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Don’t judge a book by its cover! This is not only the source of the song, but also one of the most precious lessons for our children and young people as they discover that, while people look at outward appearances, God looks at our heart.

Begin the session with a ‘noticing’ game, such as getting a few leaders to change something obvious about their appearance and waiting to see whether anyone comments. Alternatively, try a memory game, asking questions of a blindfolded member of the group about what other members are wearing. You could play ‘Kim’s game’ with a selection of objects laid out on a tray. When one item is removed the children or young people have to correctly identify it.

Explain that you are going to be thinking about how as human beings we make assumptions about and judge one another, compared with how God looks at people. As a group, discuss:

  • What cues do we use to help us decide what a person is like?
  • Have you ever made a wrong judgement of someone, based on your first impressions?
  • How does it feel when people are quick to judge what you are like and don’t get to know you?


Play ‘A cover is not the book’ and, as a group, discuss:

  • What does the singer mean by the line ‘a cover is not the book’?
  • Is it ever OK to make a quick judgement of what a person is like?
  • What does it mean for us to read a person rather than their ‘cover’?

Allow the children to share their own experiences and describe how this has made them feel before drawing the discussion together. Explain that while ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a well-known saying nowadays, God said something very similar thousands of years ago.

Look together at 1 Samuel 16, either reading the whole chapter or summarising the meeting between Samuel and David, depending upon your group, before turning back to verse seven together. Ask the group:

  • What does it mean for God to look at the heart?
  • How can we do the same?

Challenge the children to think about what it means to make careful, considered decisions about what a person is really like based on their heart, rather than on the image they put across. Explain that God alone can see into our hearts and make judgements about what we are really like, but we should not be too swift in judging others based on our ‘cover appearance’, but rather to try to get to know a person well and discover what they are really like. Close the session by praying that your group would be slow to judge others and willing to dig a little deeper.

Supporting documents

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