Students’ Thoughts About Book Covers

In 2012 I polled both my Young Adult Literature class and my freshmen classes to learn their opinions about book covers. The results were enlightening. During the spring one of my Facebook “memories that popped up was when I shared those posts; I had forgotten that I polled my students about that. I decided to poll my current freshmen to see what they think, especially if they feel similarly to my students from 2012.

I asked all of the same questions as I did in my previous poll. I also included the option for them to share which book covers they like and why. In 2012 I printed off a survey and passed it out to my students. This year I created a Google Form and linked it to my students’ Google Classroom page. Out of my 53 freshmen, 49 of them responded (12 boys and 37 girls).

I have graphic breakdowns for the first two questions and I’m including a variety of the responses to the remaining questions.

Book Cover Graphs

What color combination on a book cover draws your attention the most?

“I just need color schemes that represent the theme of the book, as long as it’s accurate I don’t care. For example, a book that has darker themes probably has a darker cover, and books with lighter themes have lighter colors. I would read both, but I like that it gives me an insight to how this book is going to go.”


“The color combination does not effect my thoughts on a book. To me it depends if the book grabs the readers attention.”


“A black and red combination, but I also read just black covers with drawings as well.”


“I’m drawn to really any colors, but some colors are green, puarple, and blue, anything that is attention grabbing as well.”


“Usually I am drawn to brighter colors on the cover of my books. I usually am attracted to them more because they stand out to me.”


“I feel color scheme needs to be related to the mood or the events that will take place within a book. The book needs a good combination that makes it pop out more than the other books around it. One color will not do the trick, unless that is what the book will be like. The cover has to represent the book as a whole, or otherwise I will not be able to get interested in it.”


“Opposite colors (Ex. Black and white, purple and yellow, etc.) or colors that compliment each other”


“Probably clashing colors, something that makes it stand out, such as the black and green cover for Liars Inc..”


“For me, I do not look for a specific color combination. If I like how the cover looks with that color combination I will check it out to see if I would like the book.”


“When looking for a book, I look for simple, white backgrounds with only a few notable words. I am drawn in by a clean look.”


Is font style and placement important to you? Explain.
“No, as long as I can read what it says”


“Yes. When an author’s name is bigger than the title, I will not read the book. If the font is curly and cute, I will assume that the book is sweet and romantic, so I will not read it. I guess I have a lot of expectations from my book covers.”


“Yes, if a title or author is in a spot or font where I cannot see nor read it, or blocks the cover in a certain way, that immediately says “DO NOT READ!” to me.”


“Not really. I will notice if I don’t like it, but it doesn’t really stop be from reading it.”


“Yes, because the font should fit the style of the book, and the placement helps add more reason for someone to want to read it, and tends to draw the reader in.”


“Yes, because if a book covers a dark topic, I don’t want them to have super “pretty” hand writing unless there is a god reason. For example, if a girl is writing a letter in the book, it is okay to have nice hand writing.”


“The font for me should match the tone of the book. For example, if it were a serious book then I would expect the font to e a sharped or jagged edge type of lettering, not a rounded font.”


“YES, I love it when there is a different font for the cover, and it helps show what the book can be about.”


“Font and style is very important to me because it should help show the mood of the book. Font and its style should be adding a great expression to the book or accent the feel of how the novel is.”


“I like certain fonts for the cover. I also like texture, which sounds weird. I love the matte book covers rather then the glossy covers.”


“Font is the most important, “despite the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” a font can tell you quite a lot about the book like weather or not its an intense horror book with jagged words or a love story with cursive.”


“Yes, its very important. It has to be an interesting font to catch my attention or else I will scan right over that book. I also really don’t like it when the Authors name is bigger than the title because I feel it takes away from the book title/cover.”


Would you feel comfortable reading a book w/a gender-specific feel to it? (Guys reading a book w/a “girly” cover.)
**Note: In every class we have the conversation about books being for every reader, not just certain genders.**


“Yes because I think that either gender can read any type of book if it interests them.”




