Book displays are fun at anytime of the year. But October was always a great month for Teen book displays. I was lucky at Grapevine Public Library to have multiple locations to do teen/YA displays. During October we would do a Teentober display that had teen favorites. I would leave out a box during August and September where teens could write their favorite books and use that to fill the display.
This really gave them a sense of the library being a space for them because they were able to contribute and essentially pick what books were going on this display. I wasn’t the one who came up with Teentober, American Library Association originally created it and there is usually a nice sign that can be used from their website and sometimes cool posters too.
Another display that was always a hit during October, was mystery reads. A good murder mystery book was very popular among the teens. One year I had the teens help me “paint” a large piece of white paper with handprints and blood smears to go on the display. I wish I could find the picture of it. It was similar to the picture below.
Another favorite display that my teens loved at anytime of year was blind date with a book. Where the books were wrapped in paper and a description was written on the front, but they didn’t know what they were getting. They had a lot of fun with that. The teen volunteers always like helping wrap the books and write or color a description on the front. I wouldn’t let them do all of them, so there were ones that they didn’t know what they were and could participate in on the fun.
There are so many great displays for teens out there, I hope you involve your teens in coming up with new ideas.
Are you excited for Halloween? For my October book display, I want to highlight spooky and thrilling reads with LGBTQ+ characters. So without further ado, here are ten of the books I will have on display throughout the month:
Burn Down, Rise Up / Vincent Tirado: When an urban legend rumored to trap people inside subway tunnels seems to be behind mysterious disappearances in the Bronx, sixteen-year-old Raquel and her friends team up to save their city–and confront a dark episode in its history in the process.
Cemetery Boys / Aiden Thomas: Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Dead Flip / Sara Farizan: Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine? These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns-still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen- Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all. . .
Hell Followed With Us / Andrew Joseph White: Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him–the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all. Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms … until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.
Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson: When no one in the small town of Merritt, Florida, believes that he was attacked by a monster, fifteen-year-old Virgil Knox fears the monster will return to finish him off, or worse–that he is becoming a monster himself.
Over My Dead Body / Sweeney Boo: One day, everything was exactly as it was supposed to be. And the next, the closest thing Abby ever had to a sister, Noreen, was just… gone. Distracted by the annual preparations for the Samhain festival, Abby’s classmates are quick to put Noreen’s disappearance aside. The Coven will find her, Abby’s friends say. They have it under control. But Abby can’t let it go. Soon a search for answers leads her down a rabbit hole that uncovers more secrets than Abby can handle. As mounting evidence steers her toward the off-limits woods that surround the academy, she begins to see that Noreen’s disappearance mysteriously has a lot in common with another girl who went missing all those years ago…
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould: The Dark has been waiting–and it won’t stay hidden any longer. Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just come to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s Para Spectors, has never been to Snakebite before. But the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more than ghosts plaguing this small town. Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his ghost following her ever since. Although everyone shuns the Ortiz-Woodleys, the mysterious Logan may be the only person who can help Ashley get some answers. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who–or what–is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.
The Honeys / Ryan La Sala: Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant. Mars’s gender fluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place. What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death. But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.
The Taking of Jake Livingston / Ryan Douglass: Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student–the handsome Allister–and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake. Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game–one Jake is not sure he can win.
These Fleeting Shadows / Kate Alice Marshall: Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything-the house, the grounds, and the money-to her . The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing. There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams-and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night? And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick? With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.
‘Tis the season for horror, thriller, and mystery books. For some of us, it’s always that season, but with Halloween on its way, interest in creepy books is high. One of the displays I’m doing in my high school libraries this month is the one I’m sharing with you today called Creepy Creatures. It features various books and stories, each about a clown, vampire, zombie, etc. This is a quick and easy display, and teens seem to enjoy it. Below are a few book suggestions to get you started and some graphics to use however you wish.
CREEPY CREATURES BOOK IDEAS
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness (monsters)
Pet – Akwaeke Emezi (monsters)
Twilight – Stephenie Meyer (vampires)
Not Even Bones – Rebecca Schaeffer (monsters)
Fake Blood – Whitney Gardner (vampires)
The Enemy – Charles Higson (zombies)
The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey (aliens)
The Undead Truth of Us – Britney S. Lewis (zombies)
What Big Teeth – Rose Szabo (monsters)
Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas (ghosts)
The Taking of Jake Livingston – Ryan Douglass (ghosts)
Clown in a Cornfield – Adam Cesare (clowns)
Will you be doing this display? What books would you showcase?
And here are some books you can include in a display promoting mental wellness resources and stories of characters struggling with their mental wellness that teens can read to feel less alone in their own journeys.
