Taylor Swift, Barbie, & LatinX Back-to-School Displays

Sparks Fly in the Library

Taylor Swift. The name is enough to get the attention of all teenagers (and most adults). When my Teaching Assistant suggested we use the iconic pop star as the focus for a book display, I jumped on the idea. Having a younger librarian around for part of the day has helped me tap into the minds of high school students!

Every year, I revisit the struggle to motivate students to read for fun. I notice a handful of people checking out books from my monthly displays, but not enough. Research has found that book displays work. . .kind of. As one study showed,  “while displays increased circulation for the featured books, the library’s overall circulation rate did not change” (2014). A high school library is a unique space. Its patrons don’t enter the doors with the sole purpose of finding a book, as they often do in a public library or book store. We need to catch students’ eyes immediately upon entering our space and educate them about what we have to offer before they get lost in homework, socializing, or napping.

I’ve always enjoyed Taylor Swift songs, but I started to appreciate her music more while working on this feature display. Listening to songs and finding books that related to them was the most fun I’ve had putting together a book visual. Not only did I learn some new TS songs, I also reacquainted myself with our collection after being away from it all summer. My TA and I printed out small, square album covers that we taped to the related books, and posted a large sign on top reading, “Love this Taylor Swift song?. . .Try this book!” Each day I notice people congregating around the display discussing the books and songs. 

This Barbie Reads Books

Another trend we embraced during our library set-up was the Barbie movie. When I saw a roll of sparkly, pink polka dot wrapping paper on sale, I knew I could use it for something. Brainstorming with my crafty assistant resulted in a display wrapped in pink, showing off books tied to Barbie themes on one side, Ken on the other. The signs on top say, “This Barbie Reads Books” and “This Ken Reads Daily.” Placed at the school library entrance, it’s a bright and happy welcome for students. 

Hispanic/LatinX Heritage Month

No matter how many trends come and go, I’ll always be faithful to my monthly displays celebrating cultural themes. Latin American literature is one of my favorite genres. It’s filled with rich, descriptive landscapes and deeply explored cultural traditions. Though I read LatinX books all year round, I enjoy showcasing them from September 15th-October 15th. The students walk past the books every day, sometimes picking one up to examine. Even if they don’t have time to check any out now, maybe they’ll remember a title when they need an independent reading book in the coming months.

No matter what I use as themes for our school library’s book displays, I’m confident that filling up the room with stands of books helps maintain a positive, bookish vibe all year. Sometimes, exposure is enough to spark the latent reader in a high school student.


Work Cited

“Face Out: The Effect of Book Displays on Collection Usage.” BYU ScholarsArchive, 4 April 2014, https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi

Author: Karin Greenberg

Karin Greenberg is the librarian at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, New York. She is a former English teacher and writes book reviews for School Library Journal. In addition to reading, she enjoys animals, walking, hiking, and spending time with her family. Follow her book account on Instagram @bookswithkg.

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4 replies

  1. Love the Taylor Swift idea! I will definitely be borrowing your idea for my junior high library.

  2. Love this!

  3. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing – definitely using this!

  4. Thanks for the inspiration — I’m going to do a 1989 (Taylor’s Version) display!

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