Matoaka Elementary New Library Displays Put Books Front and Center

Published On: April 19th, 2023

“While we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, we all do it,” said Matoaka Elementary School Media Assistant Kathy Rawson. And she is speaking literally.

For young readers just learning to read, choosing a book aligned with personal interests can be challenging. Young readers have a hard time reading tiny words on the spine of a book when displayed on traditional library shelves.

Choosing is made much easier when enticing book jackets are revealed hinting at what can be found inside.

That’s where new shelving at Matoaka Elementary comes in. Now thanks to the award of a recent Innovation Grant made possible by the WJCC Schools Foundation, emerging readers at Matoaka Elementary can spy books about gorillas or space exploration from across the library.  New shelving with front-facing displays make hundreds of literacy-building books visible to eager eyes.

Rawson knew she needed to try this new display system when working on her master’s degree. Fellow graduate students conducted an experiment at a public library to test the link between displaying covers and increased checkouts for non-fiction books selected by young readers. After learning the impressive results of this small study, Ms. Rawson knew she wanted to try this strategy at Matoaka, especially with books that build the fundamentals of reading.

After only a few days, it seems to be working. Ms. Rawson has already noticed students lingering longer at the new display and books seldom checked out before are flying off the shelves.

“I am grateful for the grant and to help increase independent reading in our school,” said Ms. Rawson.

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