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Misleading (inaccurate, outdated or insensitive terminology or illustrations)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Superseded (newer & better edition available; too many copies)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.
Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All schools are in session. Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in. It’s that time of transitions. No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes. Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.
I remember kindergarten in a country school. It was less than four miles from our house. Easy access. A true neighborhood school. The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined. I loved that I was allowed to read. I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.
And then first grade was in town. In an addition to the school. First grade with other first grade classes. First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library. First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter. First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers. That wasn’t her picture. First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn. First grade where I was going to conform. First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
First grade when I hated school.
Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time. They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around. I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines. I wanted the task to be done. I wanted to be able to read, write and draw. Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.
“I have a dog whose name is Spot.He likes to eat and drink a lot.When I put water in his dish,He laps it up just like a fish.” *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)
Which school better met my needs?
Access and Equity matter. All students need access to quality education. Equity is huge. The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here. There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!
What’s our goal?
If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books. That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code! Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!
And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books. Books that match their interests! Books that make sense to them!
Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?
Communicating as a priority. Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!
Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world. No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”! Has you thinking been challenged?
A focus on learning NOT assessing.
The real tangible goal. Are ALL students progressing? Are all students learning self-assessment? Are students developing their own goals and agency? Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas? What are your students telling you? Do they love learning? Are they curious?
Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .
How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer?
What are you still wondering about?
What questions do your need answered?
What quotes would you add?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
“Because you know I’m all about the books,
‘Bout the books, everywhere
I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom
I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom
I’m all ’bout reading, ’bout the books,Because you know I’m all about reading,
‘Bout the books, Read Alouds too
I’m all ’bout independent reading, ’bout book sets.
I’m all ’bout book clubs, ’bout, partners too
I’m all ’bout the books (books)I’m all ’bout learning, all about growing,
I’m all ’bout poetry, all about the series,
I’m all about adventure, and mystery
We gon’ read fantasy, historical fiction, and nonfiction too.We know that books save lives
We know they make you feel
We know they take you places
We know they open up the worldWe know they are a must
We know that readers have to read
Do you have a bookroom?
What is the purpose of your bookroom?
There is no “ONE” right way to set up a bookroom. Tammy and Clare suggest that you can use a closet, a room, a portion of the school library for a bookroom or “book annex”. The initial step is to inventory your books and the forms that are available from the Heinemann Publishing online resources.
Do all students have enough books to read (volume) to both grow and be inspired to be a life-long reader?
Students need daily access to more books than they can read so they can have choice. If students are to be reading independently for 30 minutes each day, they need choices from a “limitless pool” of books. That’s the purpose of the bookroom. Choice involves considering a redesign or redeployment of current book inventories. Considering how to meet multiple instructional needs may require changes: some books in six packs for guided reading/small group instruction, some books as singles for independent reading and some books in 2s/3s for book clubs. All.without.purchasing.more.books.at.this.time!
Live dangerously. Check out your bookroom. Are there some books that are starting to collect dust because they haven’t been read recently?
If those are six packs of books in zip-lock baggies, Tammy and Clare suggest that you may want to consider having them redistributed as singles for independent reading. This is especially true for the beginning levels where students will need a high volume of books to read daily. To Consider: Maybe not all of the books need to be in sets of six in the bookroom. Is that a novel thought?
What are some other possibilities?
What are the key topics that your students are interested in? If it’s animals and you are a kindergarten teacher, you may want some A and B books in a basket labeled “Animals”. The label will NOT say A/B This may even be a basket with a mixture of fiction and nonfiction books (my thinking). If your first grade students like animals, you may need an E/F basket of animal books or an I/J basket of animal books. Again, the label will be the topic. The labels might be topics, authors, or general like “Laugh Out Loud”. Think of how easy it might be to “use” these books in your classroom if the books are already organized into baskets of approximately 20 books that you would be ready to check out and go!
What books do you need more of in your classroom? Books for independent reading? Books for book clubs? Books for small group instruction? Your classroom needs and student interests can help you figure out additional ways to organize books that may include your science and social studies curricula support as well. Sharing and redistributing books will keep the dust off and provide more reading for more students! What if you were able to reorganize your bookroom with a variety of combinations of books in order to enhance the readerly lives of your students?
If students are going to read a lot and become readers who love to read, they need access to books. A lot of books. Single books for independent reading are needed in many classrooms because “rereading” the guided reading books are boring after awhile as are the Xeroxed books at the low levels, and perhaps FEWER books are needed for guided reading, especially after Level K. (Moving to “strategy groups” for instruction allows the teacher to use the same mini-lesson for all students and provide practice in a text that shows they fully understand the strategy.) Practice, practice, practice in texts allows the student to build confidence and a skilled teacher can also consider how to close the gap for striving students. That means fewer books will really need to be stored in groups of six. Instead, baskets of books could be set up in the bookroom so teachers are able to rotate baskets to provide “new” titles for classroom libraries without depleting the school library. Independent student reading books can be refreshed and reinvigorated for immediate access in the classroom. (And it books are reassigned, perhaps the school book budget can now include some “new” purchases as new titles are published!)
Check out this April 29, 2018 Facebook Live session with Tammy and Clare here.
What ideas about bookrooms have intrigued you?
What books could maybe be read more often if some changes were made in your current book collections?
Are you using your books in the most productive ways for students?
Heinemann has graciously donated a copy of It’s All About the Books for each stop on the blog tour. To enter, comment below and either post a picture of some part of your classroom library or your bookroom with the link in a comment or write about your thinking or your questions about bookrooms. At the end of the week (Friday after 8 pm), a random winner will be chosen to receive a copy of this fabulous new book!