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July 30

Paperback books were first introduced in 1935.

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Paperback books were first introduced in 1935.

Grades 3 – 8
Calendar Activity Type Literacy-Related Event





The publication of the modern paperback began in 1935, with the publication of the first ten "Penguin" books. Paperback books provided a source of good-quality writing and literature, but at a lesser cost than traditional hard-bound books. In 2003, U.S. sales of trade and mass-market paperbacks exceeded $3 billion. Although in recent years the sale of discounted hard-bound books has had an effect on paperback sales, they continue to provide readers with an inexpensive alternative.




Promote independent reading among your students by organizing a paperback book swap in your classroom. Alternatively, you may want to invite another class or all the classes at your grade level to participate.

  • Send a letter home to families asking for donations of students' favorite paperback books, including novels and nonfiction titles, for students to trade.
  • Explain to students that they will swap their books with one another. (You may want to have a selection of used books available for students who cannot donate a book.)
  • Have students use the interactive Book Cover Creator to create an illustrated book jacket for their book that provides information about the book's author, subject, plot, characters, and other important details. Ask them to include a synopsis or review of the book to add to the jacket. See these tips for more uses of this interactive.
  • After the jackets have been finished, display the books in your classroom and invite students to make their swaps.



  • Educational Paperback Association

    This website offers a variety of resources related to paperback books. Included are links to author information, book publishers, thematic book lists, and Web resources.

  • How the Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature

    This Smithsonian Magazine article explains how the inexpensive availabilty of paperback books changed the reach of classic writers, widening their readership and the public's interest in their work.

  • SSR Extension Activities

    This printable resource features a list of activities students can complete after reading a paperback novel. These are great alternatives to a traditional book report.

  • Penguin Group History

    The Penguin Group publishers offer this often colorful company history in a timeline format.


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