#SOL16: March Challenge Day 21 – Books


So, yeah!

I have this problem.

This one teeny-tiny little problem.

I like books.

I like books a lot.

I have had summer jobs for over 10 20 30 years just to pay for my book habit.

In fact, I would not be stepping out on a limb here if I said,


So when I heard that TCRWP was going to develop lists of books for classroom libraries,

one side of me said,

“YAY, now I will know what the top of the line BEST books are!”

while the more frugal side of me said,

“Darn, I’ll need another job because this is really going to hurt my book budget!”

90th Saturday FREE Reunion – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

trumpet circle

So here is what I think I heard in Session 4.  Get the Latest Scoop on Books and on the To-Die-For-Classroom Library Project

Lucy Calkins, Shana Frazin, Norah Mallaney. Molly Picardi and Heather Michael were all gathered in 136 Thompson to explain progress with the #TCRWP Classroom Library Project. (If you have not heard about the classroom project, you can read about it here on the TCRWP website. Read it now and then come back!)

Goals / Process:

  • Develop a state of the art classroom library that students will want to and will be able to read.
  • Make sure every word of every book is read so no surprise language exists anywhere.
  • Represent the diverse culture we see in our current world.

Lists were solicited from teachers and other TCRWP literacy aficionados.   However, approximately  50% of the books on the lists were picture books. The review team has searched for chapter books, when appropriate by level, to increase the volume of print as well as continued to monitor a balance of fiction and nonfiction.  Book levels were also a concern as Lucy said, “Levels need to be accurate. We want the right books in kids’ hands; books they can and do read!”

Here are pictures of book covers of some of the books recommended for the libraries of students in grades 3 – 5.

And then for students in grades K 2:

  • Rigby’s Where does Food Come From?
  • Hammerray – Mrs. Wishy Washy

The group shared some of the things they had learned before a quick guided tour of the book review work.

  • Titles for book bins do matter so the labels will be preprinted.
  • Curating a collection of books that will sustain students’ interest is hard.
  • High-low books are not all equal for middle school readers and finding age-appropriate and conceptually appropriate leveled books for MS students is tough.

Lucy reiterated that these would NOT just be your favorite books and few picture books would be included in classroom libraries.  Why? Because 4 student chapter books could be bought for the price of one picture book. The few that are included will be in the brief “Read Aloud” section of the shelf!

What books do you know?

What books look interesting to you?


I ordered (10 books) and saved copies of those book covers during the session (to my “blog pictures” folder on my desktop).  Ten was my limit! I read through my notes on Sunday and pulled the pictures of the remaining book covers and spent time perusing Hameray and other book publisher sites.  A.lot.of.time! (Remember I said I had a book problem. Did you really think I could click without stopping to read?  I had to look up Joy Cowley and then I was interested in her woodworking and then back to just how many Mrs. Wishy Washy books are there?  Wonder  .  .  .  I created the opening, defined my categories, added the tags and then pasted in my notes from my Word Document.  I did have to reload all the pictures into WordPress, but I had put the names into my doc so it went quickly.

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!






29 responses

  1. You had me at … books.
    I am going over to the Classroom Project now.

    1. Kevin,
      It’s impossible to describe how really LOVELY these books are going to be! ❤

  2. Anything having to do with books excites me! I do empathize with the budget aspects though. Ouch! I had hoped to attend TC this weekend but opted to spend the last weekend of their spring break with my college-aged kids. I feel like I was the winner there, but wish I could have been a fly on the wall in NYC…Thanks for sharing a slice of your day.

    1. If you haven’t yet, check out Sally Donnelly’s posts. She has already written about the whole day. I’m savoring the small slices!

  3. Yeah, books- I am addicted and I only have 4 of the ones you show for grades 3-5, so there will be a problem when I see the whole list (and by problem I mean a lot of book buying)! Thanks for sharing!

    1. There is a sense of addiction, but definitely in a good way! I have one already read on my kindle and they definitely live up to their promise! ❤

  4. Hi, Fran. Of course, all great ideas here. I probably own over 3000 picture books, so Fran, I understand what you were saying about summer jobs and paying for books. For teachers of writers, picture books are great because they can be shared in one sitting but returned to many, many times as mentor texts. I have watched hundreds and hundreds of students use them, too – to study and to imitate. While I do get the money issue for classroom libraries, I think picture books are so powerful that we should continue to, at the very least, have a collection of picture book mentor texts to use and duplicates for our classroom library (as well as myriad chapter books) – many now are also available in paperback and are not as expensive.

    1. Great points, Lynne, and the fact that there are already picture books attached as mentor texts to the writing units is another testament to their value. I wonder if, since this was just a snippet, that like all things we need to check the balance. I’m guilty. Probably two thirds of my books are picture books. On the reading side, to get enough practice, the kiddos may need more text than what they find there? Just my thinking!

  5. Hi Fran,
    Yes, this project seems so exciting. I am glad you wrote about this session because I didn’t get there. Your post was filled with such eagerness and hope that I got excited about the possibilities! Thank you!

    1. Christine,
      Books to support readers are greatly needed. Lots more “criteria” to think about when choosing books! ❤

  6. I’m with you Fran but life has changed a bit for me now that i’m digital. I don’t even realize how much I spend on books. But we both love them FOR SURE!!!!!

    1. Bonnie,
      I still know even with the digital books. I have already read the Babe Ruth one on my kindle and cannot RAVE enough about the quality and historical accuracy especially since Babe Ruth is literally a cousin!

  7. One can never have too many books…just look at my book shelves and what is on my Kindle. I can never leave a book store empty handed. In getting ready for this year’s PCTELA conference I am getting books by Sharon Draper, one of our featured speakers. If there is a cure for loving and having too many books I hope I never come across it.

    1. Bob,
      That’s a cure that I’ll pass on as well. I have several Sharon Draper texts – the kids love her books! There’s always a need for books. I have to make sure I have at least two for the trip home. Darn . . . I may have to buy another!

  8. I just wrote about my books collection and addiction earlier this week. A summer job to pay for my habit . . . Now that is an interesting idea! I love this project, had heard about it earlier. So important to have so many rich reading experiences in our classroom

    1. Carrie,
      My book budget has always been financed by outside work so I never have felt guilty about the amount of books nor the choices! The project is going to introduce students and teachers to books that will really grow an independent reading habit!

  9. I’ll check out the whole list, but have read many of these. Microbes is excellent, as are the Ranger In Time books, so accessible as time travel books for young readers. Of course you know that many of us are book lovers. I just returned from a trip to my local Indie, a lovely morning journey! Thanks for sharing about this, too, Fran.

    1. I just sent a colleague to my favorite Indie last week – so nice to be able to see the books before ordering when looking for some specific gifts! I’m a huge Kate Messner fan and love following her research as well! I’m not so big on science topics – have been waiting for the NGSS to be adopted before adding to those collections but history has always been a love and there are so many ways that genres can be mixed! Thanks!

  10. You have given me so much to think about, Fran…and plan for! Great post, great session – wish I’d been there!

    1. Tara.
      I think just hearing about the criteria is honing my “eyes” as I look at texts for students. What I may have said was OK before may not be the most supportive for students. Doesn’t mean they are “bad” books or shouldn’t be used; means they need to be matched carefully with readers! ❤

  11. You crack me up! I laughed out loud when I read the line, “Darn, I’ll need another job because this is really going to hurt my book budget.” HA! It has taken several years, but I have finally trained my family to buy me Amazon gift cards any time they want to give me a gift. Those cards I like gold to me. All year long I keep my wishlist updated so when I finally get a card I can choose from all the titles I have collected. It is my own little slice of heaven.
    Happy job hunting!

    1. Erin,
      It literally is my “grad class money” that I spend on PD or books. I try to support my Indie as much as possible – love having a bookstore near me!

  12. Is there another reason to work? Read books, buy books, share books, love books, reread books….

    1. Oh, I love that repetition! Works for me!

  13. So, I’m trying to understand. Are these new libraries from TCRWP for reading or for writing? Are they supposed to be in lieu of mentor texts for writing or are they just classroom libraries?

    1. Stacey,
      They are classroom libraries to support independent reading! Not for writing!

      Thanks for that question! ❤

  14. […] Session 4:  Lucy and the Classroom Library Project – Reading […]

  15. […] So, yeah! I have this problem. This one teeny-tiny little problem. I like books. I like books a lot. I have had summer jobs for over 10 20 30 years just to pay for my book habit. In fact, I would not be stepping out on a limb here if I said, "I LOVE BOOKS." So when…  […]

  16. […] of choices that was incredibly difficult. (You can read about those sessions here, here, here, here and here.)  The #TWT Blog Series could be read in order or as I had time to savor the content. […]

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