As we head into the winter holidays, allow me to share some programming that I have found really successful in reaching out to staff and students to encourage library traffic and get those books off the shelves!
Lean Into the Season
- Try wrapping books up like presents and offer a candy cane to anyone who will check out a book. Small things go a long way to creating a festive atmosphere, trust me!
- Start a Winter poetry contest and have students vote for their favorites. Give small awards (think Dollar Tree prizes or ask a coffee shop to donate gift cards) to winners.
- Have a Winter Break countdown going in the library. Students and staff alike will enjoy watching as the days tick down. Or you could include the countdown in your New Year’s display, and poll teachers and students on their favorite books of the year.
- At one school, I had a display case in the hallway, and each month I treated it like a window display for a small business. Think about the displays at your favorite shops and how they use all sorts of materials to make something eye-catching. For this winter display, I used an old library chair, a cozy blanket, birch branches, a coffee cup and some books, and fake glittery snow (because I am a lover of all things that sparkle)!
Create Spaces for Expression
- Chalkboard paint worked wonders in my library, not only to advertise library announcements, but to give students a way to express themselves. The amount of skill that some students have at drawing is absolutely astounding; teachers would walk by and ask about an art piece and be genuinely surprised when I shared who drew it. I encouraged students to draw on the windows too. I loved how this pulled young people away from their devices and into a creative zone instead.
- Set up a gratitude board somewhere near your heaviest foot traffic. Encourage students to write who or what they are thankful for this year. A lot of my students wrote which teacher they were thankful for, which warmed the hearts of many staff. It’s also a good photo opportunity for the school’s socials!
Think Outside the Book
- Weekly Trivia was a huge hit with my students. With the permission of the admin, I would email a weekly trivia question (you could also write the question on your display board or include it in the school newspaper). If a student emailed back the correct answer or came in person, I gave them a sticker or something small. I wasn’t even upset if they googled the answer, because they were working on their research skills. Some students only came into the library to get the sticker, but that provided an opportunity to build connections with them.
- Put a few chess sets around and watch as students from all walks of life interact with each other in a new way via the game of chess. Many of my students learned in elementary school or were part of a chess club at some point; they loved the brain break that chess gave them. A principal at one of my schools would often come into the library to play the students, much to their delight!
- Consider starting a drop-in Library Club after school. Tenacious readers will appreciate having one on one time with their school librarian, and their friends might join too – especially if you entice them with snacks! I invited the public library’s teen librarian to attend our weekly meetings. She shared insights and new books that students would be interested in, and students knew where to go for library fun during winter break.
Here’s a link to my Pinterest boards for further library inspiration! Keep doing the wonderful and delightful things that you do each and every day for your students. It means so much to them, even if they don’t quite know how to say it.