Inspiring Future Illustrators: Creating Digital Book Covers

Emma Foley
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on June 14 2022

Students already know an eye-catching book cover makes a book stand out on the shelf. Chances are, your students aren’t reading the short synopsis on the back cover before they check a book out of your school’s library. Most students are basing their selection on the cover. Why not give our students a chance to experience what it’s like to be an illustrator? A digital book cover design challenge is just the activity to give them a taste of the process!

Not only is there a variety of online programs that students can use to help them through the design process, but some of these programs even come loaded with a number of book cover design templates with different themes and genres. Students don’t need to start from scratch; instead, they can select from one of the editable book cover templates and customize it using easy-to-use design tools. Let’s take a deeper look into some of these programs.


Canva might be one of our favorite programs when it comes to any sort of design activity in the classroom. With a free account, students can use its graphic design features to design flyers and other signage, bookmarks, tickets, newsletters, book covers, and so much more. Basically, you can think of Canva as a simplified version of Photoshop that’s free, so your students don’t need extensive photo editing knowledge to use it!

Canva features ready-to-go templates for all your major genres, so there’s really no need to hold back. With a free Canva account, students have access to more than 50,000 templates to choose from. Of course, some of them will be more applicable to the book cover design project than others, but just knowing how much is available is worth mentioning for other projects you may have in mind. Students can be tasked with designing a new book cover for a book they have been assigned to read, or they can design a cover for an original writing piece. They can upload their own photo(s) and add them to Canva’s templates using a drag and drop interface. Don’t forget that a book cover is more than just the front – you can have students design an entire book jacket with quotes, blurbs, author bios, and more!

Search results for "book cover" in Canva.

There is also a suite of features in Canva that will help students to make their book cover stand out. Students can experiment with basic cropping and repositioning, textured backgrounds, adding/removing text boxes, adjusting text size and spacing, and repositioning and deconstructing stock images to fit their vision. The side toolbar houses photos, stickers, audio, and other media available for students to add into their page as they design their digital cover.

Check out the steps below to get started. If you are excited about getting this project started in your classroom but want to get familiar with Canva and all it has to offer first, you can always check out some of their free video tutorials or start with their Design School course, perfect for first time users. 

Step-by-step instructions to create book covers using Canva.

Google Workspace

Pretty much any of the applications within Google Workspace can help you as you create an interactive bookshelf for your classroom. In Google Docs, students can adjust the background color for their cover (right click), use the top toolbar to add clipart, or even draw original images by embedding a Google Drawing in the document. For your students who are not quite sure where to start, Google Drawings offers a variety of templates that can be edited such as this one here. You could also design your own template with embedded directions for your students and share with students.

App smashing? Why not!

If you are new to the idea of “app smashing,” it is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. App smashing can be really powerful in the classroom as it provides students with creative and inspiring ways to showcase what they’ve learned, and gives the teacher a better understanding of students’  knowledge and skills.

When it comes to App Smashing in Google Workspace, students could start the project by designing their book cover in a Google Drawing and then save and add their cover to a collaborative Google Slides presentation to appear alongside their classmates’ designs on a digital shelf. Students could use the linking feature within Slides to hyperlink their book cover to a different slide within the presentation. On the linked slide, students would type a brief description of their literature. Once all students have added their additional slide, you could include a “home” icon on each slide that would take a viewer back to the main bookshelf slide! This can be completed as an independent project by having a student create a personal shelf to keep track of all the books they have read. Think of it as a spin on a digital reading log!


Ever heard of  fotor? It shares a lot of similarities with Canva, offering a variety of book cover design templates covering all kinds of themes and book genres. This keeps students from having to start from scratch. Instead, they can get right to adjusting photos, adding text boxes, switching out background colors, and adding other elements all from the left toolbar.

They also have a tutorial section featured at the bottom of that same toolbar that will help your students to get started with designing. From the tutorial, students can start browsing the easy-to-access examples to find inspiration.

To learn more about Canva, Google Workspace, digital book covers and much more, check out our courses on our online professional development platform OTIS for educators.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

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