We can do more than just read to our young children.

Teaching Kids How to Make a Book Jacket

by Jennifer Zimmerman

Many of today's parents remember, with varying degrees of fondness, the days of turning brown paper grocery bags into book jackets. Back in those days, it was about protecting the book and quite possibly learning how to deal with frustration. For today's kids, making book jackets is about extending comprehension while maybe protecting the book in question. When teaching preschoolers how to make a book jacket, parents will need to be very involved.

Book Choice

Choosing the right book for a book jacket is an important part of the process. Your preschooler won't be motivated to work with you on a book she dislikes or doesn't understand. A tattered copy of a favorite book is a good option. The book should be large enough to handle a cover, such as a typically sized picture book or larger board book. But you don't want it to be so large that your child has trouble manipulating it by herself.

The Summary

Book jackets usually include a summary of what happens in the book. Your typical preschooler is not ready to write a book summary. She may not even be ready to tell you a summary. But she can tell you about the story, especially if she's familiar with it. Though kids this age may be doing some writing, you should definitely do the writing for the book jacket. Write down what your child says on lined paper that you've cut into a square that is 4 inches by 4 inches. You can motivate her by letting her know that she'll get to glue these onto the book jacket. If your little one has a lot to say, continue onto another 4 inch by 4 inch square of lined paper. Then set these aside.


Next show your kiddo how to place the book on your piece of drawing or construction paper. Paper that measures 12 inches by 18 inches is probably a good size for most picture books, but you can always cut the paper so that it leaves about a 2-inch border on the top and bottom and a 5-inch border on the sides. Kids can definitely open the book with the spine down, but you'll probably need to show them how to fold each end of the construction paper around the book's cover. For kids under 5 years old, you may have to do it with them each time.

Gluing and Drawing

Preschoolers are ready to glue and to draw, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics. So you can let your child glue the book summary onto the inner page flaps of the book jacket. If you want the jacket to be permanent, help your kid glue the folds you made together down as well. Then encourage her to draw a picture on the front of the jacket that has to do with the book.

About the Author

Jennifer Zimmerman is a former preschool and elementary teacher who has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written numerous articles for The Bump, Band Back Together, Prefab and other websites, and has edited scripts and reports for DWJ Television and Inversion Productions. She is a graduate of Boston University and Lewis and Clark College.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images