Picture books can be one of the most difficult items in the library to move effectively. There are so many hidden gems by virtue of their being so many picture books in the first place. No library can have unlimited horizontal space to display them, so how then to market the picture book collection in any library effectively?
First, set aside time to plan. Great displays do not just happen, they are planned. Choose to have a display for a month at a time, thereby creating only twelve displays that need to happen. Holidays and special times such as birthdays warrant displays on a regular basis.
In addition to displays, think as a child would or a parent would about the types of books their pre-verbal or child with limited verbal skills can express. Usually these are concept books: colors, shapes, ABCs and 123s. Also, pre-school aged children are generally interested in books about trucks, fireman, monster, policemen, fairies, princesses, sports, animals, etc. These subjects all make for compelling (and fast-moving) displays!
For those parents seeking a bunch of books on a particular topic, how about creating physical book bags that are able to be checked out by subject. One canvas bag that contains four to six picture books on any of the above topics makes a great quick grab for parents on the go with squirmy toddlers in tow.
Other ideas for groupings for both book bags and displays are one based on mood. Funny books for story time in the morning, soothing ones for naptime or bedtime. Read alikes and parodies on favorites such as Good Night Moon are always fun. Small board books with simple sentences or easy readers with the same are a life-saver for busy parents with children in multiple age groups.
For those parents who would like to explain sensitive topics to children and may not know how to present them, a “family issues” section is welcome. Patricia Polacco’s books on diversity are always a fun and informative read. Parents who want a trip down memory lane may enjoy the classic stories of Curious George, Harry the Dirty Dog, Danny and the Dinosaur, Harold and the Purple Crayon and Where the Wild Things Are, to name a few.
The important thing is to listen to the patrons and try to anticipate what they need. Many moms are too busy to root through the picture book collection trying to find anything appropriate. Here is where a savvy librarian can really make an impact.