Inspire summer reading with a library wall for your boys' bedroom. Make this stunning DIY bookshelf project in just one day with a few basic tools.
This post has been sponsored by Disney Book Group. All opinions are 100% mine.
More frightening than a lost campsite reservation, more nerve-wracking than clothes shopping after a mid-summer growth spurt — watch out! It’s the dreaded summer slide!
My son's teacher warned of the summer slide between elementary school and middle school, encouraging him to read over the summer break to keep his skills up and avoid the dreaded slide.
As a mom of a tween, I worried that video games and social media might always take priority over reading during my son's summer days. What could I do to make old-school books more appealing than gaming consoles and Insta?
In my quest to overcome summer slide, I came up with three effective strategies to pull my son into pages rather than screens:
- Help him find books that he will get completely absorbed into
- Create an immersive reading experience through real-world activities
- Put books front and center with a bespoke library wall and reading nook right in his room
1. Find Compelling Books
The first part of my plan was to help him find books he really liked. Matthew loves to travel and learn about history. Some of his favorite anime to watch have historical references but are set in current times.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians boxed set seemed like a perfect fit, especially since he had read Book 1: The Lighting Thief, during this last school year.
This proud mama watched, smiling wide, as he picked up the set and got started reading right away.
2. Create Book-inspired Immersive Experiences
Once I saw how my son was hooked on this series, I suggested we do some real-world activities inspired by the books.
One way to make reading more enjoyable and connected to the physical world is to do activities based on the books.
Earlier this summer, we made blueberry Greek yogurt pops inspired by the blue foods and blueberries my son told me were mentioned in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. We're planning to visit a local museum to look at the Greek art and history exhibits and he's also been watching documentaries about Greek mythology on TV.
Now that he's on Book 3: The Titan's Curse, he wants to build a library of books to read, including his Percy Jackson and the Olympians collection. I can't think of a better DIY project to inspire a love of reading in your child!
3. Put the Spotlight on reading with a custom library wall
DIY projects are great for helping kids learn home improvement and problem solving. As you work on the project together, connect with your kid through conversation. Partnering to build this easy library wall is a bonding experience they'll likely remember into adulthood.
In this post, I'll be sharing all the steps to create a library wall in your kids' room in just one day:
- Choosing wall shelves
- Installing the shelves
- Decorating the shelves
If your kids' bedroom looks as plain vanilla as my son's does in this “before” photo, you're gonna love this DY project.
But first, we need to choose a bookshelf style to display the books.
Choosing a Kids' Bookshelf for your Wall Library
A quick search online revealed hundreds of examples of kids bookshelves, overwhelming us with choices.
After doing all of this research for myself, I've gathered the most popular wall bookcase ideas to help you find the perfect kids bookshelf.
Popular kids' book storage ideas:
- Basic bookcase – secure to the wall with an earthquake strap to prevent tumbling and fill with books, with the spines visible.
- Ladder shelf – tapered shelving unit with deep shelves on the bottom and shallow shelves on the top, usually for storing books with only the spines visible
- Spice racks – mount a spice rack to wall to hold several books with the covers visible.
- A-frame shelves – Shelves along a frame in an upside-down “V” shape against which the books lean displaying their covers, typical of book stores and school libraries.
- Built-ins – permanent shelves are built into the wall, typically with 8″ to 12″ deep shelves to display the spines of books.
- Frame shelves – picture frame ledges display books with the covers showing.
Choose a bookshelf to display your kids' books as art
Many children's books and young adult novels have beautiful artwork on the covers that is not visible in traditional bookcases, which display only the spines of the books.
Inspired by the a-frame shelving in his elementary school library, my son asked to build a library wall in his room to show off the stunning art on his favorite book covers.
His new complete set of all the books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will be front and center!
Build a Library Wall in A Day
The small bedrooms in some modern homes don't have the space for bulky a-frame shelving unit. We face this issue in our house.
We achieved a similar effect with picture-frame-shelves mounted directly to the wall.
Benefits of a frame-shelf wall library
Picture-frame shelves are:
- Affordable, at about $10-15 each
- Easy to find at most big box stores and furniture stores
- Quick to mount in just a few minutes per shelf
- Space-saving, fitting in small areas and making use of tall walls for storage
- Versatile: with the wall still visible behind the shelves, you can paint or wallpaper the walls for additional interest
Without the footprint of a traditional bookcase, the frame shelves save space, allowing for furniture or toys to be stored under the shelf area.
Since the shelves are bolted directly to the wall, there is no worry about tipping or need for earthquake straps.
Customize the wall before mounting the shelves
Consider painting the wall or decorating with wallpaper behind the shelves before painting for a more unique, custom look.
Since we have textured walls and can't use wallpaper, we decided to paint the walls.
Choose paint colors with your child
I allowed my son to choose paint chips from the paint counter at our local home improvement store. He decided to paint the area between each shelf a different color, for a horizontal striped effect.
He chose 4 colors, one color to be painted on the wall above each of the 4 shelves we planned to install.
Wall painting supplies
- Interior wall paint – choose a good quality paint in a finish to match the rest of the room. Most interior walls have an eggshell finish.
