A Print Oasis

Outside of your classroom, many children do not have a safe, clean environment where books are displayed proudly.  Jim Trelease warns that a “print desert” deprives children of access to books, reading role models, and a place to get excited about reading (108).  Send the message that books enrich our lives by decorating your classroom with books: on shelves, walls, and desks, under and on the whiteboard, and every available surface.

When Displaying Books:

  • Books should look intentionally placed, not cluttered.  Displays should be colorful and feature only books with attractive covers.
  •  Whenever space allows, books should face out (Trelease, 89).


  • Donalyn Miller cautions against labeling an “easy” section.  Instead consider placing easier books (ex. comic books) on the same shelf, but in bins facing out to lure new readers.


  • Don’t be afraid to display books by interest, or even target groups (ex. boys or girls). Switch out the books on display frequently.

Involving students in book displays:

  •  Students should have a routine for sharing what they are reading in a way that builds community.  Frank Serafini recommends ”providing space for personal collections, or book baskets, for students to organize future reading materials” (35).  Another approach is an individually-designated spot (ex. round table or edge of a white board) where books can be left at the end of the day for the group to see and share on a daily basis.


  • During daily lessons, display books in an inviting way.  Use this time to model selecting and talking about books with friends.  Encourage spontaneous response-to-text: if students have an interesting comment, let them dictate it to you.


  •  Instead of book reports, consider asking students to create book displays to show off what books they read and what they loved about them.


Miller, D., & Anderson, J. (2011). The book whisperer: awakening the inner reader in every child. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.

Serafini, F.  (2015).  Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook. New York: Penguin Books.


Published by

Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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