews of the story or write his own short book review or rating and add them to the back cover. You can continue the front cover art on the back or your child can design a new picture. She may also choose to include a brief "About the Author" biography.

About the Author

Tamara Christine has written more than 900 articles for a variety of clients since 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in applied linguistics and an elementary teaching license. Additionally, she completed a course in digital journalism in 2014. She has more than 10 years experience teaching and gardening.