Reading on my iPad is great! Except for one thing! I rarely know the title of the book I’m reading because I do not see the cover. This is a problem for me because the book cover serves as the first point of contact for the story or information inside. I also tend to pick out a book based on its cover. A well – designed book cover inspires me to read. It seems to suggest that an adventure waits to be uncovered inside!
Have you ever watched your students as they try to make a book choice? They pick up the book, read the cover, study the artwork, turn it over, look at the cover again before putting it back on the shelf or opening the pages. Why is this so important? Here’s why: book covers give us the chance to predict the story or information contained inside. They aid in comprehension of the text or message, even for an adult learner.
The very first writing lesson I teach my students is how to predict the genre of the book they are about to read. I want them to look at a book cover and decide the author’s purpose for writing. This engages their minds to think closely about the content of the book. Is it going to entertain me (narrative) or give me information (expository)? Will I learn something if I read this book? If so, what will I learn? Will this book be about a character and will this character have a problem of some sort? If so, how will he/she solve the problem? Will a lesson be learned? Will the setting or activity take center stage in this story and not the character? We look at books with “Author’s Eyes.” Building literacy skills begins with understanding genre and author’s purpose.
This lesson is one that I repeat every time I pick up a book or text with my students. I have this discussion and make predictions during reading time, when using a science or social text, or when reading any article. I do this year round, not just early in the year. Revisiting this lesson is crucial to building a foundation for literacy development. My students begin to comprehend text before they ever open the book.
So, when my book is delivered to my device it usually lands on the first chapter, but here’s what I do – I turn to the cover of the book and study the artwork. I look at the title and think about what this book might be about. What adventure awaits me here? What am I going to learn? It excites my curiosity and extends an invitation to come on inside like an old friend. Then I turn to the first page.