Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Art and Imagery of The Great Gatsby

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Judging a Book by its Cover: The Art and Imagery of The Great Gatsby

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions, plus reading and discussion time
Lesson Author

Carol Hurt

Charleston, South Carolina


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Francis Cugat's 1925 cover art for The Great Gatsby and The View of Toledo by El Greco, mentioned in the final pages of the novel, are the focus of prereading and postreading activities in this lesson plan. Before reading the novel, students tap visual literacy skills as they analyze the artwork commissioned for the novel's cover. Based on their analysis, students make predictions about the plot and imagery of the novel. After completing their reading, students revisit the visual imagery and artwork and discuss how their interpretations have changed. Next, students explore allusion by analyzing an El Greco painting alluded to in the novel and discussing what the allusion means. Finally, students conclude their study by selecting images and designing their own cover for the novel.

back to top



  • Book Cover Creator: This online tool allows students to type and illustrate front book covers, front and back covers, and full dust jackets.
  • Prereading Analysis Sheet: Use this handout to help student analyze the cover art for The Great Gatsby prior to reading the novel.
  • Postreading Analysis Sheet: This handout guides students through reinterpreting the cover art for The Great Gatsby after reading the novel.

back to top



This lesson focuses on visual connections-both visual images related to the novel and the visual imagery included in the novel. This visual link invites students to connect with the text in ways that go beyond the typical literary analysis. In "You Gotta BE the Book": Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents, Jeffrey Wilhelm explains that "visual imaging encourages students of all backgrounds to access and apply their prior knowledge as they read, increases comprehension, and improves the ability to predict, infer, and remember what has been read. [Researchers] have also shown that the use of visual imagery while reading helps students to monitor their comprehension" (117-18). As they move from cover art to images described in the novel to their own visual representations of the novel, students tap prior knowledge, explore predictions, and increase their comprehension of the novel as a whole.

Further Reading

Wilhelm, Jeffrey. 1997. "You Gotta BE the Book": Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading With Adolescents. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Read more about this resource

back to top