Coast-to-Coast Book Design—Part 3: Brainstorming the Book

By Monique Fineman, April 30, 2007

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One to two fifty-minute class periods


This lesson is part three of a unit on book design. Since design encompasses many areas of life, students will explore design by focusing on book design. This lesson explains how the book project will work and leads students through the brainstorming process to come up with ideas for the pages.

National Standards

Visual Arts
Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes Standard 2. Using knowledge of structures and functions Standard 3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas Standard 6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Language Arts
Standard 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g. spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Text Types and Purposes:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2.A Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories as appropriate to achieving purpose; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2.B Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

 Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

 Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.



In this lesson, students will:
  • learn about the concept of designing a book
  • learn the steps that are taken to publish a book
  • brainstorm ideas for the content of their book



design layout illustration publishing


Part One: Exploring
  • Divide the class into groups.
  • Give each group a variety of A-B-C books to explore.
  • Write on the board: “What is an A-B-C book?”
  • Have students discuss within their groups the similarities and differences between the books.
  • After short discussion within the groups, have students share their findings with the class. Encourage the students to notice the layout of the books, the page design, the composition, the layout of the cover, etc.
  Part Two: The Project
  • Explain to the students that they will be creating an A-B-C book and publishing the book in hardbound form.
  • Have students explain what “publishing” means. Schools have varying degrees in which their students publish writing in ELA. Check with your ELA department ahead of time so you understand the discussion the students are having about publishing. Write the vocabulary words on your word wall.
  • Explain to the students that they will be creating a book with another class (either from your same school, another school, or from a school across the country). (When I implemented this lesson in class, I worked with a teacher who taught on Catalina Island, CA while I teach in Brooklyn, NY. You can certainly do the lesson working with various classes or with only one class to create the book.)
  • Each student will create one page for the A-B-C book. The students will vote on the pages and only one page for each letter (from each school) will be published in the final book. The theme for the book is “Coast to Coast A-B-C”.
  Part Three: The Brainstorming
  • Explain to the students that one of the most important parts of design is brainstorming or “coming up the ideas.”
  • For this book, students will find inspiration for each letter in the alphabet from their particular area of the country, their school, their neighborhood, etc. Example: The letter “B” might stand for “Bagel” in Brooklyn while in Catalina it may stand for “Bison.” It is important to encourage the students to think of ideas that are unique to their area.
  • Have students share their ideas.
  • For homework in their notebooks: Students will write at least one idea for each letter of the alphabet.


  • Classroom discussion
  • Finished list of ideas

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • Challenge students to find five ideas for each letter.
  • Students could also find and bring in pictures for ideas if writing is a challenge.

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