Designing a Book Cover Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students will practice synthesizing a literary work into a visual format. By creating alternative covers for books, they will engage with the plot, characters, motifs, and tone of the book in a new way.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Critically think about the major themes, motifs, and symbols in a work of literature
  • Consider the relationship between characters and plot in creating a literary tone
  • Synthesize the major themes or tone of a written work in cover art


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.


  • Various grade-appropriate books
  • Wide pieces of blank paper
  • Markers, colored pencils, or other artistic utensils


  • Hand out an example of a book for students to look at.
  • Take a few minutes to go over the different parts of a book cover: front/back cover, spine, etc.
  • Then allow students a few minutes to examine the covers and ask:
    • What does the cover look like?
    • How do the various elements of a book cover (front, back, spine, text, image) interact?
    • Does the cover of a book matter?
    • Do covers vary by genre?
    • Can you judge a book by its cover? Why or why not?
    • What do you personally like in a cover? What do you expect to see? What would you find unappealing in a book cover?
  • Allow students several minutes for discussion, making sure to point out the various elements of a book cover and their components, as well as how they work together.
  • Allow students to ask any questions before moving on to the activity.


Outline the Book

  • Have student pick a book or assign a book for them to create a cover for.
  • Tell students that the first step to creating a good book cover is to understand the book. Write the following questions on the board, and ask students to write out the questions and answers on their own sheets of paper.
    • What is the plot of the story?
    • Who are the main protagonists?
    • Who are the main antagonists?
    • What are the three most important scenes of the book?
    • What is the mood/tone of the book?
    • What motifs/symbols are significant in this book?

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