(Don’t) Call Me Crazy edited by Kelly Jensen
101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety by Thomas McDonagh
Superhero Therapy by Janina Scarlet
Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
PTSD and Suicide:
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (PTSD)
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (suicide)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (suicide)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (suicide)
Anxiety and OCD:
The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart (anxiety)
This Story Is a Lie by Tom Pollock (anxiety)
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (OCD)
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (OCD)
Today we have a guest post from Grace McGann is the Teen Librarian at Tipp City Public Library.
Every year, libraries celebrate a holiday that the general public is often unaware of. Banned Books Week is an annual reminder of our professional duty to protect intellectual freedom and resist censorship. This is our charge as stated in ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement:
It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
This year was my first Banned Books Week as a bona fide teen librarian, and we spent hours working, ensuring the library celebrated in a big way. We aimed to raise awareness and grab the community’s attention.
In celebration, this is what we did at Tipp City Public Library:
Banned Books Week displays both upstairs and downstairs.
A weekly rotating display of books banned for specific reasons, such as LGBTQIA+ content or being considered age-inappropriate.
A massive window display, installed at the start of Banned Books week (pictured later in this article), featuring flames and pages torn out of books and giant letters stating “books united us, censorship divides us).
A giant styrofoam padlock, spray painted and hanging off the library’s sign (we are on Main Street so lots of people pass us daily).
A Banned Books Week video series in conjunction with the English department at the local high school.
Though hours of my time went into many of these projects, I am especially proud of the video series I worked on. I was lucky enough to have five teachers from the high school English department volunteer their time to give a short book talk about a commonly banned book that’s considered a “classic” and they still like to teach in their class. The teachers shared The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 1984 by George Orwell, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Highlighting these books added shock value; we wanted people to be surprised at which books have been banned and why. Further, the teachers highlighting why they still taught the books was intended to make our audience think about the value of modern challenged books, to reconsider prejudices against books like The Hate U Give and The Prince and the Dressmaker.
So why do I think Banned Books Week is so important? First, it is central to our profession to provide collections and resources that span the depth and breadth of the human experience, allowing our patrons to see themselves in the collection and create an opportunity for them to learn and form their own opinions. We must provide equal and open access to materials, meaning we can’t buckle under the pressure of public distaste for challenged materials. But that’s not where it stops.
I think that for some of us, this week feels personal. For me, part of why I became a teen librarian and why I am so set on challenging censorship and having a diverse collection is the joy I feel for some of the YA reads coming out. Growing up LGBTQ+ in a world before Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, Juliet Takes a Breath, Darius the Great is Not Okay, Clap When You Land, Mooncakes, Red, White & Royal Blue, and so on left me without books that I could see that part of my identity in. I constantly questioned the validity of my feelings. Now, as a teen librarian, I get to make sure that those books are there for LGBTQIA+ teens, to show them that the library is a place where they belong too. And that goes for all marginalized groups. Everyone should see themselves in the library, and I mean EVERYONE. So when we celebrate Banned Books Week, we can feel angry about censorship, but we can also feel joy in creating a space of belonging.
Grace McGann is the Teen Librarian at Tipp City Public Library. She loves planning craft programs, running their Girls Who Code Club, and working with the library’s Teen Advisory Board. She believes that the library is a space of belonging for everyone. When she is not at the library, she enjoys walks with her husband and her dog, baking anything and everything, and of course reading.
I love slatwall. Did I know what it was ten years ago? No, no I did not. And possibly, depending on your library, you might not either. But I had seen it before in stores:I just hadn’t known what it was. So when I started working at a bookstore, of course there were slatwall endcaps (slatwall at the end of the shelves), displays, and tables ripe with the opportunity to display our books to their best advantage. My inner decorator was in heaven. It’s perfect for being flexible, showcases covers which are literally designed to sell books, and makes it so people can just grab a book and go. They’re incredibly flexible as well, since the shelves you get to go with it can be placed wherever you wish. Honestly, that store had so much slatwall the problem was keeping everything full. There was always an empty spot (or ten) somewhere and oh, isn’t that a wonderful problem to have?
And then I managed to snag a job at a library! Happy day!
There was no slatwall.
Yeah, I have to be upfront here – my campaign to get slatwall into our library is still ongoing. BUT, I still have plenty of tips and tricks from my bookstore days and if you too are at a library that has yet to get slatwall, I highly encourage you to start your own campaign. In the meantime, now that we’ve covered what it is, here are my tips & tricks!
Tip: Slatwall isn’t just for books!
We’re teen librarians here – check in and see if anyone has some art they’d like to display! Or have an event with your TAB group that’s themed to a display you want to do afterwards! Imagine a banned book display with teen art, poems, or whatever else they can come up with to included along with the books! Slatwall shelves move around, so you can easily mix anything in if it isn’t too 3D. Alternatively, contact a local artist or crafts-person to inspire people to try out a new hobby or craft by including small pieces of work or pictures of their work along with the artist’s information.
