Overwhelmed at the thought of putting together a classroom library? When done right, a classroom library can be the busiest area of your classroom, inspiring students to read and research.
A helpful list to guide you as you’re planning your library can give you the direction you need. Make the most of your classroom library by including these fundamental elements that will make your library a success!
Obviously, the most important component of a library are the books. The books you’ll include require special consideration. Here are some things to remember:
Books for All Reading Levels
You’ll need to include books for all the levels of readers that you have in your class. This usually means you’ll need some books that are appropriate for students a few grades below and a few grades above your grade.
Be sure to include a variety of topics in your fiction books, appropriate for many interests. Some examples are: sports, fairy tales, realistic fiction, historical fiction, books with animals for characters, books that teach values, science fiction, space books, etc.
Nonfiction books are great because they include vocabulary that you often don’t find in fiction books. In addition, topics such as dinosaurs are almost guaranteed to interest students who won’t pick up a fiction book.
I’ve found that some students make their way into the library and enjoy poring over “how to” books when other books simply don’t catch their eye. Some examples of these are: drawing books, craft books, origami books and science experiment books. They may also inspire a flurry of interest in art and doing experiments, but they must read along the way.
Don’t put out all of your books at the beginning of the year, or plan on acquiring books periodically during the year. Why? There’s nothing that will peak your student’s interest quite like a new book or two in the library. Announce the new book to the class and you’re guaranteed to find them lined up waiting to read it.
2. Organization Plan
You need a plan to organize your library. For younger students, it’s helpful to label books with a sticker that indicate which basket or bin the books belong in. Younger students also need to be able to look through books while viewing the covers, this also makes bins a great option.
Older students can often manage with a code that goes in order and some labels on shelves. If you don’t have shelves, use baskets or bins.
3. A Plan to Manage Book Selection
For your library system to function, you’ll need to teach students how to pick a book that’s appropriate for their reading level. Some teachers use a metaphor such as picking the right sized shoe, to explain how to find a book that “fits” the reader. Find a system that works for you and your students.
4. System for Upkeep
Use a system that fits in with your classroom management plan. If you assign jobs, make sure that you have a library job. Or, reinforce your library organization plan regularly and host a routine “clean-up” event every so often. The main purpose of upkeep is to ensure that your books are kept in the space they are meant to be and any damaged books are taken care of.
5. Feature Sections
Use a feature section such as book stand or a special shelf where you feature books that are new or that may fit in with what you’re studying. Doing an ocean unit? Place the books about dolphins, fish and sea turtles in a prominent position. This will help maintain interest in the library space and excite students about reading.
So, while setting up a classroom library may feel like a big task, follow these key elements and you’ll be on your way to a great start. The most important thing is to get going! You can adjust and tweak your system along the way.
Already have a great classroom library? Tell us in the comments what you consider to be your library essentials.