Book Covers For Children’s Books: What Makes Them Memorable And Enticing?

Many of us admire the covers of old books , especially those for children. I personally love the art on them and the embossed look that many have, which turns them into something beautiful to treasure.

This was known as the ‘Golden Age’ in children’s literature, ‘a period dating from around 1880 to the early twentieth century—is today regarded as a literary epoch that produced some of the finest works of art ever created for children’s literature.’

Stuart Hood and J.F.Shaw
Illustrated by A.E. Bestall

Jen Doll, talking about covers of children’s books she read…

I’m usually drawn immediately to the ones that fronted the editions of the books that I read as a kid. Those are the ones that I see and think, Oh yes, old friend, I remember you! Far less evocative are the later versions, which don’t hold that same familiarity, even if they’re interesting in the way they reveal how book design has changed over the years, or the earlier ones, which are appealingly retro but still aren’t those books I read under the covers at night by flashlight. The content of the books and stories are the same, of course, but the covers make them different. 

In 2016, Monica Costa, who founded London Mums, gave her list of the ten of the most iconic children’s book covers of all time. These are the books that grannies, mums and children of today will remember. They range over a wide time period.

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)
  • Where’s Spot? By Eric Hill (1980)
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964)
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1922)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)
  • Curious George by H. A. Rey (1941)
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902)
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (1926)
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (1999)

What would be your list of ten iconic book covers?

So What Makes A Good Book Cover for A Children’s Book?

COLOURS: Well, definitely the use of bright colours attracts children and especially the younger child.

TITLE AND FONT: An interesting title will intrigue an older child and again the type of font and use of colour can make a huge difference to the look of a book cover.

CONTENT: What the illustration conveys on the front cover should reveal what is in the book. Children will be attracted by a humorous picture, something they can identify with , and something that looks really imaginative. Parents will be attracted by something beautiful or fun looking. For the middle grade child the hint in the illustration of what an adventure might be about will draw them in.

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