This week I spent some time in my classroom cleaning up and clearing out. I do this every summer. When the organizing is complete, I get to do what I love best: revamp and revitalize my classroom library. This is a job that is thankfully, never done. I always have books to add, books to weed, and new ideas about how to organize. Every summer, I save this part of my “summer work” for last. It’s like delicious dessert. Sweet, satisfying and something to savour.
Always, the reason my library needs to keep changing is so that it keeps meeting the needs of the readers who use it.
I think about bins, displays, organization, labels, access, etc. I think about the interests, skills and needs of the readers. All this is quite solitary work which is fine. But, it is always so rewarding when we can share our reasoning and talk with other teachers about why we do what we do. I find I learn as much when I share as when I get to be the one asking questions of someone else about something in their practice.
This week I had a friend visit my room for a few hours. She is returning to the regular classroom after years of doing work with gifted students at the district level. We talked about various things. But a large focus of our discussion was about Reading Workshop and classroom libraries.
Later that evening, I was still energized from our discussion. I was looking through some old notes in a notebook I keep and I came across a list that I had made a few years ago. I wrote it after I had hosted a literacy study group in my room. The group leader wanted to have me talk about my classroom library and so she held their regular biweekly meeting in my classroom. This was quite a quiet group and they mostly asked questions about where I purchased various bins. An important question, yes, but a classroom library is about much more than the bins the books are housed in! I had titled the list: Questions I wished I had been asked. Of course, as I talked to the group I did address some of these things but I had been curious why I hadn’t been asked to explain in more detail.
- Where do you find your books? How do you keep current with what you might purchase?
- Why are some books in the regular collection and some are kept in a teaching collection?
- How do you decide how to organize the books? How do you teach this system to the kids?
- How do you introduce books?
- How do you ensure that students are reading widely?
- How many of these books have you read? Where do you find the time?
When I read this list over, I realized that my friend had asked me each of the things on this list as well as many more questions. The reason for my excitement? Engagement – hers and mine.
This is what I celebrate this week – the ability to share and discuss something I am always changing and always passionate about – my classroom library.
In the next few weeks, I will have the chance to begin making my annual library changes. I hope to blog a little more about what I am doing and that others will join in the discussion with me.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.