I continue working in my classroom library preparing it for the Grade 3 class I will have this fall. Books that have homes have returned to them. Books that had homes may have lost them as I have reorganized. Books yet to have homes are stacked ready to get labels and stickers and then will find a place. Books have been weeded and are in process of finding new spaces or being temporarily stored. What now? I am thinking about what my current library might need.
Note: This is the third post in a series. Missed the previous ones?
Additions are not simply about a shopping list. Or even a wish list. Additions begin from the noticing. What’s missing? What series do I need to expand? What do I need to be thinking about to best meet the needs of the readers in my classroom? The readers I haven’t even met yet.
I sit in various sections of my classroom and look at the shelves. I am looking with my eyes and I am looking with the potential eyes of future students.
I don’t have #3 of Anna, Banana. When is the next Piper Green title by Ellen Potter going to be released? Do I think this new group will enjoy the Violet Mackerel series?
The Heidi Hecklebeck series has a number of new titles. Should I be expanding the collection? Of course, I need the next Princess and Black titles! What am I missing?Do I know when the next Bad Guys title is out? Is the 65th Story Tree House title in soft cover yet? Arnie and the Donut? Will there be another title?
These kind of noticings are simple. What series has recently been adored and should I expand it? Am I missing specific numbers in a series so that the gaps will frustrate readers wanting the next book?
The next questions are a little more complicated. I am thinking about questions like the following as I put myself in potential reader shoes:
- If I am a kid who loves fantasy, are there books for me here? What if I am devouring thick chapter books? What if I am just beginning to read novels? What if I want to stick with picture books?
- If I like a particular kind of picture book, are there chapter books that I might also like? Can I find them easily?
- Can I find a bunch of funny books to read?
- If I am a series reader, are there a range of series at a range of levels about a variety of things for me to get lost in?
- If I find an author I love, are there more books that he/she wrote in the library?
- What if I want to read about things I might be experiencing? Like friendship struggles? Or having a new sibling? Or my parents breaking up? Feeling lonely? Different? Discriminated against? Can I find books that will help me understand more about myself? Are there books that can act as mirrors for me?
- Do I need to read about things that have not yet touched my life? Learn more about the world? Learn more about the lives of my peers? My parents? My neighbours? Are there books here that will be windows into other worlds and lives?
Putting my teacher hat back on, I need to think about questions like:
- Are my organization systems student friendly?
- Can children navigate the shelves independently (after some initial instruction and practice)?
- Can students help keep the library organized so that we can all use it with ease?
- Is there room for a range of readers in each genre?
- Are there obvious gaps in specific genres?
- Am I missing books that might have huge kid appeal but might not attract me? Can I make room for those books in our library?
- Is there a way for children to tell me, “Can we get books about . . . ?”
- Does my read aloud collection contain books that will allow us to laugh together? Learn together? Cry together? To be inspired? To be incensed? To shake up our thinking? To allow us to view things from new perspectives?
- Are there books in the library that tell the history of our country? Of neighbouring countries? About the world? What really happened? There needs to be titles about residential schools. About immigration. About racist policies that have changed or persist. Books that allow us to talk about discrimination. Rights. Fear.
- Do I have a wide range of picture books? Various genres? Lots of diversity? Short reads? Wordless titles? Longer reads? Great books to share together?
- Does my nonfiction collection contain books about a wide range of topics? Does the organization system make sense? Are there a variety of formats? Expository?Narrative? Fact books? What are the topic gaps?
- Graphic novels? How will we organize these books? Are popular series missing any titles? What is missing at the Grade 3 level? The graphic/comics shelf below is in process of being organized.
All books on the shelf should be invitations to read. The shelves need to call: “Hey you reader, you belong here! Have I got something for you!”
This is just the beginning. The start of some lists, of noting gaps, of wondering what else I might need. Further sourcing and list making will come later.
I don’t have endless book buying dollars so lists will remain wishes and over time, hopefully I will fill the gaps as I add to the collection. There needs to be room for the interests, passions and needs of this new class. I am repeating this again – this classroom library is fluid not fixed and will reflect the readers in the room. So there is a big unknown still to come as I get to know my new students. The most important additions I make to the library will happen when I begin to know these children.
But I need to know directions. What might be next? This allows me to find treasures here and there when I visit bookstores or sift through a box of books that a neighbour is giving away. I keep lists and notes about series in this little notebook and throw it in my bag when I remember.
My lists have begun.
Up next? How does everything stay organized as it moves into the library? I explain bins, labels, shelves and systems in this next post: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 4: The Details