Less is more: Making your book displays more appealing

Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson is Marketing Manager at BookSpace, an independent company whose products and resources are designed to develop a love of reading and writing amongst primary-aged children. Our range of creative writing products, WordSpace, stimulates and inspires children to write creatively and our innovative book display furniture is designed to create reading spaces with instant visual appeal which banish the image of a dull library forever. We also offer a free design service for schools looking to revamp their school library.

Follow @BookSpace

Website: www.bookspaceforschools.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We want our children to read more, and teachers are well-placed to create a buzz of excitement about books. You don’t need a large space or big budgets to do this. In fact, it’s amazing what a well thought-out small reading space can do for children’s confidence in reading and books.

"Sometimes more small displays dotted around the school will work better than one large display area, as it gives you more opportunities to attract children"

First consider where to site your display – avoid areas near entrances, where children will be getting accustomed to the new environment, removing coats etc, as they won’t notice any book displays. Instead, choose areas which enable children to take a book and spend time looking at it. If there is seating nearby even better, but at least provide an area where children won’t feel crowded and will feel comfortable browsing.

Your books don’t all have to be displayed together. In fact, sometimes more small displays dotted around the school will work better than one large display area. It gives you more opportunities to attract children and sends a message that reading is a cross-curricular activity which the whole school is embracing. Try experimenting with spaces next to PCs, on windowsills or on tables in the dining areas. Inexpensive acrylic display units work wonders in these areas. They allow you to display a handful of books at a time in a neat, compact way.

With any small book display, don’t be afraid to experiment. The beauty of these smaller displays is that they can be changed within seconds. The flip side of course is that they also require frequent topping-up. If it’s half empty it looks like the best has already gone, and will tempt no-one. Frequent topping-up will really help keep your displays looking fresh, exciting and tempting.

If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated reading space, consider how much stock you really need to display at any one time. There seems to be a commonly held view that the more books the better the library, but this isn’t always the case. At BookSpace we visit many schools looking to install a new library. On many occasions I’ve seen libraries crammed with books, resulting in shelving units so high that many of the books are out of children’s reach. There can be rows and rows of spines with not a book cover in sight, and a very dense shelving layout limiting space to comfortably browse, sit or read. Many libraries look more like a storage facility rather than an inviting, child-centred and interactive space that the whole school can enjoy.

"Avoid a library with empty shelves by thinking about how many books you actually have, or ultimately want to keep in the library."

The old adage that less is more is acknowledged by children as much as by adults. They can easily be overwhelmed by too much choice and often the result is they don’t select any books at all. Most of us would rather see fewer books displayed face-out so that we can instantly get an idea from the cover whether it is something we want to read rather than a huge variety so tightly crammed onto a shelf that we can’t tell one book from another. Here are my top 3 tips for creating a space where less really is more:

1. Out with the old

Do you want to keep all of your current stock in the new library? Are there any books that are outdated or in poor condition? Having a library with up-to-date and fresh looking books will look so much better than a library crammed with out-dated, dog-eared books. Which one would you choose to take off the shelf? If you think you could be a book hoarder, do some research to see how you can use your old books.

2. Our database says…

Library management software can be a fantastic tool, but often the number of books the system tells you that you have in school is not an accurate reflection of the number that you want to eventually keep in the library. You’ll probably find that some of the books are in classrooms, on loan or have never been returned (and indeed never likely to be returned). Avoid a library with empty shelves by thinking about how many books you actually have, or ultimately want to keep in the library, which is not necessarily the same as thing as the number your computer system tells you.

3. Rotation, rotation

Consider rotating stock from time to time. Experiment and dig out some older titles for face-out display – you’ll be surprised by how quickly they are borrowed. Try moving stock around the reading space – reorganise from Z to A instead of A to Z and see if more books from the M to Z are borrowed! If you have specific classes coming into the space each week, try selecting books on the topics they are studying and displaying them face-out on the shelves. Moving stock around will look like you are continually getting new stock in and will ensure your space always looks inviting.

How do you go about presenting the books in your school? Share your ideas below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"