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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Monday February 21 2005 16:27 GMT

Books: Writing a blurb


A boy reading Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass
A survey has found parents stealing top book tips from their children. The Harry Potter series came top of the list with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy also a big hit.

Students write a blurb for different audiences.

Learning aims
  • Learn about the form and function of a blurb
  • Write own blurbs for favourite books
  • Writing for different audiences

Read this story out to the class.

Harry Potter books

Top kids' book tips

Harry Potter 1 - 5 - JK Rowling
Adrian Mole series - Sue Townsend
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon
His Dark Materials trilogy
Holes - Louis Sachar
A Series of Unfortunate Events 1 - 11 - Lemony Snicket
Sophie's World - Jostein Gaarder
How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
The Scarecrow and His Servant - Philip Pullman

Ask students:

  • Do your parents borrow your books?
  • Have you or your parents read any of the books on the 'Top kids' book tips' list?
  • Have your parents encouraged you to read CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Any other classics?
  • How much time do you spend reading a week?
  • How does this compare to your parents?
  • What makes a good book? What do you think are the main ingredients that both children and adults look for in a book?
Main activity

Ask students: How do you chose a book to read?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Friend's recommendation
  • Have read other books by the same author
  • Like the jacket design
  • Like the sound of the book based on the blurb on the back
What is a blurb?

On back covers of books there is usually a summary which attempts to get the reader interested.

Ask the class if they know why blurbs are written for book covers.

What makes a good blurb?

  • They are short in length.
  • They use attention-grabbing words and phrases.
  • They tend to use question and exclamation marks.
  • They often use three full stops at their ends (an ellipsis) to leave the reader asking questions...
Read out this suggestion for a blurb for Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer:

"There's a new master criminal on the scene, 12-year-old Artemis Fowl. Kidnapping a fairy starts out easy for Artemis, but he soon discovers he's taken captive Captain Holly Short. She's part of an armed and extremely dangerous LEPrecon Unit. Artemis should be able to handle things as long as they play by the rules..."

Ask students:

  • Which bits appeal to children?
  • Which bits appeal to adults?
  • Which bits appeal to both?

Find further examples from the class' reading books to act as inspiration.

Students write brief attention-grabbing blurbs for their favourite books. They should be aimed at engaging children their own age. Each should be no more than fifty words in length. More able writers could be given the challenge of completing each in exactly fifty words.

Students then re-write the blurb so that they will appeal more to their parents.

Once drafted, the blurbs could be written on card to stand beside each book and be decorated in the style of each novel.

Extension activity

Students write an acrostic blurb or book review using the title of the book. For example, for Lord of the Rings:

Newsround's review section

L - Long journey to destroy the ring.
O - Overpowering magical forces.
R - Riding over dangerous ground.
D - Dark and emotional tale.
O - Only one hobbit, Frodo, given the ring.
F - Friends help him as 'The Fellowship'.
T - Timeless fantasy world.
H - Help comes from unexpected places.
E - Evil battles good along the way.
R - Risking their lives, the hobbits start their quest.
I - Isengard is the home of Saruman the wizard.
N - Nearly a thousand pages long.
G - Gandalf the Grey helps Frodo decide what to do.
S - Sauron is the evil one who made the ring and wants it back.


The class present their blurbs for constructive feedback. They comment on the changes they made in order to appeal more to adults and the reasons behind the alterations.

For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side.

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