Displays can be so important in encouraging teens to read or to broaden their reading habits. And there is nothing more satisfying for a teen librarian than to have a book display emptied out by teen readers.
So how do you accomplish these wonders? And how do you do it without spending money? It’s called the power of suggestion. You don’t have to have real palm trees or lounge chairs to create an illusion that suggests the feeling of a beach. A little sand, a miniature Barbie lounge chair, and the tiny dessert pails from Logan’s Road House will do the trick. Suggestion and illusion are the keys because what you really want are for teens to initially be attracted to the display (Oh, that’s neat!) but then to be drawn to the books. You are “selling” books. And you know you can do it as well, if not better, than the bookstores.
Use a tabletop, a display stand, a chair stationed by an easel, or a piece of your circulation desk. Try placing some books standing and some books lying flat and consider using bookends only if you absolutely have to. (You want it to be easy for a teen to take a book.) Use pieces of cloth or colored Kraft paper or construction paper to give color and define your space. Tie in the color or type of material to the theme if possible. (I have even used the comics section of the newspaper for a humor display.) Make sure you have a sign (8.5X11 computer generated backed by colored 9X12 construction paper is great) that gives the title/theme/slogan you have chosen. I use some scissors I got at a yard sale that cut scallops to add a little extra to the edges.
Here are a few specific theme ideas for book displays using recycled, free, cheap, or borrowed materials to get your creative juices flowing.
Author themed display: Find a picture of the author you can print out in 8X10 inch size and place it in a borrowed frame. Photoshop yourself or a teen in the picture to create real interest! Place flamboyant bookmarks with notes about the books sticking out, such as “Newest Richard Peck Title!” or “Peck Wins Newbery Honor With This Book!”
Beach theme: “Beachcomber’s Choice” with real shells scattered on a borrowed beach towel and books standing amid them. Forget the sand but use an old piece of driftwood to give some height if you have one. Otherwise a plastic beach bucket turned upside down will also work.
School spirit theme: Use the cheap paper boxes sold at home decorating stores to spell out your school initials. Spray paint them one of your school colors if you have some left over paint or use poster paint or cheap markers to color. Add curling ribbons to make it festive and place books set in schools in your display. “Back to School” or “High School Fiction” might work for a theme.
Sports theme: “Football Fever is Catching” using a goal post made from fat drink straws and a gridiron lined off on big green paper will provide a backdrop for all your football sports books, both fiction and non-fiction. Free pom-poms or shakers from college football games make it fun. Add some purchased bookmarks with football themes if you have funds. The same can work for soccer or basketball but you will need some mesh from an orange bag for the nets. Beware! If you use a purchased miniature toy frame, teens will want to play with them, so decide beforehand if you want that to happen.
Fantasy theme: “Out of this World Reading” can accompany a publisher’s planet poster used as the backdrop for books or use an old pair of sheer curtains to scrunch up on the tabletop and look otherworldly. A few aluminum foil covered stars and glitter on the title poster add to the allure.
I’m sure you guys can think of thousands more of these cheap and easy ideas now that you are revved up. Have fun!