Do “Quick Picks” book covers appeal to middle school readers? The impact of covers on self -selection of fiction books in the middle school library setting
Jones, Leigh Ann
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Middle school students use a variety of methods to self-select fiction books in the school library setting. Among these are choosing the book by an appealing cover, the author, the genre, the cover blurb, the length, its place in a series, or by recommendation from a friend or librarian. By using the covers of the fiction books reviewed for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders of the 2005 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list, this quantitative study sought to determine how book covers impact the self-selection strategies of middle school readers and whether specific aspects of the covers hold appeal to these students. The study also explored the relationship of grade, gender, and level of reading enjoyment on the selection of fiction books. A self-selected sample of 250 students from a north central Texas middle school completed an online questionnaire using covers from the 2005 Quick Picks list. Students indicated specific elements they liked and marked which of the 19 books they would check out based on merits of the cover alone. These readers specified how they usually choose fiction books in the school library and noted whether they love, like, or didn't like to read. Data from questionnaires were statistically analyzed, and by using a nonparametric analysis, the Friedman post hoc test, it was determined that cover was the most influential factor for readers in this study. By using modal responses for specific attributes, it was learned that students prefer font more often than the elements of character(s) or pictures, colors, design, or mood. A student's grade and his/her level of reading enjoyment were not shown to be statistically significant. Females were slightly more impacted by covers than were males. Librarians who wish to be effective in readers' advisory must read widely and may wish to incorporate the images of, and information about, book covers into their booktalks for students.