Book cover design has its challenges for all ages. When the books that I make with children have a title page, rather than repeat the title page info up front, I like students to design a visually stunning cover. I used to give first graders lots of bits of cut paper, with the directions that they should cut and glue a nice design on to their covers. Those of you who work with first graders know exactly how that goes…..I’ve tried many approaches to the cover graphics, and recently I tried something out that is an elementary version of something I have done with adults. I was happy with the results, so here it is.
I started out by letting students pick just one strip of 2″ x 8″ paper. They then took just two small pieces of paper from an assortment of bits of paper that were in a box. The technique that I encouraged was specific:
make just three or four cuts in the larger paper, to create small cut-outs
make just one cut in just one of the smaller pieces
arrange the papers on the cover so that the cut-outs from the larger paper are near to the places they were cut from
arrange the other piece as desired and glue down well.
I think I also mentioned something about “less is more” to these budding graphic designers. Most of the students were able to resist the urge to cut and paste any which way, and they came up with a variety of really fine book covers.
An added bonus to this technique, besides looking good it took only minutes for these designs to be completed.
Now, here’s some cut paper designs, using a similar method of working, that I do with adults.
Most first graders aren’t up to creatively cutting long edges of paper, but that will change in a few years. For now, a few snips here and there, and thoughtful placement works just fine.