A Red Box “Read Box” in the library!

Posted by in Education, Library Brand, Literacy, Reading Advocacy, SCASL13

Sometimes great ideas are of the simplest concepts.  This was shared with me recently, and so I asked permission to share it here on my blog.  I am so hoping to do this in my own high school library.  It was created by Jenny Cox, school librarian in the coastal area of our state,  Kensington Elementary School in Georgetown School District.


After bombarding her with questions about it, I decided to with permission use her response directly in my post. Here is the inspiration and “how to” straight from the source:


It is not my idea originally. I saw something similar on Pinterest and tweaked it to look more like a Red Box. The Pinterest post used a rolling cart.  I wasn’t crazy about how it looked so I used a bookshelf.   I had a small shelf in the media center set up with paperback chapter books that 3rd – 5th graders use to swap paperbacks that they personally own, one for one.  I keep what they bring, they keep what they take until they are ready to swap it again.  The old “swap shelf” didn’t really stand out and was used by a handful of students. So when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I thought I would try it. More students are swapping books now because the Read Box is more eye catching and placed right near the circulation desk.  I do require students to show me the paperback they bring in before switching so that I can make sure it is appropriate and not damaged, slightly worn is okay.  Sometimes, I let kids just take a book from the shelf if they don’t have any at home–that gets them started. Then they have one they can bring back for a swap. Once I had a student bring me his Bible and asked to swap it for a book because he didn’t have any paperback at home.  Of course, I gave him a book and gave him his Bible back too!

I used Scholastic dollars to purchase the initial set up “swap books.” I only use paperback chapter books for this.   I even have a few parents who come and swap for their children.  Teachers love it too!  My principal was super excited about it.

I just decorated a three shelf standard book shelf to look like a Red Box with red butcher paper.  I printed some book covers from Google Images, cut them out and taped them to the bottom to resemble Red Box movies.  Then added the caption “Save a dollar, read a book.”

I have had a ton of comments on my Read Box from anyone who comes through the media center! I also post on FB to request paperback books that any of my FB friend’s children might have outgrown or no longer want.

Hope this helps!


P.S.  I also have a swap shelf for teachers.  They bring novels and other reading materials that they are finished with and swap them out too.  This is in one of my smaller library rooms where I keep teacher materials.


Yes, Jenny, this helps a lot!  You have really set my mind in motion! I too have a free swap area ( a carousel with a sign) in my library. I keep it up for those students who for whatever reason need a book but have “library issues” (like fines, overdues, etc.)  The free swap is a “borrow on the honor system” set of paperbacks, and students can make a donation or borrow (and hopefully return) a title from the rack, no questions asked. We like it, and it helps those who really need a book be able to choose one. We also get donations from one of our high school clubs that do a book drive each year.  Maybe you can contact the local high school and see if they do a book drive or similar project with a club. It could be a source for some free books to add to your collection for this project.  Your answers were very helpful.  I may re-invent our carousel into a “ReadBox.”  

Not only that, I’m thinking THIS is a perfect mini-grant waiting to happen.  I’m on it! Thanks for sharing and graciously responding to my gazillion questions. I am so inspired!


Cross posted over at the SCASL Blog

Picture Attribution:

“ReadBox” by Jenny Cox. LMS, Kennsington Elementary, Georgetown School District.