“Yes, because it doesn’t really matter about the gender or cover. If the book sounds good and is good and you like it, then it’s fine.”


“Totally. It should not matter who the targeted audience was. Maybe that person wants to see life from another point of view…I think it’s completely acceptable, and there should be no bias against it.”


“Yes, I do feel comfortable reading a book with a gender specific feel to it because some of my favorite books have male characters on the cover, and is even about a guy.”


“Yes, one of my favorite books has a more of guy-ish feel when you see the cover. (Divergent)”


“I personally don’t care because I will read any book if it interests me, whether it’s meant to be a “guy” book or a “girl” book. However I do think that a lot of guys care a lot more, so I wish that book covers weren’t as gender specific as they are.”


“Yes, it does not bother me. A book is a book, as long as it is good it would not matter to me.”


“I prefer a guy feel and protagonist because it is more relatable, but I’m fine with both.”


“I don’t mind reading books with the opposite gender, Like Winger, I like see how they feel about things.”


“I feel like for girls it’s not as big of a deal because guy books don’t really seem like they are just for guys. But for some reason people think its “weird” and “gay” for guys to want to read a girly or romance book”

“Yes, I am a girl though and girls usually don’t have a problem with reading “guy books”. I don’t think there is a such thing as a book that only one gender should read, because everyone understands different things and can relate to different things.”

“I don’t think there is such a thing. Girls and guys should be able to read any books that they find interesting.”


“Yes, I like when books are directed to just girls or just boys. It makes it easier to relate to the book when it is directed to your own gender.”


“nah, I stick to mostly to masculine type of books”


“Yes. I have read books of all sorts. I do not believe in “gender specific books” I believe in reading what YOU want to read. If I were to pick up a “manly” book and it wasn’t good, then I wouldn’t read it. But the quality of the book is what matters. Not the gender specific aspect of it.”


“I feel semi-comfortable reading a gender specific (girly) book, but the real deciding factor at that point is how good the book is.”


“No. Books are books. Do we really need to gender stereotype our literature?”


“I don’t mind reading books from diverse points of view. If I only read books from one point of view, I would probably be out of books to read by now.”


Do you prefer to see the character’s “face” or would you rather imagine the character on your own?


“Imagine the characters face and having it not be on the cover.”


“I like to imagine the character on my own.”


“I absolutely hate seeing the characters because I prefer to visually people, not be given a picture of what they look like, leave that up to the description. Objects and symbols provide a better clue into what the book may be about than a “face” would. Objects also make a story seem more authentic and original, rather than “oh look, a person…hmm””


“It really does not matter to me because I end up making my own Image of a character anyway, although a picture may influence my mental image,”


“I prefer both, sometimes when I’m having a tough time imagining the character, I look at the cover, but other times, I prefer to think up what the character looks like.”


“I would rather form my own opinion from the story and imagine it on my own.”


“I would prefer to imagine the “face” on my own because I feel like the sky’s the limit for book characters. I can imagine how I would want the character to look if it were me writing the novel.”


“I like seeing the characters face because if I read a book and someone is described, I always imagine someone I know. Sometimes I don’t like that because it confuses me with thinking, “oh well so and so wouldn’t do that” but then at other times I do, because after the book ends I think of what that person would do.”


“I like to imagine my own characters because I like to put myself into the situation as the characters”


“I like to imagine my own characters, especially if it gets turned into a movie and the actor/actress doesn’t look like the cover model.”


“I like for the author to describe the characters, but I don’t care for pictures.”


“I don’t have a preference, because I don’t pay attention to the models on the book when I imagine the characters.”


“I would rather leave the imagination to the reader because I am a fan of letting the reader piece parts of the story together on their own”


If possible, please provide some examples of book covers that you like and why.
The 5th Wave“The Fifth Wave, because it has colors that contrast with each other, but it didn’t slam it in your face. I also like how they don’t show what the character looks like. That way I can imagine her the way I want. Revived by Cat Patrick, was an amazing book, and had an awesome cover. It had a model on the cover which I don’t normally like, but for this one it covered a lot of her face with the blue paper so it turned out perfect”


“One that I can think of is “Out of My Mind”. It’s a fish jumping out of it’s bowl. not only is it attention grabbing and thought provoking, but when we read the story, it encompassed the main idea of the book theme wise and it was an actual occurrence in the book.”


