In November 2015, Jennifer LaGarde wrote a blog post called “Six Tips for Building Book Displays That Matter.” In the post, she shared how her philosophy around displays had changed since starting as a librarian. She questioned, “Why would we waste that valuable real estate on displays that don’t tell the real story of how librarians make a difference for kids?” It got me thinking about my displays. They should not be something I just fill up or make look pretty. Instead, I have worked to make them purposeful. They are truly an extension of the school library.
Fast forward to today, here are four examples of meaningful displays being used in the library:
Books Are a Window to the World
This year, I started in a temporary library space with 3rd– and 4th-grade students. This space has two large garage doors with windows. There was absolutely no space designated for displays. The windows on the garage were the only option. I had to make them matter!
Each week when students come to check out books, they have the opportunity to use the Selfie Station. This is an iPad that has been set up for the purpose of taking book selfies. They can take a picture with a book they would recommend or a book they are excited to read. Then at the end of each week, the pictures on the iPad are printed and placed on the garage door windows.
This has been amazing for recognizing student voice and choice in what they read. The interactive element has been great too! Kids come in each week and point to a picture on the window and say they want to check out that book. I know there are students who have been reluctant to check out but have found a book to try based on a window recommendation.
This has been great for data collection. It is fun too! Each week I post a new question on a whiteboard. Some of the questions are just silly like, “What book character would you want to have breakfast with?” Yet others, like “What books are we missing from our library?” are helpful when developing the collection and curriculum. Sometimes the question includes options and other times they are more open-ended. I keep a bunch of dry erase markers nearby, and students just write their answer on the board.
It has been interesting to see the trends that have come out of the students’ answers. Students like to see when their suggestion has made an impact. For example, I have added books to the collection based on their suggestions. Focusing on students’ reading interests has allowed me to build relationships, and it gives them a time and place to share.
This is a bit like Survey Says, but for a younger audience. I place a question on the bulletin board with options for students to choose from. Students then place their names under the option that fits them best. Teachers are encouraged to participate too. The questions change every few weeks. The question in the example at the right is “Where do you like to read?” The options included are on my bed, in a fort, on my couch, at my kitchen table, outside, and in the bathroom. I have pencils attached to the board with string so that people can just add their names quickly.
The interactive part of this display gets kids excited about independent reading. They are having conversations with their friends about their answers. It focuses on the reader and honors their voice.
For this display, I choose a different author to focus on each month. I post the author’s picture and examples of their books or illustrations, as well as quotes they have shared. The books the author has written or illustrated are on display in the library during the month.
I know this one seems simple, and it is! However, it has allowed me to highlight a variety of authors, including those from underrepresented backgrounds. It also allows students to expand their understanding of who an author is and the types of books that are available to them. I love Dav Pilkey as much as the next librarian, but there is more than Dog Man in the collection. This allows students to see that!
What Are You Reading?
This is one display I need to include! I am fortunate that I work in a school where a student’s love of reading is valued. We have a lot of book love, but I feel like you can always add more! One thing that I would like to try would be to display faculty pictures and post the books they are currently reading with each one. Here is an example of how Shannon McClintock Miller is using Bitmojis to support an effort like this at her school. We ask kids to be readers, so I would like to highlight that we are readers ourselves.
Do you have any meaningful displays that you would like to share? I would love to hear about them!
LaGarde, J. 2015. “Six Tips for Building Book Displays That Matter.” The Adventures of Library Girl (Nov. 1). https://www.librarygirl.net/post/six-tips-for-building-book-displays-that-matter.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).