Today I would like to talk to you about some classroom library do’s and don’ts. I've got a few things that you should not do in your classroom library as well as some things you SHOULD do in your classroom library. Let's get started.
First thing I always say is, do NOT level the books in your classroom library. I am a firm believer in keeping the books leveled behind the scenes. I only use book levels for my direct instruction with students, like in guided reading. I want the classroom library to be a place where there is no leveling. I don’t want to tell my kids you can only read books that are a level “G” or that are the color red. So I keep the levels behinds the scenes. Instead of organizing them by level, I organize them by either genre, author, or by interest.
Another thing to keep in mind is to not have “open” classroom library time. Instead, establish library times in advance. At the beginning of the year, and sometimes in the middle, as a refresher, I will do a mini-lesson in my reading workshop about the classroom library. In this mini-lesson, I will establish the times that are appropriate for students to be visiting the classroom library. We will come up with rules and expectations and make an anchor chart. Then, I'll take that anchor chart and display that right there in the classroom library. That way, there will be no excuses for a student to be in the library at the wrong time. For me personally, I like the times to be either before school, after school, between class, or maybe right before recess. Whatever is an appropriate time in the day for your class to be visiting the classroom library, set that up and make that plan together.
Do not limit the students book choices in your classroom library, instead, teach students how to choose books that are appropriate for them. Teach them to choose books not only appropriate for their ability, but for their interest as well. Not every book will be interesting to every reader. So, teach students how to find books that are a good fit for them.
Another thing to keep in mind is don’t depend on students to organize and label your book. This is a big one. I've done this in the past and its gotten me into trouble. Instead of having your students help you, use your best judgment to group and label books on your own. As your library grows, of course, you’ll be adding more bins, books, and labels. Just make sure you are the overseer of that because even with the most trusted students, it can get messy.
Also, I recommend having someone on library duty. At the end of the day, this student will go to the library and make sure that everything is right. All the books made it back to their bins, and that the library is clean. That's another great mini-lesson you can do. Talk to your kids about how to check out books and how to put them back correctly so that everyone can enjoy the library for the entire year.
I hope this chat helps you to think about how to organize your classroom library and to think about some things to do and not to do with it. If you enjoyed today’s lesson you can find this post and many more on iTunes, Spotify, or Alexa Briefings. Click here to listen
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