Trick: Bulletin Board Paper
Yes, you read that right. Hear me out. To make your books really pop, take some of those old rolls sitting around the back room and pick out a color to serve as your background. Cut it a little bigger than your piece of slatwall, and tape it over said slatwall. But how then can you display books, you might ask? A utility knife. Feel for the indents where you want your shelves, and carefully (please) cut slits just a touch bit longer than your slatwall shelf. You can then slip your shelf in, giving yourself a seamless background. Repeat until you have your shelves in. You can also, of course, further decorate your background with cutouts, signs, and whatever else you want. Getting close to the holiday season? You can use wrapping paper to the same effect!
You all know about themed displays, but have you thought about using a display to advertise a club or special event? Halloween’s coming up, so say you’re doing a horror make-up event. Pull make-up, cosplay/costume books, sewing books, etc., and start building a display. Print a flyer or make a sign for the center of the display (double-sided tape will make your life 10 times easier) with the program name, time, and short description, and then put your books around it! If you have extra time, spice it up with pictures, decorations, and more! Just don’t forget to change it out after the program (I say because I’ve been there.)
For display geniuses, this is obvious, but take color into consideration when you’re pulling books for your display. Color can be a really subtle touch to make a display look great, but if you don’t take it into consideration it can look thrown together without much thought. Multiple colors can work, but think about putting similar colors in rows, or balancing by putting in some sort of pattern like dark, light, dark. You don’t have to delve deep into color theory, but people like patterns. It can also make a particular title pop if you pop contrasting colors around it.
Tip: Mini Themes
Think about separating out your display books into sub-themes and labeling them as such. For instance, here are Halloween fiction recs, one row could be labelled LOL, another “Read these with the lights on!”, etc. Along the same line, do a face-off event, say werewolves vs. vampires. Throw in a score paper for which side gets the most checkouts as you fill in the holes, and may the best win! That could also be a great idea to see what your teens are currently interested in.
Trick: Shelf Placement
Don’t just put a bunch of shelves up and hope for the best. Staggering them is reliable, such as a rows being high, low, high, or vice versa. Make shapes. Go at a slant. Put books close together if you’re just displaying books, but not so close patrons will knock books off when grabbing another one.
I don’t know about you, but visually the left one appeals to me more than the right.
Tip: Be Choosy
I’ve been in a rush, and I know sometimes you just need to get a display up fast. But do think about which books you’re putting out to display. You’re recommending books on both your own behalf and the library’s. Make sure they’re ones you feel good about drawing attention to. I’m not saying do a deep dive on every single book you put out, but if you aren’t familiar with the book, give it a second look or do a quick search on it.
I love books, recommending books, and making things look pretty. Slatwall combines all these elements perfectly. The potential is pretty much endless, given time and imagination, but hopefully you’ve found at least a couple of these ideas useful. Good luck and have fun!
I’m always on the hunt for display ideas. That’s one of the reasons I started reading Teen Services Underground long before I ever posted here. Coming up with new ideas or remembering hits from the past can be challenging. Instead of doing a deep-dive into one display idea with this post, I thought I’d share my personal list with you instead. Some of these ideas are basic concepts you’ve probably done, but I hope there are also displays on this list that are new to you. Some displays are my own creations, others have been accumulated from Google and Pinterest searches over the years, and some are popular themes or genres. If I’ve already posted about a display on this site, I’ve linked to it below.
I work in high school libraries, so a few of these ideas will work best for my fellow school library workers, who might have a mixture of tween, teen, and adult titles from which to pull.
No matter where you work, I hope this post is helpful and inspires you to get books into the hands of the kids that come through your doors.
When creating book displays, my number one goal is to get books circulated, of course, but my second goal is to catch a patron’s attention enough that they stop and engage with the display. I had success with both goals when I created a display featuring popular books in which I put a bookmark that shared a funny or polarizing blurb from a one-star Amazon review.
I work in a high school library, so my collection contains various titles: YA, adult, classics, contemporary, and even some middle-grade selections. As I do with any display, I chose a wide range of titles and reading levels to face out for this one. I chose books that are popular at my school and books that are popular with the general public.
For the most part, I enjoyed tracking down blurbs to feature on the bookmarks. Still, I definitely had to search through many cringe-worthy “reviews” to find a sentence or two I thought was funny enough or would provoke the right amount of literary rage in my students.
Here are some of the blurbs and books I chose:
“Who I would recommend this book to is nobody.” (The Hunger Games)
“Charles Dickens is for old people that had nothing else to do.” (A Tale of Two Cities)
“To say that the writing style resembles supermarket romance novels is an insult to supermarket romance novels.” (Divergent)
“One star because it was a page-turner–that’s it. It was like eating a bag of Cheetos that you don’t even like because you want to get rid of them.” (Twilight)
If you’d like to recreate this display, feel free to use the documents I created or get creative and make your own. (I used Canva, my digital BFF.) Happy reading and display-ing!