Before including descriptions from the third of four posts on the topic of classroom libraries, I must answer I question that has been directed at me and teachers like me who insist students need a classroom library: Why spend money on this when there is a perfectly good library available to the students in your building? That’s a fair question, and the following are three of the reasons why I see it as something worth my time and money.
1) My librarian is in charge of purchasing materials for grades K-6, so she can’t focus on quality examples of texts for only my 6th graders. I can do a better job of focusing in on the books they enjoy and the materials that I think I can book-talk into their hands. There are many books I have purchased that kids have devoured, loved, and pushed on their friends that our library does not even own. My students still get practice going to the library and looking for books there every week so they don’t end up missing out on that authentic experience which they will take part in outside of school.
2) I have quick access to books when necessary. Is a student looking for an example of science fiction to try? We can walk over to the shelves and pull a few out to look through. Did I want a good nonfiction book for illustrating how to use text structure? I know of a dozen that I can grab and show on the ELMO. Do kids need good examples of hooks to use as models for a piece of their writing? There are hundreds to peruse, and these are only a few feet away. If I own the books, I know what I have immediately available for my use to help support student readers.
3) It’s very easy to demonstrate my love of reading. When I spend time reading books from my library, I can put them up on my shelves or pass them to students without worrying about due dates or having them lost from the school library and incurring fines. Books can be handed off to readers and put back on shelves in a few minutes time. Plus, my ownership of books helps to show students that owning books is something people do when they find books they enjoy.
If anyone has other reasons they think owning a classroom library is important, feel free to leave them in the comments section at the bottom of this post. And now to continue with three more classroom libraries:
Liz is a 5th grade teacher who provided the following photos and description of her recently revamped library:
My decision to organize the books in my library into genres this year was based on the idea of embedding reading into my writing curriculum. My genres are color-coded in correlation with our 30 Book Club expectations as as the monthly theme utilizing our Six Traits Writing modes. I have already found that
students can find books more easily since books are organized the way students look for them.
We are also able to find holes in our collection this way. After only two weeks of school, I have already ordered more books for our horror section. The sports, humor, and mystery sections seem pretty sufficient for my readers so they are not a priority at this time. I am a fan of anything that makes shelving easier and this project definitely does. My students are learning to define genre during their search for good-fit books, as well as by pointing out when someone put a book away incorrectly. I now have no doubt that by the end of the year my students will easily understand genre, a state-tested concept for elementary language arts.
The pictures below are from a husband and wife team of teachers who constantly share their love of reading with their students. The summary below is written by Dr. Biggs-Tucker who shares her thoughts about the books in her library:
My classroom library is the “heart and soul” of our classroom and takes up most of the perimeter of the classroom space with the rest of the room being filled with student desks!?!?! It houses about 1000 books that range from middle grade readers to young adult novels. I work hard to have many current titles that students may not have read already and pride myself on having things on my shelf that even the library doesn’t carry yet! :)) The library is organized alphabetically by author so that students from any of the other fifth grade classrooms can easily come in and find a title that they might be looking for during their reading time to check out to read… My motto is “a book for every child and a child for every book” and it might even be on one of my bookshelves!
Part four coming soon! Happy reading!