Banned book displays kick-off conversations about censorship and inspire readers to explore challenged materials. Here are 13 display ideas from libraries across the U.S. — some which only require construction paper and an imagination.
1. Print out sections of banned books or recycle pages of outdated materials and paint bold phrases on them, such as “Stand for the Banned,” “Read Banned Books Here” and “Words Have Power.”
2. Place banned books in a pet crate or create your own cage out of discarded materials. The Baker Middle School in Tacoma, WA, used large boxes to create a locked cell, and students put the final touches on the display. “I had the students research books that have been banned and the reasons why they were banned. They cross referenced that list with books that we have in our library,” said librarian Kristin Sierra. “Then they had to locate them on the shelves and put them in the box. It started some great dialogue in our class!”
3. Place a “BANNED” sticker on books, store bags or receipts.
4. Shred printed pages of a banned book and stuff the slips in a clear jar. Ask patrons to guess which banned book is in the jar, and award the correct answer with a literary prize.
6. Cover banned books in brown paper and list only the reasons why they were challenged on the jacket. Find frequently cited reasons for challenging books in the Top Ten Challenged Books archive.
7. Construct flames out of orange construction paper or tissue paper, and place them around a display of books. The Grayson County Public Library in Independence, VA, took it one step further by designing a phoenix and scattering feathers in the book display case.
8. Use caution tape to accent book displays and line bookshelves.
9. Promote a “mug shot” station where readers are “caught reading” their favorite banned book. Readers can post their pictures to social media and tag the library.
10. Invite patrons to answers intellectual freedom prompts on large paper sheets. The James Branch Cabell Library in Richmond, VA, used a whiteboard to pose questions to its student body throughout Banned Books Week and received dozens of responses.
11. Set up a mannequin to entice readers to check out books. During the first Banned Books Week in 1982, Hunter’s Books in Phoenix dressed a mannequin in an oversized trench coat and hid banned books within the pockets. A balloon above the model’s head read, “Psst...want to buy a banned book?”
12. Create an interactive banned/challenged book exhibit, that includes "props" from banned books, a listening station, and character art. Find step-by-step directions from the Library Jam blog.
13. Utilize cardboard notecards to display the reasons why certain books are banned and challenged. Readers can flip the cards open to discover which book was challenged for those reasons. See the John Gould Fletcher Library's (Little Rock, AR) display to the right for inspiration!