Why not ask your students to summarise the essentials of a story by designing their own book covers?
Let your students become more familiar with the genre of a book cover by watching the short video “Evolution of a book cover” (1:41 min.). In this video, book designer Vi-An Nguyen documents the journey of her creative process of composing the front cover of a novel. It shows how her ideas gradually change and develop towards the final result and is a great starting point for appreciating the significance of a book cover design.
Watch and reflect: Evolution of a book cover
Vi-An Nguyen is a Brooklyn-based art director, illustrator and book cover designer. In this short video, she guides us through the development of her design for the cover of the novel “The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr. You can see more of her book covers at https://vi-annguyen.com/. After you have finished watching, reflect in pairs about the video.
Was this how you thought book covers were designed or was there something that surprised you in the video?
Which cover did you enjoy the most? Do you think they went with the best suggestion in the end?
How does a book cover successfully grab the attention of a potential reader? In this next task, students are asked to go to an online bookstore and find a book cover design that appeals to them. Finding something they like shouldn’t be that difficult, but getting them to explain why they chose this or that particular book cover when spoiled for choice, is more of a challenge. This task will help students to become more aware of their own preferences, whilst paying attention to some of the fundamentals of book cover design.
Research and reflect: What grabs your attention?
What kind of book cover designs are you drawn to? Go to an online bookstore, browse through some digital bookshelves and choose a book based on the cover design.
Imagine that you have to describe the front cover of the book to someone who cannot see it. Pay attention to details such as: use of colours and colour schemes, the appearance and positioning of image(s), the font used in the title and the author’s name.
How have all of the elements you have just described, been combined to form a successful design? Can you describe why you found this particular book cover appealing or intriguing?
Answer each task by writing a paragraph or by discussing in pairs.
Now that your students are more familiar with the different components of a successful book cover design, it’s time to unleash their creativity and let them express their knowledge of a text through designing their own cover. One way of approaching this activity is by using PowerPoint to document the design process and the finished cover and then turn this into a reflection video with a talking head of the student explaining their design and the process of creation. The following features in the main menu will be very useful:
Insert – Icons / Illustrations / Clip-art / Text / WordArt
Design - Themes or Format background
Record/Insert - Cameo
Design and reflect: Cover story
Now it is your turn to become a book cover designer! Let Vi-An Nguyen’s cover story inspire you and experiment with different combinations of motifs, colour contrasts and text fonts. The aim is to find a way to express some of the essentials of the story (i.e. main character or plot development, recurring theme or main message) through your cover design.
You may choose to work with a novel, a short story, a poem, an essay or another non fiction text.
Once you have completed your design, record a short reflection video where you:
describe the design process; the main stages of creating your design
… and interpret the final result; why is this an attention-grabbing book cover?
Showcase the results!
Suggestion: Create a class page on which you can share your products and use them to prepare for book club. You can create a private Instagram account, a shared page on OneNote or another digital media that you agree upon in class.