I used this activity as the opening lesson for my 11th grade unit on The Great Gatsby, and it was very successful. I began by introducing the idea that we can glean information about a novel from the front cover, back cover, and epigraph (I explained what an epigraph is). I asked students to tell me what kinds of information could be gathered from the (a.) front cover, (b.) back cover, and (c.) epigraph. I wrote their responses on the board.
Then, I had students work in pairs and assigned each pair one of these three aspects of The Great Gatsby. I attempted to differentiate the assignments as much as possible: for the most part, (a.) students who struggled with English or who were particularly gifted with visual art were assigned the front cover; (b.) middle-level readers were assigned the back cover; and (c.) advanced readers were assigned the epigraph on the title page of the novel. Each pair got a handout with guiding questions about the part of the novel that they were investigating (handouts attached).
After students had time to answer the questions on the handouts, we reconvened as a class and I asked each pair to tell me their predictions about the novel based on the aspect that they had investigated. We began with the front cover people and created a list (which students copied into their notes) of predictions that were made based on the front cover. Then, we moved on to do the same with the back cover and epigraph. We compared the lists to identify commonalities.
Finally, as a fun closer to this lesson, students worked individually to write synopses of The Great Gatsby based on their predictions. After we finished reading the novel, I returned these synopses to the students and they got a good laugh when they read them!