Teacher Tips for Classroom Libraries
Looking for a library lift? Discover Instructor readers' best practices for creating, organizing, and celebrating the classroom library
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Use Space Creatively
I use several shelves to divide my library into an entryway, a reading area, and a writing station. The shelves are filled with bins labeled by subject. Corresponding labels on the shelves make clean-up a snap!
—Sarah Fitzpatrick, Seattle, WA
Invite Student Input
I like to put my students in charge of setting up our library. We brainstorm ways to organize, such as by genre, subject, or level. Then I ask them to sort the library contents according to the parameters they've agreed upon. I like this exercise because students must think about how books are alike or different.
—Audrey Kennan, Plainsboro, NJ
Make it a Community Space
I always encourage parent volunteers to interact with my classroom library to make it more like a real-world library experience. For example, I might ask a parent to help "check out" the books. The parents love getting involved and the children practice and gain confidence in their library skills.
—Linda J. DiPasquale-Morello, Vineland, NJ
Take Advantage of Book Bargains
I buy 10 copies of any low-cost book promoted by book clubs. I also use bonus points to purchase books related to my curriculum. I store my collection by subject and level at home, and I put anything related to our current lessons in classroom bins for students to browse.
—Denise Jett, Jeffersonville, IN
Celebrate New Additions
Whenever I purchase a new book, I display the cover and read the blurbs to my students to pique their interest. We also discuss where the book should go. When it's time for silent reading, kids race to the library to check out the new materials!
—Donna Kirby, Ourango, CO
Start a Lending Library
Many of my second graders have very few books at home, so I encourage them to sign out materials from our library. I put pockets in each book with a labeled index card. To sign out a book, students write their names on the card and store it in a card file. I have seen tremendous growth in their reading scores thanks to this at-home reading practice.
—Sandi Fisher, Philadelphia, PA
Include Books For Every Level
No matter what grade I'm teaching, I set my library up with a wide variety of books-some easy, some " just right," and others that will challenge even my most advanced readers. Students have the opportunity to read something familiar for practice, but they can also set goals for themselves as readers.
—Amanda Hawk, Dale City, FL
Highlight Special Stories
I make sure to prominently display books I think will interest my special education students. Before our literacy lessons, I like to read a few action-packed paragraphs from one of these selections to get us pumped up for reading.
—Roxanne. Mdntyre, Lake Hughes, CA
Put Your Library on Wheels
I have a rolling cubby that I use to store books for my math, science, and social studies units. If I want to show a book during a lesson, the cubby is right by my side!
—Esther Rubi Chacon, Houston, TX