“I like Sarah Dessen covers because some are bright and fun, when the more somber novels still are exciting to draw you in.”


Between Shades of Gray“I like Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys because the cover is simple with light colors, but has a pop of color with the leaf which attracted me to it. I also like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Sekret by Lindsay Smith because the background is really interesting and the titles are written in an unusual font which makes them unique.”


“I really liked the cover Also Known As by Robin Beckman because it has models who are representing the character and the color is intriguing. I also really like the cover of Gabi a Girl in Pieces cause the Orange is very bright.”


“But I Love Him By: Amanda Grace – This cover has the project that the main character is working on throughout the book. This helps the reader imagine something that’s very hard to explain threw words.”


“I like the book covers: 1.Moonglass- because it shows a beachy, mysterious and intriguing theme. 2.Hunger Games- because you can tell that there is something that occurs in the novel that the main character is involved in.”


“13 Reasons why- I like the cover of this book because obviously it’s the character that died on the front (Hannah Baker) and then when you open up the cover, it’s a map Hannah left Clay after she died so you can follow along in the story and see where Clay goes around his town.”


All the Rage“All the Rage- Because 1.)its creepy 2.)It’s got a blurred image of the character so you’ve got an IDEA of what she looks like, but nothing for certain and 3.) Because the font isn’t all the same, some have little cracks in them, i think the cracks add character to the cover and hints into the plot of the story.”


“Catching Jordan- I really like it because it is foreshadowing that football is going to be a big part of the book.”


“The book cover of brutal youth by Anthony Breznican is one of my favorites. It’s simple, classy, but at the same time sends a message that this is a book with serious issues.”


“Liars Inc., the colors clash well, and picture provides an eerie feeling”


“I Am Not A Serial Killer’s cover because of the striking font. Also the cover of Gone because it is dark and has lots of black with green which comes across as dangerous and mysterious.”


“I LOVE the original book cover for ‘The Book Thief.’ It was the one where Liesel was dancing with death in the black coat. I felt like it represented the novel without being horribly cliché, which is something that gets old when you see a thousand books of cute girls in dresses in fields kissing some boy. The cover for ‘The Book Thief’ was original and interesting.”


“I really like the cover of It’s Kind Of a Funny Story because it is very interesting and shows the book in a very cool way without showing a character.”


Every Day“Everyday: The color scheme (tan, black, white) of the book depicts the story very well along with the floating bodies that A could inhabit.”


“I like the cover of “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” because it looks so mysterious and interesting”


“I liked the cover of Panic by Lauren Oliver. You do see the face of the main character, but it has a mysterious tone to it.”


“Things We Know by Heart because the hearts on the cover goes from a real human heart to a drawing of a heart.”


“I like the book cover Paper Towns with the pin and map, because in the book there is a part to the cover. I liked this book called 100 Cupboards, because the cover shows the different kinds of cupboards that the book talks about. Also, The Book Thief, with the dominos, because this isn’t in the book, but it has a meaning to the story, that yo can connect yourself at the end of the story.”


“I liked to covers of Grasshopper Jungle (the newer not plain green one), Winger, High and Dry, and Freefall.”




  1. Courtney Leigh says:

    This was absolutely engrossing. I especially loved reading their thoughts on gender-biased covers. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Thank you! This year’s group was really opinionated about everything. It was so much fun listening to them and learning with them.

  2. Thank you for sharing your students’ feedback. So enlightening!

  3. I love seeing into the perceptions of teens on any subject, but especially when it has to do with books. Thanks so much for sharing! (And I agree with all of their suggested covers, especially All the Rage).

  4. Hey, I’ve nominated you for the Infinity Dreams award 🙂


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