So this section of my classroom library looks ready to go.
Don’t you think?
Add that to the regular summer tasks that happen in the classroom library and I have some work ahead!
This is Part 1 of a blog series about maintaining a classroom library and all of the summer tasks that might be involved. I am using my classroom library as an example but I hope that these reminders will be helpful and/or applicable to your own classroom library.
It all starts with returning items to where they belong and deciding if that is where they are going to stay.
These empty shelves are where all of our picture books that I read aloud rested. All of these (fiction and nonfiction) needed to be returned to their spots on my read aloud shelf. Other books from around the room from book boxes and display shelves also need to find a place.
Let the sorting begin!
As I returned books, I realized I was out of space (there may have been some new books acquired over the year . . . ) and so some of my read aloud titles were put in yet more piles to be relabelled and moved into the classroom collection.
Every book has a home, even if it is getting a new home, each one has a home. This means, organization, space and thinking about how books are used in the classroom.
I differentiate between a read aloud collection and a classroom collection of books (more on this below)
Here are some things to think about:
- Do you want a place for a read aloud collection where the books are rotated into the classroom for students to access?
- Do you need a place for mentor texts for writing inspiration?
- Do you want to have some books organized by theme? For both fiction and nonfiction?
- What about the general collection of books? How is this organized? Think about picture books (fiction and nonfiction) graphic titles and chapter books.
- What kind of shelf space do you have? Do you need? Can you source?
- Do you have space for a read aloud/theme books collection? Can you easily access it?
- Do you want to/need to rotate books in and out of your classroom collection?
This is my system and works for my collection of books. In order to make something work for your collection of books, you will need to sort books into sections of your room so that all books have a place and you have easy access.
In my read aloud collection I have:
- Some shelves filled with bins of books organized by theme. Some of these themes include:
- Death and Grief
- Peace and War
- Refugee experience
- Literacy (reading)
- Literacy (writing)
- A tall read aloud shelf divided into fiction books (organized alphabetically by author) and nonfiction books (organized by topic) My nonfiction topics are here along with book lists which I update a few times a year.
- Some bins of teaching books which hold Reading Power themed titles and mentor texts for writing (again organized by themes like word choice).
In my picture book collection (in bins or on shelves around the room), books are also organized into themes (and all have coordinating stickers on the back that match the bin) At this point, my bin/shelf titles include:
- Rhyme and Repetition
- Fairy Tale/Myth/Legends
- Realistic Fiction
- Animal Stories
- Buddy Reading Bin
- Favourite Authors (which keeps expanding)
- Picture Book Fiction (for when they don’t fit in another bin!)
I am in the process of changing my nonfiction bins again . . . So more on these later.
I also have a shelf for graphics and comics. Chapter books are organized by genre and series.
At this stage of organizing (the mostly putting all of the books back stage) I am thinking about these things:
- Does this book belong in the general access or read aloud collection? Will it get lost in a bin and never looked at? Is this a book that my current students are likely to discover on their own? Is this a book that I want to read for #classroombookaday?
- Is this a book that needs to be weeded out? Why? Is it beyond the normal wear and tear? Is it damaged? Is it never looked at?
- What books have I forgotten about? Should I keep a list of a future theme for #classroombookaday? Do I see a book that will inspire a future art project? A science lesson? Is this a must read title?
- What seems to be missing from the collection? Do the picture books in the classroom represent our learners? Are they windows into other experiences? Do chapter books and transitional titles include enough diverse titles? What’s missing?
This is the easy stage in many ways. Piling. Relocating. Thinking. Musing. List making. I am now moving on to the weeding and the temporary storage stage as titles that are more suited for my Grade 4s and 5s need to be somewhere else when my Grade 3s arrive. A temporary somewhere else as some may make their way back into the collection for specific readers I haven’t yet met.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed
Please share any questions or ideas in the comments!