Guest Post: Do we judge a book by its cover? by M @We Sat Down

Please welcome our second guest blogger from We Sat Down who prompted by last week’s guest post, talks about how her and her daughter choose books from the occasionally overwhelming array that are out there…

Last week Literature For Lads’ guest post and the announcement of the Carnegie Greenaway shortlists prompted me to think about how We Sat Down chooses its books.

When I was a teenager, apart from a few US titles, I had to flit between children’s and adults’ fiction – some of which was completely inappropriate. Today’s growing array of books out there for secondary school readers is so different. It’s like a whole new treasure trove.

But for a parent and child who’re just peeping round the edge of the 8-12 bookshelves, where do we start to dig? Often we’re faced with a sea of covers that are barely distinguishable from one another.  And browsing online can throw back thousand of hits.

We Sat Down, our personal book review blog, explores middle grade and YA books. Little M wanted to find more books that she thought she’d enjoy.  So why doesn’t she ask the librarians? “I think librarians will probably suggest girly things for me.  I just think they will. Girly books are the first thing I see in the library.”

She complained about the amount of “really, really girly books. The ones that are pinky, girly, have hearts, kiss-marks, broken hearts.” But she also didn’t want “really, really boyish books..(…).. if they have cartoons or playing football – no. They just don’t intrigue me.

Covers aside, most of Little M’s choices are based on recommendations, sometimes from friends but “you normally recommend books to me. You know the sorts of things I like. Action, adventure, science fiction, war, history. Oh, and horses. I want to find out about things and these books are more intriguing than non-fiction.

But YA is uncharted waters for me too. And while Little M thinks there’s too much pink out there, I think there’s an awful lot of red and black too. At the moment, we’re after something a bit more in between. And this is where the Carnegie Awards come in.

It’s a filtering process and while the cover can influence us, a trusted recommendation makes a world of difference. The book awards lists, not just the Carnegie, are often a good starting point in finding trusted recommendations for books and authors we might not otherwise have found.

But the thing that really clinches it – it’s always the first few pages.  Little M says, “If a book’s recommended to me, I skip the cover and go straight to the blurb. And then I read the first few pages. If I like them, I won’t put it down.  If I don’t like it, I put it down.

How do you choose your books?


We Sat Down is a personal book review blog started by mum and daughter, M & Little M.  Little M is in KS3.      Twitter: @wesatdown

Thank you M – your post is really fascinating. It’s great to see a mother and daughter reading and sharing books together.

And again, anyone interested in guest blogging for us get in touch!