OBSERVATIONS · picture books · slice of life

Book Jacket Graveyards

Left: Two of the many book jacket graveyards in our home. Right: Little Elliot, Big City's cover without the book jacket.
Left: Two of the many book jacket graveyards in our home. Right: Little Elliot, Big City’s cover without the book jacket.

We have book jacket graveyards all over our house.  There’s a large one in Isabelle’s closet.  There’s another one in our exercise room’s closet. There are some that live in the classrooms of an elementary school as classroom decor.  There are even some book jackets hiding in her playroom atop her shelves.  (Let me be honest: There are many that have probably been recycled into other things since the there were too many book jackets to house in our home about a year ago.  Yes, I ‘threw away’ book jackets. I can’t tell you how badly I feel about that now.)

Isabelle’s disdain of book jackets goes back to 2012 when she had enough dexterity to remove them from the hardcover books they protected.  She didn’t seem to care that they looked nicer with the jackets on.  As soon as a new book entered our house, she would immediately remove the jacket in haste and toss it to the side.  It irked me to no end, which I suppose is why she kept doing it.

But then Little Elliot, Big City arrived.  She removed the book jacket.  I groaned.

“It’s not the same,” she remarked. She flipped between the plain blue book cover with a solitary elephant and the book jacket with a NY cityscape and Little Elliot.

“You’re right. They’re not the same. The book jacket has much more detail.  Why don’t you put it back on?”

“No,” she dismissed me.

“I’m worried that Little Elliot is going to get cold,” I said, completely b.s.-ing her.

“Oh,” she looked concerned.

Then, ever so slowly she grabbed the book jacket. She placed it on top of the book. “Get warm, Eh-wee-uht!”

“I think you’ll need to put the book jacket back on if you want to keep him warm, Isabelle.”

She tried to wrap the book jacket around the book, but seeing as she’d never done this before, she was unsure of how to get it back on. “I can’t!” she exclaimed.

“You can’t do it yet because you’ve never done it before. Here, let me help you.” I showed her, step-by-step, how to get a book jacket back on to a book.

Isabelle has lots of #respect for Little Elliot! (All of the books below Little Elliott, Big City are jacket-less!)
Isabelle has lots of respect for Little Elliot! (All of the books below Little Elliott, Big City are jacket-less!)

“Little Eh-wee-uht is warm,” she said.

“Yes, he is warm,” I replied, satisfied.

“Keep your jacket on, Eh-wee-uht!”

“Will you help him keep his jacket on, Isabelle?”

“Yes, I wuv Eh-wee-uht. I keep him warm,” she replied.

“I will keep him warm,” I corrected.

“I will keep him warm,” she parroted back.

“Yes.  PLEASE!” I said.

It’s been about five days that Elliott has kept his jacket on.  It’s the ONLY book of Isabelle’s that’s wearing it’s book jacket.  And that makes me one very happy book-jacket-loving person!


Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com on Tuesday for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com on Tuesday for more slices of life.

18 thoughts on “Book Jacket Graveyards

  1. I love what you write about your daughter. This is precious and shows how smart you are as a mom and educator, though we all already know this. Love how you emphasized that great word “yet” (thank you Peter Johnston) because I think this would be such a wonderful piece for other moms to read. There should be a book jacket heaven. I am going to brainstorm what one might do with these say for writing prompts or thinking prompts. If they were laminated somehow and then re-used. Who knows you might inspire lots of creative thought on that issue as well as the main one of going with the flow of your child’s choosing and helping her to consider the needs of others, even a character on a book’s real cover board. Lovely. And thank you.

    1. Maybe I’ll start thinking about the ones that have been recycled as being in book jacket heaven. That feels much sweeter than thinking of them as a shopping bag at the mall! As for the ones in our at-home graveyards, I’m hoping they find their way back to the actual picture books sooner rather than later.

      As for the yet, it’s a word I’ve started using with her a lot. It’s such an easy way to nurture a growth mindset in our kids, isn’t it?

  2. Stacey, I wuv this Slice! It is so funny that her removing the book jackets irked you so. How thoughtful of her to notice the difference in the covers, and how thoughtful of you to notice that Elliott was cold! This had me smiling the whole way through. And, as a side note, I also wuv that Mem Fox book I spy underneath. We love it, we love it, said Bonnie and Ben. How does it go? Can you say it again? LOVE!

  3. How smart of Isabelle to discover that the cover underneath was not the same as the jacket. I can see how the jacket is an annoyance to her, I vaguely remember that as a child. They were too hard to keep on and read. So one day you will be able to refit all the books with their cover, just not yet. 🙂

  4. What a sweet story that made me smile the whole way through. Isabelle is right though, sometimes the book covers are an annoyance. I loved the way you encouraged her to keep Elliot warm. Such a fun read.

  5. Love this –she is a piece of work! I love her spunk and voice in each slice. Today the book jacket fell off Blackout as I was doing a read aloud to a 2nd grade class. I did not want to be distracted so I just quickly slipped it under my chair … these friends did not let me get away with that so easily. They too noticed the difference between the jacket and cover and wanted to discuss why the illustrator made them different. Your piece brought me right back to my slice earlier today. Thank you.

  6. What a novel way to get Isabelle to replace the book jacket. I love looking at the jackets on books and sometimes wonder if the jacket has anything to do with the story. There were some books that I did read that I couldn’t see the connection between the jacket and the story inside. I guess I am just not a creative thinker.

  7. Great post, Stacey! I could hear Isabelle and feel her satisfaction when she finally accomplished her goal. And what a great lesson on the power of “yet” for us as educators! Has Isabelle ever encountered a book that has no illustration on the cover under the jacket? I’ve heard kids call them “ugly books.”

  8. I know that we’re never sure when our children will express a “new” way of doing things that we don’t like. What a dilemma, to let her do it because she’s starting to make choices, or not. You’re so patient Stacey, & it is funny to hear about the book jackets everywhere! I have a bunch that I saved from the library (they don’t always keep them) & keep thinking I’ll cut them up for collage or something. Glad little Elliot is warm!

  9. I’m kind of with Isabelle. I love a beautiful book jacket, but they are just not convenient when you read, especially when you read aloud. I often read a naked book, taking the jacket off to to read and putting it back on when I out it back on the shelf.

  10. As a recovering librarian I love book jackets. When I learned my grandkids toss them I was crushed. Until I realized they still love the books inside them.

  11. Like Adrienne, I sometimes take book jackets off while I’m reading, but I always put them back on when I’m finished with a book. So clever of you to get Isabelle to put the jacket back on to keep Elliot warm. We can’t have cold elephants, can we?

  12. I have it on good authority that Eh-wee-uht does love staying warm in his jacket, but every now and then likes to take it off and enjoy the breeze. He also told me that he loves reading time with Isabelle ❤

  13. Catchy title. It’s hard to keep a book jacket on when the book is warmed by reader’s love. The choice seems to be between keep it pretty or use it often. Sad because the covers are often pieces of art and tell additional story.

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