- Masking tape – to secure the drop cloth and for creating crisp paint edges.
- Drop cloths – to protect flooring and furniture.
- Paint rollers – Small rollers are easier for smaller kid hands to handle. Small rollers also work better to paint any narrow stripes you’ve marked off. Buy one small roller for each color of paint.
- Paint roller pan – to hold the paint and apply it to the roller.
- Angle brush – for cutting in at ceiling and side walls.
- Stir stick – ensure the paint is mixed well before using.
- Disposable plastic gloves: kids are not the best scrubbers when it comes to removing paint from their hands and nails
- Grubbies or clothing covers: only let kids use house paint in clothes you don’t care about
Additional supplies are needed to paint the stripes between shelves:
- Pencil – to mark the height of each stripe.
- Measuring tape – to measure the distance between each stripe.
Preparing the wall for paint
Before painting, preparation will ensure a smooth, gorgeous paint finish.
- Remove all papers, art, tape, and other items hung on the wall.
- Brush the wall with a broom or soft bristle brush to remove any dust or cobwebs.
- Locate and remove any pushpins, nails, or screws.
- Use spackle to patch over any visible holes. Allow to dry. Repeat as needed to fully fill the holes.
- Sand any rough edges or poky parts.
- For textured walls, add wall texture over any large spackled areas.
- Drape any furniture and flooring with drop cloths to protect them from paint.
Bonus! My son is always putting push pins into the walls even when he has a perfectly good bulletin board to use. I made him spackle all of the push pin holes and a small victory dance when he declared he was never putting push pins in the wall again!
Painting wall stripes with the kids
- Measure the distance top to bottom on the wall where the shelves will be mounted.
- Evenly divide the height by the number of shelves to determine the distance between each shelf.
- Mark the wall on each side at these intervals using the pencil.
- Secure a piece of masking tape to the wall at each set of marks.
- Apply the paint with the roller to each section.
- Wipe any drips with a paper towel to ensure a smooth finish.
- Allow to dry at least 4 hours before adding the shelves.
- Remove the masking tape when the paint is dry, unless the masking tape package advises otherwise.
If using multiple colors of paint you'll need multiple rollers. Determine the order of the colors on the wall and paint the stripes from top to bottom.
Darker colors may require more than one coat of paint. We had to apply two coats of paint because of the vibrant and deep colors we chose.
Your kids can help mask and paint the walls themselves under your supervision, helping them take ownership of the space. They'll appreciate their own hard work and handiness when the job is done.
Supplies to build a library wall with frame shelves
Here's what you'll need:
- Frame shelves
- Screws and anchors (for drywall)
- Drill or screwdriver
We wanted the frame shelves to go from edge to edge across the entire wall by using two frame shelves for each level of the library wall.
But the two shelves next to one another were slightly too long for the wall.
If you have the same issue, you'll need a saw to cut one of the shelves down to fit the wall. You'll need these supplies:
- Miter saw or saw
- Measuring tape
We used a miter saw but you can use a hand saw if that is what you own.
Cut the edge of the shelf that will be butted against a wall so that the unfinished, cut edge is hidden.
How to install a library wall in your kids bedroom
- Measure the distance between the shelves on the wall and mark with a pencil.
- Hold the shelf to the wall. Place level on top and reposition the shelf until level.
- Mark the holes in the shelf on the wall with a pencil. Set the shelf aside.
- Insert drywall anchors into the wall.
- Place the shelf back onto the wall, matching the holes in the shelf with the holes in the drywall anchors.
- Check that the shelf is level again. If not, adjust.
- Insert screws into the shelf holes and screw into place with a drill or screwdriver. Repeat for all shelves until completely installed.
Here's what the shelves look like against the painted stripe wall:
Fill the shelves with awesome books!
Work with your child to choose books to add to the shelves. Have fun creating groupings, mimicking how bookstores make eye-catching displays on their shelves.
If you don't have enough books to fill the shelves, add knick-knacks and framed art to fill out the shelves.
Watch this video to see the entire process from start to finish:
Create a book nook in your child's room
Once your frame shelf library is installed, consider adding bean bag chairs and large pillows to the floor to create a comfy reading nook. Or add tiny chairs or a small couch under the shelves for you to sit and read with the kids.
You can create a reading library in your kids room, yourself!
Now that you know the supplies needed and steps to take for creating a book nook for your kids, you are ready to do it yourself.
Get your child involved in this DIY by getting their input on paint colors, shelf styles, and books to display.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series looks stunning on my son's colorful frame shelf wall library and he's even more excited to finish the series before summer's over! I can’t wait to see what he reads next!
Ready to inspire summer reading with your kids?
My son is loving the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as it joins Greek mythology with current times and geographic locations. As a mom, I am glad to see him reading between school years as a way to maintain his skills and minimize learning loss over the summer break.
You can find out more about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians at ReadRiordan.com.
How are you inspiring your child to read this summer?
And if you plan to create a library wall in your kid's room, please share your results with me in the comments.
Save this project to your favorite Pinterest board: