Last week I was working with a class of students, each of whom needed to pick out a book on the Holocaust. As I started the class, I reminded them not to pay too much mind to the covers. This unit has been in place for a long time, and some of the covers are starting to look a little dated.

Cover of But Can the Phoenix Sing
Image from Google Books

At the end of the day, after four classes visited, left behind were books like these with 70s/80s covers. Books with newer, fresher covers went first. And those with nondescript covers were chosen before these ones that looked older.

Early in the year, I surveyed fifth and sixth graders about their reading habits. 55% reported that a cover can make them want to read the book. Even more telling, perhaps, were the 45% who said a cover could cause them not to choose a book. As one girl wrote:

People always say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I always judge a book by it’s cover, if it looks good I read it!

So, clearly, cover is huge when it comes to tweens/teens and reading. But often the author has very little choice. Authors are often asked for input, but the final choice is left to the publishers. (See Melissa Walker’s Cover Stories for some examples of when it went well.)

With all of this in mind, I am very, very excited to share that Jim Kay will be illustrating the cover of my upcoming novel, The Water Castle. I have seen some of the early drafts (is this what they’re called in the art world?), and they are gorgeous. I can’t wait to see — and share — the final version.

Cover Judgers
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