We’ve all heard the expression a million times and we’ve all used the expression (probably another million times) while teaching our kids a lesson or three at some point along the way, but is it true? Can you literally not judge a book by its cover?

My youngest daughter had a terrific idea to use a graphic organizer like the kind employed in her 2nd grade classroom to actually put this You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover assumption to the test once and for all. The idea with this activity is to judge a book solely on the title and the cover art, before reading it, and then see if your kid’s judge-y guesses were spot-on or way out there.

Judge a book by its cover activity reading Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade Activity

What You’ll Need

  • a new (or new-to-your-child) kid’s book
  • two sheets of plain paper
  • pencil

Getting Started

It’s important that your voracious reader isn’t allowed to read (or even see!) the new book you’ll use for this activity until you are ready to actually get started. This will ensure their guesses are 100 percent off-the-cuff. When ready, place the paper and pencil down next to the closed book. Help your child make two spider graphic organizers (see below), one on each sheet of paper, by drawing a big oval in the center and then eight lines radiating from it. Next, write the title and author’s name in the center of the ovals. Now ask your child to look closely at the book’s front and back cover art, to consider the possible meaning(s) of the title, and to think about what it all might mean from a character personality and plot line standpoint.

Judge a book by its cover Graphic Organzier Activity

Judging a Book by its Cover

My little girl used Grammy-nominated kindie musician Justin Roberts‘ debut children’s book for her first graphic organizer activity. We’ve long adored Roberts’ whip smart pop-rock family music and couldn’t wait to flip through the pages of his first ever children’s picture book, The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade, which was just published this fall. My 7-year-old daughter wrote out eight ideas she had about the book based on the title and artwork onto the eight lines of her first graphic organizer. She thought the smallest girl would be a know-it-all, a teacher’s pet, and a bit clumsy, and that the class was a very good one. Did she judge correctly? Can you judge a book by its cover? Let’s see!

Judge a book by its cover Graphic Organzier Activity Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade Reading

Wrapping it Up

Read the book together and then complete the second graphic organizer with eight actual plot points and character details from the book. Did your child judge correctly? My girl was way, way off. I won’t go all “spoiler alert” here because you’ll want to check out The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade yourself, but that class of kids would most certainly NOT be defined as “good!”

I guess it’s true then, you can’t judge a book by its cover!


Bonus Tip

How would your kiddo like to use concept artwork sketches, a title, and some illustrated sample pages to judge a book that doesn’t even exist yet by its future cover?! It’s simple! To make this novel bonus idea work, use a graphic organizer in conjunction with kickstarting a kid’s picture book like Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish by Chris Routly. You and your little reader can check out some sketches Routly originally drew for his oldest son, look over a few fully illustrated sample pages, gaze at the bright and fun cover art and even watch the author’s video for more clues about the plot. After the crowdsourcing campaign is successful and the finished product is delivered to you, read it, draw up another graphic organizer to see if you guessed correctly a few months prior, and know that you played a major role in a brand new original book being published—a book that also probably cannot be judged by its cover!

Judge a book by its cover Graphic Organzier Activity Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade Reading

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About Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad who writes humorously about parenting and All Things Childhood on his site Out With The Kids. He is married to an adorable redheaded gal and has two lovely little ladies 12 and under who provide him with countless hours of humorous in-home entertainment, and who get to hear, see, and play with more cool stuff than you can possibly imagine.

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