Five Creative Ideas for Picture Book Dust Jackets

I recently make a big confession over on Instagram

You know what dust jackets are, right? Those paper covers that come on every hardback book? Made of beautiful thick paper? Covered in gorgeous illustrations? The things that actually entice you to open the book in the first place? 

I can’t STAND them. 

What’s a book lover to do?

They get in my way when I’m reading, and they tear along the edges. I think my kids agree, too—they take the dust jackets off and leave them laying around everywhere. I admitted as much to my Instagram followers, and found out that I am not alone. There were tons of comments from people who agree that dust jackets are the worst.

So, what’s a book lover to do? I am currently stashing those pesky covers in a dresser drawer, but it’s getting a bit crowded in there. Here are five better ideas.

1. Frame Them

How many times have you seen a book and called it frame-worthy? Now’s your chance. 

Chris Van Allsburg’s surrealist pencil drawings won a Caldecott for Jumanji in 1982, and the cover is just about perfect for my son’s room. Do you have a favorite book to display? 


2. Make Bunting

Get the tutorial

Get the tutorial

This simple project idea is a winner for storybook-themed baby showers and birthdays, reading nooks, playrooms, classroom libraries, or any space that needs a pop of color. 

Check out this post to see how I made a flag bunting from the dust jacket of Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.


3. Pinwheels

Kids love this fun paper project! It would be especially good for a group of people.

My pinwheel is made from the dust jacket of Not All Princesses Dress in Pink—a collaboration from Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple. I chose this cover because of its bright-on-black color scheme, but you can choose whatever speaks to you (of course).

I followed the pinwheel instructions on this Art Bar post, with just a few modifications. I used a low-heat glue gun to secure the extra-thick cover stock and added a bead to the center. 


4. Poster Covers

Kids book authors and illustrators are certainly “outside-the-box” thinkers, but a few have gone “outside-the-book” as well and created dust jackets with a purpose. Here are two books with dust jackets that fold out to full-size posters.

This Bridge Will Not be Gray, story by Dave Eggers and Art by Tucker Nichols (McSweeney’s)

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in an iconic wonder. But why is it orange? This book tells the bridge’s story through quirky paper-cutouts and prose. It’s a must-have history lesson for families and fans of architecture, design, travel, and sticktoitiveness. 

A Journey Through the Human Body, by John Haslam and Steve Parker (Quarto)

I am always in the market for engaging nonfiction for my kids, and this fun biology book fits the bill perfectly. It explores the human body systems with crisp illustrations and super-engaging text. The recommended age is six-to-eight-years-old, but my preschoolers and I are equally enthralled with the fun facts it packs in. Did you know that your hair grows by the width of your finger every month?  

5. Recycle them.

I mean, who are we kidding. KonMari that mess.

This is one that I am slowly working up to! I can’t frame and create paper art from ALL of the dust jackets we own, but I can’t seem to get rid of any part of the books I love.

What about you? Anybody out there have other fun ideas for dust jackets? Tell me in the comments, on Facebook, or on Instagram.