Today is my second installment of my Reader's Workshop MiniSeries! Today I'm sharing about an important instructional tool: Classroom Libraries.
Not everyone gets a classroom library issued from the school. Even when you do, yours may look more like this than you would like it to.
So the responsibility for a great classroom library is often on the teacher. A well-organized library can help your kids make appropriate book choices.
1. Less is more!
Well, not too much less. But when you're faced with having an enormous library full of books kids won't read, or a smaller library full of books kids will read, go for the latter. If there's too much in there, kids have to sort through the rubbish to get to the good stuff. And let's face it.... a lot of our kids don't have too much stamina for hunting through a crummy library!
2. Think Bookstore.
I was taught this by my first Literacy Leader. She said that bookstores do things for reasons. (I know, duh. But wait! There's more!) They break up the monotony by placing books in different directions on the shelf and by putting some on display. This gives your eyes (and your kids' eyes) places to go.
One easy way to do this is with book displays. Mine (in the picture above) came from a book set someone else purchased. It's durable cardboard, so I covered it with a glue gun and fabric.
Bookstands are also great for displaying books you want kids to notice:
I purchase baskets at the Dollar Store and put labels on each one. In my classroom, the library is divided into sections: Fiction and Nonfiction. I often separate the two into two different spaces. I had a student who called the Nonfiction section "The West Wing." lol
I also differentiated the labels by color, putting Fiction on green and Nonfiction on yellow, so students could easily tell the difference.
More popular baskets often include...
- Special authors, such as Lois Lowry, Barbara Park and Jerry Spinelli.
- Series books such as The Magic Treehouse, Bailey School Kids, and A to Z Mysteries
- Subjects such as school stories, holiday stories, and sports stories
- Genres such as historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.
4. Teach and Track!
A library sign-out sheet is also important for keeping track of your books. It's easy for kids to toss books back willy-nilly if they've never been taught to take care of them and return them to a special place.
I set a special day as the "Grand Opening" for the library. On that day, I teach students how to find books and we chart out some possibilities, using the color-code system.
I have a "Return Basket" and a librarian. As students return books to the basket, they mark that they are returned in the Library Binder. In the morning, before school starts, or during breakfast, the librarian returns books to the appropriate place in the library.