It is the heart and soul of the reading classroom.
The source of the next great read.
A joyful place where hundreds of titles live waiting anxiously to be discovered by yet another child.
The words “too many books” should never be strung together in sequence, right? So, why then would any teacher of sound mind actually get rid of books?
Because we don’t just want books. We want GREAT books.
Book collections are living and growing things, much like gardens and we don’t want just anything to grow there. We want the right stuff to grow. When weeds slip in, we pull them out by their roots lest they steal precious nutrients and sunlight from the real jewels of our garden.
The same is true of our classroom libraries. Sometimes in a rush to build them up too quickly, we let some weeds in. We are so anxious to fill our baskets and shelves and make sure kids have lots of variety and choice, that we actually complicate things. Sometimes we take in books that were duds to start with. Sometimes we allow books to stay too long, becoming outdated, ragged, and shabby. We pile in books that have never been recommended to anyone. We’re excited about getting more books, but don’t think carefully enough about their true value to our kids.
So, what’s the harm of having a few “duds” in the collection, anyway? Especially when you know there’s lots of good stuff? Well, duds just complicate our students’ quest for great books. They make it harder to find the good stuff. They set kids up to select some books that are “just books” rather than “just-right-books”. They increase the risk of kids having books in their hands that neither engage or excite them.
In her post Goodbye to My Classroom Library, Permille Ripp shares her experience tearing down her so-so classroom library, in order to build it up again with only the best of the best.
Believe me, I know its hard to let go of stuff. I’m a packrat from way back.
Because budgets are always so tight, we feel as though we have to scrimp and save and beg and borrow to get what we have. We save egg cartons, and Cool Whip containers, and gently used wrapping paper knowing that someday they might be just what we need for a classroom project or activity.
When it comes to our book collections, however, we need to rise above that whatever-we-can-get-our-hands-on-mentality and instead adopt an only-true-treasures-for-our-kids-mindset. After all, these books are what will make or break our kids decisions about whether reading is a pursuit truly worthy of their time or not. Their choices are dependent on our choices.
So, my challenge to you is to take time to periodically do some “weeding” of your classroom collection. Sort through and simply ask yourself these four questions:
- Who will love this book?
- Who could I recommend this book to today?
- Is this the kind of book a child would want to return to and read again?
- Is this the kind of book a child would want to recommend to a friend?
Your answers to these questions will likely make it clear which books are worthy of space in your garden of books, and which are weeds, blocking sunlight from the real winners.
Remember, we want every visit to the classroom collection to result in kids leaving with winners!
Are you looking for ideas about how to organize, manage, and grow your classroom library in smart and sensible ways? Simple Starts; Making the Move to a Reader Centered Classroom is packed with the help you are looking for to insure that your kids consistently connect with books that they can and want to read.