My mother-in-law, who is a K-5 Literacy Coach, visited last weekend. She perused several review copies of professional books that were stacked on my desk while we talked shop. There were some pages in one of the books, Children’s Literature in the Reading Program: An Invitation to Read, 3rd Ed. that piqued her interest since it talked about instructing children about endpapers in picture books. We got to talking about this and, a day later, I pulled out some of my favorite books that have interesting endpapers that I always pointed out to my students.I started thinking about endpapers in 2006 after taking a class on picture book writing at the TCRWP Summer Writing Institute with Lester Laminack. Laminack helped me realize that endpapers could be something you teach kids to look at, notice, and talk about when reading aloud books together. Hence, for the three years that followed, I always made a point to examine the endpapers, with my students, if they were more than just a solid color. We’d often talk about what the meaning of the endpapers could be, what it had to do with the story, etc.

If your students are writing short fiction, which you turn into a picture book unit of study where they create their own picture books, then noticing endpapers could be important once it comes time for them to publish their own picture books.

The video that’s embedded (below) in this post takes a look at some of the endpapers I found in my personal library, which provide a breadth of examples for the different types of endpapers that exist in picture books. This doesn’t represent ALL of the great endpapers in the picture books I have… just a smattering of what’s out there. As you’ll see, some endpapers include the same artwork at the beginning and the end of the book. However, some end papers differ at the front and the end of the books, giving the reader signals as to the change(s) that take place in the story over the course of time. There are also endpapers that enhance the meaning of the book by including poignant quotations or maps that reflect the overall meaning of the text.

It’s well worth it since children will often begin to notice the significance of the endpapers on their own after it’s pointed out in a full-class setting, with the teacher thinking aloud about why the papers appear in a certain way. Noticing endpapers with your students takes just a couple of minutes during a read aloud. Plus, the conversations about children’s theories about why the endpapers look the way they do always promises to be fascinating and insightful!

Finally, here’s a list of all of the books whose endpapers were mentioned/shown in the video (above):

  • A Walk in New York written and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino
    • Maps of the places the little boy visits with his father are on the endpapers.
    • There’s an index on the back cover of the book.
  • Go to Bed, Monster! written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
    • Adorable little drawings reflect the drawings the main character does in the text.
  • Jake’s 100th Day of School written by Lester L. Laminack and illustrated by Judy Love
    • Collections of 100 pennies, paper clips, books, etc. abound on the front and back endpapers.
  • John’s Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
    • Two different quotes, said by Lennon, are on the front and back endpapers.
  • Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity written and illustrated by Mo Willems
    • Look carefully to notice the difference in the Knuffle Bunnies’ ear color.
  • Math Attack written by Jane Horton and illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker
    • The main character looks a lot more relieved when she’s multiplying on the endpaper in the back of the book (as opposed to the frantic stance in the front of the book).
  • Math Curse written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith
    • Lots of mathematical stuff to get your mind ready to be taken over by the “curse.”
  • Mr. Belinsky’s Bagels written by Ellen Schwartz and illustrated by Stefan Czernecki
    • Simple bagels line the endpapers in the front and the back of the book.
  • Mia’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Foreman
    • The reader can see the transformation of the space where Mia lives when looking at the front and the back endpapers.
  • My Teacher Likes to Say written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan
    • The ants marching across the end papers reflect one of the idioms in the text.
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
    • Notice the bite mark!
  • The Wedding written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Iza Trapani
    • Miss Brindle Cow and her new hubby walk off into the sunset with all of the animals she carried to the wedding ceremony, on her back, waving them good-bye.
  • Tony and the Pizza Champions written by Tony Gemignani and illustrated by Matthew Trueman
    • Delicious ingredients from the award-winning pizza are on the front and back endpapers.