8 Children’s Book Cover Ideas to Ignite the Imagination

Child holding a childrens book cover idea book on a white surface

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that a great cover entices readers and can lead to better sales. This is particularly true for children’s books. The most successful kids’ book covers excite readers and give them a taste of what’s inside. In this guide, we’ll cover eight children’s book cover ideas to captivate your young audience and tips to help you create the most successful design possible. 

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The Importance of Children’s Book Cover Designs

Children (and their parents) have so many books to choose from. In fact, the options at the library or bookstore can feel overwhelming. An appealing cover helps your book stand out on the shelf. Here’s why you shouldn’t neglect your cover design. 

Sparks Curiosity and Interest

In a world with so many distractions, getting kids interested in reading is essential. Part of that is choosing books with exciting covers. For children, book covers play a pivotal role in capturing their imagination and drawing them into the world of a story. The right cover can get a kid who is otherwise uninterested in reading to pick up a book. Images that are distinctive and interesting will have readers wanting to learn more about what’s inside. 

Sets the Tone and Mood

The cover of your book sets the tone for the story. This lets readers know what to expect, whether it’s something silly, thrilling, heartwarming, or educational.  

Enhances Visual Storytelling

Your book cover illustration is part of the story. A well-designed cover helps readers visualize the characters or setting for a more immersive experience before the story starts. 

Communicates the Genre & Content

Your book cover gives potential readers important information about the genre of the book and the content inside. This helps kids determine whether or not they’re interested in the story. It also helps families decide if a book is age-appropriate or not. 

Establishes Branding for Series

Books that are part of a series should have complementary covers. Keep the fonts, color palette, and art style consistent for each cover to help readers recognize this. The cover should also indicate which order the books should be read in. 

Helps with Brand Recognition

A standout cover will help readers remember your book and even recommend it to others. The cover is also an opportunity to develop your branding as an author or publisher and build a positive impression for all your books. 

Childrens book cover image in a wooden toy area

8 Children’s Book Cover Design Ideas

Not sure where to start when designing your children’s book cover? Here are some unique book cover art ideas to spark your imagination. 

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1. Whimsical Illustrations

Whimsical art feels warm and playful, making it ideal for children’s books. This art style also evokes a feeling of mystery or curiosity. Use whimsical illustrations to depict your book’s characters, themes, or setting on the cover. If you’re not an artist, work with professional illustrators and graphic design services to bring your vision to life. 

2. Playful Typography

Fonts are a crucial part of any cover design. Each font has its own unique personality, so opt for something fun and energetic that matches your story. Your font should also be clear and easy to read to prevent confusion among readers. 

3. Character-Centric Design

Your characters are at the heart of your story, and your young audience will relate closely to them. Featuring your characters prominently on the cover will help get kids engaged and grab their attention. 

4. Vibrant and Colorful Artwork

Children respond strongly to bright colors, which are an important part of their development. Colorful artwork is an effective way to signify that your book is kid-friendly. Bright colors also help your cover stand out on a crowded shelf. 

5. Magical or Fantasy Themes

Magic plays a key role in many children’s books, so why not showcase them on the cover? Common fantasy themes include mythical creatures and spells, both of which will help your book cover “pop” to readers.  

6. Nature and Adventure Themes

Adventures through nature are another common theme in children’s books, and for good reason. They are thrilling and engage kids; you can even slip in some educational content about things like plants, animals, and weather. Include these themes on your front cover to drum up excitement for readers.  

7. Comic Book Style Artwork

Using comic book-style illustrations on your cover is particularly effective for marketing to older children and teens. Comic books are very distinctive, so they will immediately make your book stand out. They’re also a fun way to bring movement and dialogue to life. 

8. Hand-Drawn Illustrations

Hand-drawn illustrations make your book cover feel personal and intimate. These illustrations are increasingly rare as many publishers turn to digital designs for their covers. Hand-drawn illustrations have a unique look and evoke a sense of nostalgia. 

Childrens book being held

Famous Children’s Book Covers to Inspire You

One way to develop your children’s book art ideas is to look at iconic children’s book covers from the past. While you shouldn’t copy existing designs, they can serve as a source of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Here are five award-winning children’s books with covers that have stood the test of time. 

Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak 

This cover features one of the book’s titular “wild things” resting in a jungle, watching a boat sail through a nearby lake. It features Sendak’s trademark illustration style and a moody color palette that evokes a sense of mystery. The cover shows readers they’ll enter a captivating fantasy world for some pure escapism. 

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – Dr. Seuss 

This book is an excellent example of using cover art as part of your branding. Every Dr. Seuss book features similar typography that makes them instantly recognizable. This cover also features bright primary colors and cute fish illustrations to reflect the book’s content. 

Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Heard 

Goodnight Moon’s cover features a cozy living room with a window looking out on a starry night sky. The moon is the focal point of the cover as it peeks out from behind the curtains. The living room looks warm and welcoming, allowing kids to picture themselves in the story. Although the cover image is relatable, it still uses vibrant colors to convey that it is kid-friendly. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle 

The main character of this book is front and center on the cover, with a bold, colorful illustration of a caterpillar. The author used collage artwork to create this cover, which feels playful and bold. This art style can even inspire kids to make their own collages. 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter 

This cozy childhood favorite was first published in 1901, and there have been many iterations of the cover over the years. However, they all feature a hand-drawn image of a small rabbit wearing a blue jacket. Despite its soft color palette, the illustration pops off the page, resulting in a memorable character that has been beloved for generations.  

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Tips for Designing Children’s Book Covers

Use these tips when developing your book cover art ideas to create something that appeals to your young audience. 

Understand Your Target Age Group

A child’s needs and interests change quickly as they pass through different developmental stages. Books that resonate with a toddler won’t work for a 10-year-old, and vice versa. Spend time researching your target age group to determine what type of text and imagery will resonate with them. For example, young children benefit most from simple, clear imagery, as they can’t read text yet.  

Embrace Vibrant Colors

Vibrant colors are stimulating and attention-grabbing, making them an ideal choice for children’s books. Experiment with your color palette, and don’t shy away from the brighter hues in the rainbow. You’ll also want to use plenty of contrast and dimension in your design. This will help your cover pop on a crowded shelf. Bright colors can also signify to families that your book is kid-friendly. 

Prioritize Clarity and Simplicity

Young children are still learning about the world, so you’ll need to keep your cover design simple. Use clear imagery and avoid clutter, which can overwhelm the page. Being literal with your designs is also okay, as most children won’t understand metaphors yet. Avoid imagery perceived as frightening or confusing for kids in your target age group.  

Choose Age-Appropriate Typography

The typography on your cover should reflect your story, but it must also be appropriate for your readers. Look for fonts that are clear and easy to read but still have fun, unique touches. This is particularly important if your book appeals to a preschool or young elementary school audience still learning to read. 

Highlight the Main Character or Theme

Readers will assess your cover to decide if your book is right for them. They often look for characters they can relate to or ideas they want to learn more about. Highlighting the book’s main character or theme lets them know what to expect from the story. Many of the most successful children’s book covers have become iconic because they feature lovable main characters. 

Create a Memorable Cover Illustration

One way to create a standout cover is to use an illustration that matches the art and story inside. If your book is illustrated, have the same artist create a cover illustration for continuity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unique styles. The more distinctive your illustration is, the more memorable it will be for your audience. 

Reflect Your Book’s Genre and Content

If your book doesn’t have a distinctive main character, you’ll need to think outside the box to design the cover. In this case, think about how to best convey your book’s genre or storyline. Look at other books in the same genre to determine what types of covers are most effective. For example, if your book is a comedy, use lighthearted fonts, bright colors, and silly imagery to match the genre. 

Pay Attention to Spine and Back Cover Design

When designing your cover, don’t forget about the spine and the back! While the front of your book is essential, the entire design must be cohesive. Readers might see the book’s back or spine first, so they need to be just as engaging as the front. Use complementary fonts and colors, and include compelling copy on the back. This is particularly important when designing a hardcover book, which will have a thicker spine than a paperback. 

Print Your Children’s Book with Printivity

Use these children’s book cover ideas as inspiration for your next design. A creative, vibrant design is key to attracting curious young readers and adults alike. When your book is ready to hit the shelves, use Printivity’s book printing services to get the job done. Reach out to our team to learn more about our custom printing options. 


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