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Got it covered

Give your favourite book a new lease of life by creating a cover. How will you showcase the best bits?
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • A4 paper
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Books

Looking for a new story to read?

Check out EmpathyLab’s 2020 reading collections, bursting with books that explore different ways of life and challenges people face.

Build empathy

Before you begin

  • Ask everyone to bring in a favourite book to show the group. It’s a good idea for everyone to put their name inside their book first.
  • People could bring library books – they could paperclip a bit of paper with their name on inside the cover (instead of writing on the book).
  • People could also bring a book they’d like to read.
  • People can choose fiction or non-fiction books.
  • Gather a few spare books in case anyone forgets or isn’t able to get a book. Try to choose stories that everyone knows, or non-fiction books about fun topics such as space or animals.

Share books

  1. Everyone should form two lines that face each other.
  2. Everyone should show the person opposite them their book. They could tell them a bit about it. Both people should share their books – it doesn’t matter who goes first.
  3. Everyone in one of the lines should take a step to their right, so they’re facing a new person. The person at the end should walk up the line to stand in the space that’s opened up.
  4. Everyone should repeat step two.
  1. Everyone should sit in a circle, holding their book.
  2. Everyone should think quietly about their book cover. How big is the title? Is there a picture on the front, and what does it tell people about the book? What other things are written on the cover?
  3. The person leading the activity should ask one or two people who were thinking hard to share their ideas with everyone else.

Create a cover

  1. The person leading the activity should give everyone a piece of paper.
  2. Everyone should fold their paper in half so it looks like a card (or a book cover!).
  3. Everyone should use all of the craft materials to design a new cover for their book. They should make sure to add the title and the author’s name. They should try and make it bright and bold so it’s eye-catching – book covers should make people want to choose the book in a bookshop or library.
  4. People should add detail to the back of their book – how about a short blurb (a description of the story), their opinion about the book, or a picture of the author?
  5. Everyone could add in some extra fancy elements such as a lift-up flap, a border of ribbon, or pom-poms and buttons.

Share the new covers

  1. Everyone should get back into two lines that face each other.
  2. Everyone should show the person opposite them their new book cover. They should explain what their book is about, why they chose it, and what their cover tells people at the book. Why did they choose the colours and pictures they used? Why should the other person read their book?
  3. Everyone should gather back together. The person leading the activity should remind everyone that to earn their Beaver Book Reader Activity Badge, people need to read six books. Maybe they could read some of the books other people shared today!


This activity gave everyone a chance to show how they love and care for books. It also let people share their favourite book. Did this help people understand their friends a bit better? In the past, books often had plain leather covers, so they all looked similar. Why don’t books just have plain covers? It would be trickier for people to know what the book was about and if they wanted to read it. Does anyone have a favourite character in their book? Next time people go to a bookshop or library, they should look around at all of the covers. Can they guess what each book is about?


Glue and solvents

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions which could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.