Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 225–241 | Cite as

Judging a Book by Its Cover: An Investigation of Peritextual Features in Caldecott Award Books

  • Miriam MartinezEmail author
  • Catherine Stier
  • Lori Falcon
Original Paper


While scholars have recognized the meaning making potential offered by the peritext of picturebooks, there has previously been only limited research on the nature of peritextual features. This content analysis focused on the ways in which various peritextual features (dust jackets, beginning endpapers, illustrations before title page, title pages, half title pages, dedication/copyright pages, final endpapers, and notes) contribute to the development of narratives in Caldecott award winning books published between 1938 and 2013. We found that in these quality picturebooks, peritextual features (particularly those appearing before the text of the story) contain rich character and setting information, as well as clues that often point to the genre of a story. In more recently published books especially, important plot elements may unfold only in the peritext. This analysis suggests that peritextual features frequently offer critical information that readers can use to build a framework for stepping into story worlds. Educators attuned to the potentially abundant information in the peritext may guide young readers in exploring these features, and thus foster in their students a richer understanding and fuller engagement with the narrative.


Peritexutal features Caldecott books Picturebooks Content analysis 


  1. American Library Association. (2014). Caldecott Medal—Terms and Criteria. Accessed September 23, 2014 from
  2. Bartone, Elisa and Lewin, Ted. (1993). Peppe the Lamplighter New York:Lothrop.Google Scholar
  3. Beach, Richard. (1993). A teacher’s Introduction to Reader-Response Theories Urbana, IL:National Council of Teachers of English.Google Scholar
  4. Bemelmans, Ludwig. (1953). Madeline’s Rescue New York:Viking.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, Marcia. (1947). Stone Soup New York:Scribner.Google Scholar
  6. Burton, Virginia Lee. (1942). The Little House Boston:Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  7. Cronin, Doreen and Lewin, Betsy. (2000). Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type New York:Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  8. Duran, Teresa and Bosch, Emma. (2011). Before and After the Picturebook Frame: A Typology of Endpapers. New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, 17(2), 122–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Galda, Lee and Cullinan, Bernice. (2002). Literature and the Child, 5th ed Belmont, CA:Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
  10. Genette, Gerard. (1987/1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation (Trans. J. E. Lewin). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gerstein, Mordicai. (2003). The Man Who Walked between the Towers New York:Roaring Brook Press.Google Scholar
  12. Golden, Joanne M. and Guthrie, John T. (1986). Convergence and Divergence in Reader Response to Literature. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 408–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Higonnet, Margaret R. (1990). The Playground of the Peritext. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 15, 47–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hill, Laban Carrick and Collier, Bryan. (2010). Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave New York:Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  15. Keats, Ezra Jack. (1962). The Snowy Day New York:Viking.Google Scholar
  16. Krippendorff, Klaus. (2004). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology London:Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Lambert, Megan. (2010). The Whole Book Approach to Evaluating and Using the Picture Book as an Art Form. Accessed April 25, 2015 from
  18. Langer, J.A. (2011). Literature: Literary Understanding and Literature Instruction, 2nd ed (pp. 10–25). New York:Teacher’s College Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lehr, Susan S. (1991). The Child’s Developing Sense of Theme: Responses to Literature New York:Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  20. Maderazo, Catherine, Martens, Prisca, Croce, Keri, Martens, Ray, Doyle, Michelle, Aghalarov, Stacy and Noble, Rob. (2010). Beyond Picture Walks: Revaluing Picturebooks as Written and Pictorial Texts. Language Arts, 87(6), 437–446.Google Scholar
  21. McCloskey, Robert. (1941). Make Way for Ducklings New York:Viking.Google Scholar
  22. McCully, Emily Arnold. (1992). Mirette on the High Wire New York:Putnam.Google Scholar
  23. Neuendorf, Kimberly A. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  24. Nikolajeva, Maria and Scott, Carole. (2006). How Picturebooks Work New York:Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Nodelman, Perry. (1988). Words about Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books Athens, GA:University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  26. Pantaleo, Sylvia. (2003). “Godzilla Lives in New York”: Grade 1 Students and the Peritextual Features of Picture Books. Journal of Children’s Literature, 29(2), 66–77.Google Scholar
  27. Pinkney, Jerry. (2009). The Lion and the Mouse New York:Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  28. Politi, Leo. (1949). Song of the Swallows New York:Scribner.Google Scholar
  29. Rocco, John. (2011). Blackout New York:Hyperion.Google Scholar
  30. Rohmann, Eric. (2002). My Friend Rabbit New York:Roaring Brook.Google Scholar
  31. Roser, Nancy L., Martinez, Miriam, McDonnold, Kathleen and Fuhrken, Charles. (2007). Characters as Guides to Meaning. The Reading Teacher, 60, 545–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sendak, Maurice. (1970). In the Night Kitchen New York:Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  33. Serafini, Frank. (2012). Taking Full Advantage of Children’s Literature. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 457–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sipe, Lawrence R. (2011). The Art of the Picturebook. In Shelby A. Wolf, Karen Coats, Patricia Enciso, & Christine A., Jenkins (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature (pp. 238–252). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Sipe, Lawrence R. (2008). Storytime: Young Children’s Literary Understanding in the Classroom New York:Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  36. Sipe, Lawrence R. (1998a). How Picture Books Work: A Semiotically Framed Theory of Text-Picture Relationships. Children’s Literature in Education, 29, 97–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sipe, Lawrence R. (1998b). Learning the Language of Picture Books. Journal of Children’s Literature, 24(2), 66–75.Google Scholar
  38. Sipe, Lawrence R. and McGuire, Caroline. (2006). Picturebook Endpapers: Resources for Literary and Aesthetic Interpretation. Children’s Literature in Education: An International Quarterly, 37, 291–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Steig, William. (1976). The Amazing Bone New York:Farrar Straus Giroux.Google Scholar
  40. Steig, William. (1969). Sylvester and the Magic Pebble New York:Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  41. Stewart, Sarah. (1997). The Gardener Farrar Straus Giroux:Illus. by David Small. New York.Google Scholar
  42. Van Allsburg, Chris. (1985). The Polar Express Boston, MA:Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  43. Weatherford, Carole Boston and Nelson, Kadir. (2006). Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom New York:Hyperion.Google Scholar
  44. Weber, Robert P. (1990). Basic Content Analysis, 2nd ed Newbury Park, CA:Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Willems, Mo. (2003). Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! New York:Hyperion.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and TeachingUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Dreeben School of EducationUniversity of the Incarnate WordSan AntonioUSA

Personalised recommendations