A key strategy in developing a culture of readers is to ensure students have ample access to high quality books with no strings attached. What you value as an administrator, educator, and school should be reflected in the physical learning environment and that includes shared and common spaces and NOT just the individual classrooms. There are many ways and opportunities to display books to promote reading and literacy on your campus. Consider the following inexpensive and completely feasible ideas:
When we painted the school office, the document holder was no longer needed. In lieu of getting rid of it, it turned into a book display that we hung at a Kindergartener’s height in between the bathrooms. The teachers now can access these books and use restroom break time as an opportunity to do a read aloud. We ensure that quick and easy books are accessible and refresh them with seasonal or high interest books. You can purchase similar holders for about $20.00.
You can get a 10 foot section of gutter for about $4.00. That makes the display below economical and fun! The best part of this display as that you can put books forward facing for students to see the covers. We put these in between the two doorways that lead to our gymnasium. Students use them during the day, but we also love when students and siblings access them in the evenings during basketball or other sporting events.
It may seem like common sense, but it’s not always how you display your books, but WHERE you display them that can make an impact. We placed two bookshelves in our foyer where students enter in the morning and wait for rides at dismissal time. It is also the area where students that are leaving early may wait for their parents. This provides access to them to seize those important minutes during the day.
Unique and Different Vessels for Holding Books
A staff member approached me one day and shared she had a bathtub in her garage that she was eager to get rid of and she knew our school would find something to do with it. We placed it in our foyer and it wasn’t long before we started filling it with books. Students rifle through it searching for their favorite stories and it is one of my favorite areas for books in our whole building. Consider what other vessels can hold books and create excitement for books. An old boat? A telephone booth? A swimming pool? An old interesting cabinet? A lemonade stand?
Thrift Store Finds
I was walking through a local thrift store when a white wicker shelf caught my eye. It was $2.50 and it screamed BOOK display to me. We spray painted it blue and hung it above a water fountain. There are lots of different and CHEAP opportunities to place books in non-traditional areas.
The Principal’s Office
Promoting a culture of readers means remembering the professionals too! Adults are readers and the principal’s office can serve as a strong model for that. Building a strong professional library that is accessible to staff is necessary.
Outdoor spaces are a prime location to promote a culture of readers during and after school hours. Maintaining a quality supply of books that students and the community can access at all times promotes a love of literacy. We display one in the front of our building and also on our playground.
Books in the Bathroom?
Let’s be real. When we are in the restroom, a little reading material never hurts. We maintain some magazines and books in our staff restroom. We are using magnetic document frames to display poetry, short stories and math word problems in the student bathroom stalls!
Look at your space and school. What does it communicate about reading? What can you do to enhance it? Share your ideas and keep building a culture of readers!