On Display: 25 Themes to Promote Reading

Bob Duckett (Reference Librarian, Bradford Libraries)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Duckett, B. (2000), "On Display: 25 Themes to Promote Reading", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 139-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/lr.2000.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

“… it is no surprise that one of the favorite student hangouts is the library. For here students are often greeted by a smiling life‐size ‘Garfield’ or beckoned by ‘Snoopy’ to enter into a magical world of an enchanted castle with its very own life‐like dragon or a wondrous underwater adventure full of colorful fish and strange creatures reading some very interesting books. These are just a few of the numerous themes Mrs Skaggs has developed to help create an inviting and exciting environment for our library.”

So reads the testimony of the author’s employer at a Missouri elementary school. The author’s thesis is that learning to read is one of the most exciting events in a person’s life and that teachers and librarians must encourage and maintain that excitement. This book offers ideas for displays designed to promote reading.

The first theme in the book is “Read & Rock & Roll”. We start with some background about colours and objects – 45s, hula hoops, jukeboxes and suchlike – and then we are given a couple of designs for jukeboxes which can be made from cardboard, silver trim and imitation records made from laminated black poster board. Music notes can be made from paper towel tubes, and playing 50s music at designated times each day will “really pep up your day”. Related activities for the theme might be an all‐school dress‐up day focusing on the 1950s, a display of photographs of people from the 1950s – which “could be worked into a trivia contest or reference project” (!), or feature Caldecott or Newbery books from the 1950s.

The twenty‐fifth theme is “Hats Off To Reading”. Collect your hats, helmets and bonnets, and pin them onto a bulletin board among paper books – “This will give a 3‐D look to the display”. A number of other suggestions are made as to what to do with hats and books.

The majority of these themes can be used at any time, though some are more seasonal. An elementary age of “student” is envisaged but we are encouraged to develop the themes into older age groups. “The possibilities are endless and exciting.” There is a brief introduction on “Getting Started” where librarians are exhorted to think imaginatively about using space, developing backgrounds and bulletin boards, visuals – fishing line is best for hanging items – and lettering. Do not clutter displays and check your spelling!

The book is full of ideas for designs and slogans and I am sure children’s librarians will find it a useful source of ideas and practical help. It was nice to see frequent reference to favourite Web sites – the “Keep on Track” theme has engines and search engines, even a Web crawler!My reservation about the book, as with much of the wizzy, wacky world of display entertainment, is about how it really relates to reading. This book is, I suggest, less about the promoting of reading of the subtitle, and more about the excitement of ideas and of finding out – of 45s, funny hats, and Web sites. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but not quite reading. I am sure the book will be a well‐thumbed addition to the desks of children’s and display‐minded librarians.

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