A lot of book tree creators wrap their books with a solid color paper or use books of a series that are the same color and size for ease of stacking (way to use those old solid green tax codes, librarians!). Most of them appeared to be green, but I thought red would be far more festive, so I hunted up books with spines in a shade of red that came from topics not likely to be used for research this time of year (we are in the midst of World Civ and U.S. History term papers, but they have a limit on how modern the topic can be). Modern China and the feminism section of the 300s yielded major dividends, so I pulled those and plenty of others so I had a nice smorgasbord of red to choose from.
Students, eager to
Our bound National Geographic magazines stretch back to the 1920s and the bindings are in varying shades of red, just like bricks! To offer the right about of stability to the stacking, we did two rows of books on each side, sliding in a piece of black foam core to emulate the inside of a fireplace. I got a perfect piece of stiff foam at Joann's for under $10 (we used this to measure the distance of the books for the fireplace) and I covered it with a couple yards of cheap red felt, secured with quilting pins. A three dollar red sparkle bow, also secured with pins, polished up the mantle into a showpiece and I had to get a little doormat that looked like a carpet at Kmart. It was perfect for our menorah, and I love the feature of the kraft paper wrapped books for logs and with the construction paper flames coming out of them (a good use for a few reference discards).
We won the contest and our kids were SO proud of the display and made a point of dragging other students over to see it if they hadn't been in the library for a day or two. When I went to our main school building to hear the results of the contest, the kids knew that the day of reckoning had come - I didn't realize they were all lingering in the library to hear who had won after school. When I walked in with the trophy (a spray painted ugly tree from Goodwill that will now be our Stanley Cup equivalent in years to come), the whole library broke out into spontaneous cheering! We even made a triumphal video (only available to Facebook users since it's so embarrassing how we are hamming it up dancing to "Eye of the Tiger").
I'm already thinking (and pinning ideas) about what we can do next year. This was such a fun "before holiday break" activity at a time when we most need a little focus and lift in the school year.