Row after row of books.
Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.
Fiction, adventure, mystery, nonfiction, poetry, and yes, even multiple copies.
A classroom library.
Today I was feeling very nostalgic for that classroom library that I had so carefully organized years ago even though I would do it differently now. But it didn’t matter. No children were harmed by my lack of knowledge about better ways to display and organize books for student use.
It didn’t matter. On the first day of teacher workshop days, I found out my room was moving. The time spent in reorganizing my books on my own time was totally wasted. Everything had to move.
The collection numbered in the thousands.
Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.
No longer to be displayed on bookshelves.
No room for shelves in a room with built in cabinets and doors.
What’s the big deal about classroom libraries?
I love to talk, read, write, think, and breathe reading and writing. Ad nauseam. I served as the principal author of this Literacy Leadership brief: “Creating Passionate Readers Through Independent Reading.”
So this is a topic near and dear to me … passionate readers as well as classroom libraries as evidenced by my writing about It’s All About the Books by Clare Landrigran and Tammy Mulligan here.
I had the good fortune to be in Shana Frazin’s choice workshop titled, “Absolutely Nothing Matters More than Creating Classroom Libraries that Help Readers Grow with Purpose and Passion.”
That is ONE. BIG. BOLD. CLAIM!
And, of course I agree. The data from Scholastic’s Reading Summits that Shana shared is like the frosting on the cake.
Reading boils down to two statements:
- Students need access to many books.
- Students need choice in what to read.
In order to have access and choice, equity could become a hurdle. Other problems might surface. Lucy Calkins encouraged us in the keynote to confront problems, blow them up, and then begin looking for solutions. This is a complex topic as many administrators believe that they’ve already “bought books and “done the right thing” for students because there are books in all the rooms. “Having books” does not guarantee that all books will be quality books.
Step One: Weed (1. Redistribute, 2. Donate, 3. Reorder, 4. Recycle)
Misleading (inaccurate, outdated or insensitive terminology or illustrations)
Ugly (yellowed, brittle pages; poor binding; stained, worn cover, etc.)
Superseded (newer & better edition available; too many copies)
Trivial (minimal intrinsic value; easily available elsewhere)
Irrelevant (outdated topics for current times)
Available Elsewhere (school media center, public library, online)
(Boone. Texas State Library)
Step 2: Inventory
Identify gaps so future orders are deliberate and thoughtful. There are many ways to inventory to make sure you have the variety needed for your classroom collection. Students can help identify the types of books, the actual counts, and then some of the issues that may surface. Physically sorting the books draws attention to these characteristics and can be done a shelf or two or a bin or two at a time.
What year were the books published?
If you have a sports category, how many of those books have females as main characters?
Do your books reflect your students as mirrors or windows? (Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State) Link
Step 3: Add Books
Don’t stop til you get enough… Books!
Step 4: Think Deeply about Organization.
Level your books for you the teacher. But don’t write “Letters” designating levels on all the baskets. Invite your students to help label baskets. Be creative. Take one of your books and think of “labels” that might fit these categories. (Try this out at a PLC or staff meeting.)
CHALLENGE … can you think of at least 10 labels for a book of your choice?
|Reacting to Text|
|R U o S|
|If you Loved . . .Try . . .|
Step 5: Create a culture of loving books!
Book Talks, Book Buzzes, Book Tweets . . .
This was my second look at this acronym for “weeding” books from Boone at the Texas State Library and I really like the idea of a systematic way to review books with student help. I believe any age of students could provide feedback to the teacher about the classroom library collection with this criteria.
What’s your plan for your classroom library?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
Our classroom library is indeed where it all begins. I want that library to take center stage! Your post gives me good food for thought to share with my teachers. And boy do I love that MUSTIE analogy.
Great to meet in person yesterday!
Always fun to meet up with “Slicers” in real life. Hope to see you again this week!
A quality library for center stage – a fabulous goal!
I have three classrooms. One has an extensive library, but I am slowly building up the other two as well. I did some weeding this year and will keep this in mind as the year goes on. It’s so hard to weed. It takes time and energy. I was glad the librarian wanted my boxes of weeds for the school book exchange. They didn’t even have to go into my small car.
Shana suggested having the students help weed. If they choose classics, it might be a sign to book talk them! The struggle is real!
Classroom libraries really are the heart of any classroom. They should not just be found in a Language Arts classroom but every classroom no matter what subject is taught there. I think this helps students realize that reading is part of life not just one subject.
Yes, to every classroom! Everywhere in every school building!
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