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Themes for Library Children's Rooms

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, and information for library users and librarians.

Lawrence Public Library Children's Room

Sure to enchant a child. This is in the Lawrence KS Public Library.

Sure to enchant a child. This is in the Lawrence KS Public Library.

Make Your Library Inviting for Children with These Decorating Themes

A library can be a magical place for a child. For many, it's their first introduction to the wonders inside a book. Creating an inviting, colorful and kid-friendly space is crucial to making their experience truly wonderful.

The children's room in a public library can be a place they look forward to visiting again and again. Let's have children begging their parents for a trip to the library!

Creating that colorful and welcoming space in the library for children doesn't have to be expensive. Check out the sample décor that I've found in libraries across the country. Note that some elements are pretty simple. Most libraries have limited funds for decorating, so make the most of a distinct theme in the children's area while keeping it simple.


A Beach Theme: Osceola County Public Library - Poinciana Branch (Florida) - Click on each photo to see it larger (photos by vallain)

Note the varied colors in the carpet to give an ocean wave effect.

Note the varied colors in the carpet to give an ocean wave effect.

Paint creates a water feel as well on the walls. An inexpensive paper fish hanging from the ceiling adds more color and fits the theme.

Paint creates a water feel as well on the walls. An inexpensive paper fish hanging from the ceiling adds more color and fits the theme.

Plastic beach chairs provide seating where a parent can sit to read to a child. The aquarium adds visual interest and serves to divide the children's computer area from the seating area.

Plastic beach chairs provide seating where a parent can sit to read to a child. The aquarium adds visual interest and serves to divide the children's computer area from the seating area.

A pirate's map on the wall... great idea.

A pirate's map on the wall... great idea.

A flat surfboard with legs and a bench provides table space in the picture book area.

A flat surfboard with legs and a bench provides table space in the picture book area.

What's Your Interest in Library Children's Room Ideas?

Entrance to the Children's Area - Weslaco Public Library, TX

Entrance to the Children's Area - Weslaco Public Library, TX. That's me, standing by the castle.

Entrance to the Children's Area - Weslaco Public Library, TX. That's me, standing by the castle.

When There's No Budget for Redecorating the Library Children's Room

Tips for Finding Funds

The dragon and castle theme shown above was done at almost no-cost for the library. We had the idea of creating an entrance to the open-space children's area and using the fairy tale theme. I wrote about it in the library's weekly newspaper column, saying we wanted to improve the shabby children's room. We wanted it to be a place that children looked forward to visiting and for the library setting to spark their imaginations.

Soon after the column appeared, a museum employee contacted me and volunteered to create the castle and dragon entrance. She had experience from creating theater scenery and also from creating museum settings. With the labor and talent being provided for free, I was able to coax the Friends of the Library into providing the funding for the paint and lumber. She went to work turning our dream idea into reality.

The Friends of the Library became so enthused with the project, that they raised money to recover the sofa in the children's area to match the theme and to get a large dragon-themed area rug for the picture book section. We made sure to get a lot of good PR out of the project, by profiling the volunteer, putting a photo of the finished project in the paper, and having a grand unveiling with refreshments provided by the Friends of the Library. Everyone felt good about the cooperation and the children's room was greatly improved.

Include Sculpture Inside or Outside

This frog with a book is in the garden at the Ellicott City Branch of the Howard County Library System.  When I worked at the Towson Branch of BCPL in Maryland, there was a large tortoise statue in the children's area. Children loved to sit on it.

This frog with a book is in the garden at the Ellicott City Branch of the Howard County Library System. When I worked at the Towson Branch of BCPL in Maryland, there was a large tortoise statue in the children's area. Children loved to sit on it.

Theme Suggestions From Librarians And Library Lovers

Greenwickpress - "I love all of these, and I'm always so happy to see people put a lot of effort and care into decorating children's sections of libraries. My library is not so big, but they are really creative with the space they have. Recently they decorated the whole section with things like whale bones and a pirate-themed mural. There were also small coins that children could fill out with their name, which were then hung from the ceiling on long threads.

ChrissLJ - "Our Children's Programming Room (affectionately known as The Egg) is in the shape of a green dinosaur/dragon egg. The inside walls of the room contain panels to help with acoustics, but the designers arranged them so as that they look like the scales on a dragon's throat. Then the children's game computers are on dragon computer desks."

Peggy Hazelwood - "Scottsdale's libraries have some great cubbies and a walkway going to a castle in the main branch children's area. Love the creativity of these libraries you've shown."

Fay Favored - "What creative ways to dress up a reading area in a library, classroom or home. I had a reading tipi in my classroom with overstuffed pillows on the floor. Kids loved it."

Tinman from the Wizard of Oz - In the El Dorado KS Library

theme-children-library

Choose a Book Theme That Relates to Your Area

This is the library I visited as a child. There was no tinman statue there when I was a kid.

What a great idea! A perfect decoration for a Kansas library. I don't know if this was built by someone locally or where they acquired it. I can imagine a talented carpenter or welder could build one like this.

