The Jacket Cover Synopsis

This is the fourth and final post in this fall’s Reading Strategies series.

How do you choose a book to read? Recommendation of a friend? Book review in the paper? Best seller list? An attractive cover design? There are many reasons for choosing a book, but most involve a summary of the story that draws you in. It turns out that the inside jacket cover may be the most important piece of writing that an author produces. Once the book is in hand, it’s often those few paragraphs that decide whether or not the reader will commit. It’s the first impression; the not so subtle flirt that seduces us into the story. It must deliver enough character, setting and story to cause us to beg for more.

Encourage children to read the jacket covers to build interest and ground them in the story setting. This practice increases comprehension as students better relate to the story.

In the classroom, providing students with a “jacket cover synopsis” supports comprehension building skills. With just a short summary of what the story is about, students get grounded in the setting and develop a connection to the characters, enabling them to read with purpose. The summary serves as an anchor that they can tie to action, detail and even challenging vocabulary.

Equally important to building reading muscle is to check for understanding by having your students retell the story at the end. To keep it interesting, have them change a key aspect of the story: what if the pig built an igloo instead of a house of straw? Triggering a child’s imagination is an invitation to his or her curiosity. And it’s curiosity, after all, that compels us to move from the inside jacket cover to Chapter One.

– Pat Abrams, Executive Director

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