Tip #7 addressed the importance of providing easy access to books over the summer. This tip adds to the idea of access and deserves separate mention because it can be so powerful. Most homes, classrooms, and libraries store books on shelves with only the spines showing (or in baskets where only the cover of the first book can be seen). However, it is the cover that sells the book — and research shows this (click here for a summary of a few of the studies). When books are displayed within the reach of children and in a face-out manner so that kids can see covers, kids’ reading motivation and reading frequency improves (which ultimately affects reading achievement). Do you have any face-out displays in your home?
If your answer is no, summer is a great time to consider installing some in your child’s bedroom or playroom as part of your effort to facilitate access to books and frequent reading. You can purchase ledges or wall shelves from Land of Nod, collector’s shelves or a bookrack from Pottery Barn Kids, or even spice racks from IKEA (at only $3.50 a spice rack!). Or, for a cost-effective option that can work with any space needs, you can install rain gutter book shelves, which actually look attractive and can be cut to any size (Click here to read about Jim Trelease’s “rain gutter revolution”, and click here or here for step-by-step instructions on how to install rain gutter shelves.)
Open-faced shelving can be installed extensively, such as covering an entire wall , or as simply as a single row of shelving such as along the length of a bed. Also, if gutters are used, they can be installed in the “dead spaces” of a room, such as in a two-foot area between a closet and a dresser. The key is that the books are within children’s reach, and that the covers showing are constantly changing! Some ideas for what to display on your open-faced shelves include:
- Your child’s “next reads” stack (see tip #3)
- New books or library books that were recently brought into the home
- Books that relate to an upcoming vacation
- Books that target a specific topic of interest, such books about baseball if it’s baseball season or books that relate to summer themes
- Specific topics or genres that your child doesn’t tend to choose, to encourage a more diverse reading diet
Open-faced shelving is effective for picture books and chapter books, as well as for kids of all ages — so don’t think of this as just an early childhood thing. As Jim Trelease has written, it’s so powerful that publishers pay a book chain as much as $750 a month per book to have the cover showing. For parents, open-faced shelving is a relatively cheap way to “sell” books, and improve reading, in your home.