We have heard this a thousand times before “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” And mostly we are referring to judging a person. But I decided to take this back to books.
I have noticed that students end up selecting books by one particular author, or subject matter, or genre etc. And no matter how hard I tried, putting something else in their hands never worked. They would look at it and then say ehh. Or they would grab what ever their friends were returning, since it most likely fell into the realm of what they always read. Well I decided to put a little challenge in front of them.
Allow me to introduce the Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover challenge.
I have 24 book choices
Students will not get to see the covers of the books
They will not get to see the titles of the books
They will not get to see the authors of the books
The only thing they do get are three lines that describe the plot of the book. Examples are: Young girl forced to live with her mean uncle; Unlikely friendship; The bully becomes the bullied; Small town mystery has everyone pointing fingers; Former boxer turned humanitarian; etc.
The books range from fiction, biographies, poetry, and story collections. Once the student picks the plot point he/she likes we give them the book, with these rules
1) they must take it even if they think they are going to hate it after seeing the cover (tough all part of the challenge)
2) they must read it for at least one week. If after the week they don’t like they can bring it back but they have to give us (meaning me and their language arts teacher) reason why they do not like it. We will test them to see if they actually read it.
I thought this was going to be dead in the water, but surprisingly enough the students have really responded to it. Some have even asked if the books they selected have sequels cause they really liked the story. Others have said they didn’t like it, but read it anyway because they didn’t want to leave undone. But the good thing is, I now know what they like and don’t like, so when they come to me asking what they should read I can provide them with more informed recommendations. It has been a fun experiment with a very rewarding payoff.