The Importance of Front-Facing Books– and How to Display Them

If you’ve followed me for any period of time at all, then you know by now that I LOVE our front-facing bookshelf. It was an investment we chose to make almost 4 years ago (see photo below), and it has been worth every single penny. Being able to see the cover of a book is so beneficial in so many ways to children!

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Our then 2-year-old settling in with excitement minutes after I finished assembling the display case!

Benefits of Front-Facing Books

Have you ever wondered why the first thing you see when you walk into the children’s section of a library or a bookstore is a beautiful display of books with the cover facing out? It’s because seeing those colorful, engaging illustrations on the covers of board books, picture books, chapter books, and even nonfiction books draws children in much more strongly than the spine of a book (with a title that many children can’t yet read…)!

Displaying books with the cover out:

  • Provides children who can’t yet read an insight into the content of a book, especially helpful when you’re trying to entice kids to read new, unfamiliar books
  • Makes it much easier for reluctant readers to choose books (wouldn’t you rather read a book when you see a hilarious picture of a cartoon chicken on the front, instead of simply the words “Interrupting Chicken” on a spine?)
  • Entices parents to switch up their book displays more frequently. As I wrote last week in a post about book rotation, changing up the books on shelves and the books children see makes them “new again,” increasing children’s excitement over books. Though the covers of most children’s book make for a very positive addition to the “art” displayed in a room, adults may get tired of seeing said chicken every day and rotate books more frequently than they would if the chicken were hidden between other books.
Our current 3-year-old’s favorite place to read

Various Ways to Store Front-Facing Books

So, now that I’ve convinced you to try to display some of your books with the cover accessible to your children, you’re probably wondering how on earth to do this. While I love our ECR4Kids Book Display, I also wanted to share other ways and ideas. I reached out to some dear friends of mine, friends who are also passionate about helping their children get and stay excited about books. They came through, sending me photos of a wide variety of ways to display cover-out books. Hopefully something below will suite your space and budget!

**Beneath each photo, I have included a small caption with various links (some are Amazon Affiliate links) to exact or similar display products.

Book Display Bookshelves

The shelf pictured is our primary book display in our house. Our book display shelf also has 3 storage compartments on top (where we put writing and crafting tools for the girls), as well as 5 shelves on the back (which we have used for puzzle, game, and block storage). See this post about book rotation for more information about which books we display here!


Exact item: ECR4Kids Birch Book Display Stand with Storage. If you’ve got the space, this is worth every single penny. ECR4Kids produces classroom-grade products, so you know this will stand any beatings it gets from kids. My girls even climb the shelves on the front to better see the content in the compartments on top, and the shelf dividers are still sturdy and strong! This comes with wheels, but we removed them for greater stability.

Other similar displays: 

ECR4Kids Streamline Book Display Stand

AmazonBasics Double-Sided Wooden Book Display

Pottery Barn Kids Madison 3-Shelf Bookrack

Kidkraft Sling Bookshelf

Wall-Mount Shelves

As you can see from the number of photos I got from friends, or from simple internet searches, this is an EXTREMELY popular way to display books wtih the covers out. These displays are also ideal because they come at a variety of price points, which you’ll see in the links below.

A word of advice here– please make sure that your display is at an appropriate height for your children to access the books. That is, after all, the point. You want the books to be so appealing that children can’t wait to get their hands on them! Of course, if what you’re going for is simply adding to the decor and look of a room and you have beautiful covers you want permanently displayed, feel free to hang your shelf as high as you want. But I’d encourage you to consider which is more important, the decor or the accessibility.


Exact items: Clockwise from top left

Top left: Ikea Mosslanda Picture Ledge: Available here and here

Top right: CB2 Acrylic Wall Shelf *

Bottom right: Target Pillowfort White Book Shelf

Bottom center: Ikea Mosslanda Picture Ledge: Available here and here

Bottom left: Ikea Bekvam Spice Rack (painted white). Also available as a set of 6.

Other similar displays:

Ubabub BookSee Clear Acrylic Wall Mount Bookshelves. I love that these have a ledge in the front that keeps books from falling foward when kids are looking at them, but that the clear acrylic allows children to see the whole cover!

* Let’s pause for a moment to talk about that beautiful light table underneath the acrylic wall shelf in the photo above. If only we had room in our house for it… But, if you’re interested, it’s the Whitney Brothers Light Table available from Amazon! (Given our lack of space, I keep hoping someone will want to buy this tabletop light panel for our kiddos…).

Book Display Boxes

This can be one of the easiest way to use what you already have around your house to display books so children can easily see the cover. Simply placing books (oriented the same way) in a basket that children can easily flip through does the trick! These baskets can then be placed on the floor, on a table, on a bookshelf… Wherever you want them! We even have a book bin on the back of the girls’ toilet! You can also buy neat display cases that serve the same purpose, but act more as a central piece of furniture (the Book Browser by Jonti-Craft is a neat example of this).

A lesson learned the hard way, though… Make sure the edges and weave of whatever basket/bin you put your books in aren’t too rough or sharp, or they’ll tear up the edges, corners, and pages of your book! When I was in the classroom, I simply used shoe storage bins for all of the books in my classroom library. They’re the perfect length for picture books and width for most chapter books!


Exact Item: Pillowfort Decorative Wall Hanging Basket. These work on the ground, but are even better on the wall as a neat bedside or reading nook display!

Other similar displays:

Jonti-Craft Toddler See-Through Book Browser

Sterilite 6-Quart Storage Box, Set of 6

Bamboo Storage Boxes, Set of 3

Target Pillowfort Coil Rope Basket (we have this on our 5.5-year-old’s shelf for front-facing early chapter books). Also available in “natural.”

Ikea Flisat Book Display: Available here and here

An example of a classroom library, using clear bins to face books cover out

Use Existing Surfaces

This one will cost you no money, assuming that you have a bookshelf, dresser, nightstand, cabinet, mantle, etc. where you can stand books with the cover out. Take a look at this beautiful display (and beautiful cabinet, and beautiful artwork…) from my dear friend!

fullsizerender 2

Just last week I put some board books that our three-year-old hasn’t read in ages on her bookshelf this way, and she’s read every single one of them since then!


Phew! Hopefully something in here will work for you! In the comments, please tell everyone what you use to store front-facing books. I can try to add links as more ideas come in.

Thanks for hanging in till the end of this one!

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Front-Facing Books– and How to Display Them

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