Your classroom library may be a humble little bookcase with two or three shelves. It may have been built from enormous resources over the course of many years. But whatever the size, classroom libraries must be continually nurtured and helped to thrive and grow.
In my book, Simple Starts: Making the Move to a Reader Centered Classroom, you’ll find dozens of ways to make sure your library keeps growing, even when your resources are tight. Appendix A (free online from Heinemann)has ideas organized into three categories:
- Ideas that Don’t Cost a Dime
- Ideas that Cost Next to Nothing
- Ideas that Help You Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck
As you work to build a reader-centered classroom, you’ll also want to make sure you give the classroom library center stage. Books, after all, are the heart and soul of reading instruction and the hub of the reading classroom.
Keep the following goals in mind as you select the perfect space for this growing collection:
- Give the classroom library a place of honor. Don’t relegate it to a dusty back corner or the shelves nestled behind the guided reading table. Place it center stage. These books are the heart and soul of the independent reading program in your classroom.
- Make it easily accessible. Locating the library in an area that is crowded or difficult to get to will limit its use. Place the books in an area that is easily approached from several directions, has room for several students to browse at one time, and allows students to squat or sit in front of the shelves without encroaching on someone else’s space.
- Make it inviting. You needn’t go crazy, but consider simple ways to make your library inviting. Place it near a window. Remove any visual clutter. Define the space with a small area rug, or place beanbags or other comfortable seating nearby. Display favorite or thematic books on the tops of shelves. You want this space to have a good feel. You want kids to want to spend time here.
- Leave room to grow. As you get the word out that you are hungry for books and keep your eyes peeled for good deals your collection will grow at a surprising pace. Start planning for growth right away. Make sure there are simple ways to expand when you need more space. This way you’ll feel joyful instead of frustrated when you face the welcome problem of finding ways to integrate all the new books you’re acquiring.
Simple Starts: Making the Move to a Reader Centered Classroom is packed with ideas about how to continually expand your classroom book collection, organize it, and most importantly help students use it efficiently to find books they love!
Plant your library in the right spot. Give it some sunshine and love and watch your readers thrive and grow.