With copyright, you'll need to get permission from publishers or authors to feature their work. I imagine the Wizard of Oz is out of copyright, so that wasn't an issue here.

Dahlov Ipcar Mural in the Bath, Maine Library

This noted artist from Maine decorated the children's room in this memorable way. Take a look on Amazon to see the wonderful books she illustrated.

This noted artist from Maine decorated the children's room in this memorable way. Take a look on Amazon to see the wonderful books she illustrated.

Check out These Children's Room/Libraries for Ideas

theme-children-library

Oversize Books at the Entrance to the Children's Area

Andover Public Library, Kansas

Imagine how this looks to a little kid when they see it for the first time. I loved it as a grown-up. I'm sure it will seem magical to a child.


Cozy Shelving Arrangement for a Picture Book Area

The picture book area in the Longmeadow children's room in Massachussetts

The picture book area in the Longmeadow children's room in Massachussetts

The shelves are arranged to create alcoves and an arch to appeal to children. For a little one, the walls create the feeling of a room just their size and completely surrounds them with books.


Farmington CT Children's Room - Dragon Storytime Area

Photo taken by Nicole C. Engard

Check out this marvelous children's room featuring a dragon storytime area. Kids love fairy stories and dragons. You can see lots of photos of children's rooms on the Flickr web site.

Don't miss the stunning children's room in the Cleveland Heights Public Library.

Fantastic Chair in the Entryway of the Salina Public Library, Kansas

My mother couldn't resist having her photo taken in this enchanting chair. A child will want to return to a place with such fanciful and lovely things to entice and inspire them.

My mother couldn't resist having her photo taken in this enchanting chair. A child will want to return to a place with such fanciful and lovely things to entice and inspire them.

Above All - Be Sure There Are Places for Reading

Tell us about a theme you've seen in a library that you liked or share what your library has. All ideas are welcome. Contact me if you have photos that we can include here.

© 2010 Virginia Allain

Suggest a Theme...

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on April 09, 2015:

Over the years I have donated items to be used for displays at our local elementary school library and am always amazed at how clever the librarian is. You have some wonderful ideas here.

Stacy Birch on September 20, 2012:

Wonderful displays.

anonymous on August 27, 2012:

I understand fully what you are conveying, as a kid; my favourite place was library. I loved reading, if you make the library an inviting place for children, the magic is definitely going to work.

PopcornThomas on February 26, 2012:

I've seen a "camping" theme with cute bumble bee lights.

kellypr83 on February 15, 2012:

My heart skipped a beat when I saw the first featured library. I used to work for Osceola County, seen that children's room many, many times :)

anonymous on January 11, 2012:

I also liked the concept of the Children's interactive library and I noticed on your bio page that you write for E How a site that I just love

aliciamaggie54 on September 10, 2011:

These are good themes. I like the video of the children's library of the future.

bechand on August 21, 2011:

there are so many great ones - i have been to many libraries and I must say the kids room is always decorated with creativity ! (I wish the whole library was so decorated)

WorldVisionary on June 28, 2011:

Wonderful ideas! Thumbs up.

Patricia on April 12, 2011:

Great ideas!

magicgeniewishl on April 05, 2011:

What a great idea! I am going to have to do something like this in my new house. I have a kids retreat where I was looking for ideas for the walls, this is a perfect lens for ideas, thanks!

cuteordeath on April 04, 2011:

This brought back so many memories! My mom managed the children's room at both the local library and my school library, and she made amazing displays. She always did them on a tight budget, too. I was (and still am!) really proud to be her daughter.

One theme that was always well-received was anything to do with Beatrix Potter!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on January 21, 2011:

Virginia, I lensrolled my story My First Love Was A Library! to this. Love this lens, because yes, the library I fell in love with was almost a second home, very comforting to me.

anonymous on September 22, 2010:

These are awesome themes for kids' libraries. I enjoyed this so much.

I really like going to the library when my granddaughter it here visiting.

She always finds some great books to read, and gets to play with others.

Ann Hinds from So Cal on September 16, 2010:

I enjoyed this lens. My mother was a children's librarian when I was small and moved to high school when I did. Most of my life was spent in libraries and I wish we'd had a tin man.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on September 13, 2010:

@indigoj: I retired as a librarian, but still feel a kinship for libraries and librarians. You are right that inspiring children to love books is vital to their future success.

Indigo Janson from UK on September 12, 2010:

It's so important to instill a love of reading in children and let them feel they belong in a library. You've suggested some fantastic ways to go about that.

KimGiancaterino on September 11, 2010:

Our local library (right down the block) is very kid friendly, but could sure use a makeover. I like the ideas you've presented here, especially the beautiful castle and dragon. Lensrolled to my DIY series.

LoKackl on May 03, 2010:

Cozy is the word when it comes to library children's areas. SquidAngel Blessed

oztoo lm on March 27, 2010:

Great idea for a lens. Anything that encourages children to read and enjoy books is a big plus to me.