Whoever said ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’?

‘Good’ readers already know a great deal about a book before they begin to read it.

They look at the title of the book.

  • They ask themselves ‘What might this book be about?’
  • They ask themselves if it reminds them of anything else they’ve read before.

They look at the picture on the cover to discover more information.

  • Perhaps the picture depicts characters or setting, and so they know who the book is about, or where the action of the book will take place.

The colours on the cover, and the font in which the title is printed, can also be important.

  • Good readers can often tell that the book belongs to a particular genre or type.  Bright colours and cartoon-like figures might tell them that this is a funny book.  Dark colours might mean that the book is scary or sad, and other design features will provide further clues about the content of the book.  If the font appears to drip with blood, for example, good readers know that this is going to be a horror book.

Good readers read the blurb on the back cover.

  • They know that it is designed to entice them to read the book, but they also know that it provides extra information about character, plot or genre.

Good readers have favourite authors.

  • They recognize the author’s name on the cover of the book, and know whether this is likely to be a book that they want to read.

Good readers don’t just pick up a book and start reading, hoping that it will turn out to be something they like.  They check it out very thoroughly, first.  Here are the kinds of questions you might ask to make your child more aware and to help build comprehension skills:

  • How does the title of this book tell you what it might be about?
  • Does this title remind you of any other books you have read?
    Did you like those books?
  • What kind of book do you think this is going to be? (ie, what genre?)
    How can you tell?  (What are the clues on the cover that tell you this?)
  • Do you know the author of this book?
    If so, do you know what kind (genre) of books s/he usually writes?
    Have you read any other books s/he has written?
    Did you like it/them?
  • Who do you think wrote this blurb?
    Why was it written?
    How does it want you to think about the book? (For example, that the book  is very exciting/sad/frightening/mysterious etc.)
    What extra information does it give you about the contents of the book?
    Now that you’ve read the blurb, do you think you would like to read the book?

 After your child has finished reading the book, or you have finished reading it together, come back to some of the predictions he or she made after examining the cover.  Ask questions like these:

  • How accurate were the predictions you made before you started reading?
  • Now that you know what the book is about, do you think the title was appropriate?
    Is there another title that you think would have been better?
  • If you were the author would you like your book to have a different cover?  What do you think should be on the cover?

So … whoever did say, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’??