Education

Colleagues

April 01, 2001 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a nice concept, but educators know the attractiveness of a cover illustration often determines whether a student checks out a book from the library—or leaves it collecting dust on the shelf. Unfortunately, many school librarians facing budget cuts save money by having old books rebound and returned without covers.

That’s what Jack Maxwell, the library media specialist at Hamilton Accelerated Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, did until about six years ago, when he hit upon the idea of having students in his Library Reading Club illustrate new covers for tattered books.

The club’s 100 or so members—students reading at the 2nd grade level and above— read library books, then draw pictures or download computer clip art to create jazzy new covers. The students get to place their names along with the authors’ on the new jackets, which local senior citizen volunteers then laminate for protection. Club members also write reviews that are placed in a folder in the library to inspire other students to pick up the books. A clear purpose for reading a book and a goal that includes the opportunity to share one’s work with peers “gets the kids interested in reading,” Maxwell says.

Currently, students’ work decorates about 500 of the 11,000 hardbacks in the library. Maxwell says he’s pleased with the

effort’s success. In fact, he’s tracked a few of the books and discovered that they are checked out three times more often than other library books—even books with the same title. Students at Hamilton often “forgo the one [book] with the company’s picture” for another copy featuring a fellow student’s artwork, he says, and kids encourage their pals to borrow books with covers created by siblings or friends.

Amanda McFarland participated in the Library Reading Club last year. “I learned to read different types of books and what they could do to help you,” she says. Amanda, now a 6th grader at Hamilton, hopes to one day write books.

Funding his program through grants and award money, Maxwell is committed to encouraging reading among Hamilton students. “Without a foundation in reading, you’re not going to be able to do anything,” he says. “Reading is the foundation for all other subjects and on which all future success is built.”

—Marisha Goldhamer

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 1, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 18, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP