Thanks for your comment! "Disappearing books" is an inevitable part of managing a classroom library. I do let my students take books home - it's the only way to really make sure that my students read every single night. (A minimum of thirty minutes of independent reading is a part of my daily homework for the students.) Of course books get lost and damaged, and I've tried many systems, but none of them truly seem to help. At the beginning of the year, I teach several mini lessons about respecting books, being responsible for the classroom library, and setting up a designated "borrowed bookshelf" at home for library books. I ask the parents to help me maintain our library and to stay on top of their children. I've tried using various "check out" systems - a binder with pages for each student, clothespins on the book baskets, and library pockets with index cards. However, I find that after the first few months, it becomes a burden to maintain the systems, and it doesn't really prevent missing books anyway.
The best solution for me is to just let the students borrow books as they need them, without a check-out system, and at the end of the year, I have a serious discussion with the students about missing books. I give them a guilt trip about how hard I've worked to build a rich classroom library and that I want future classes to also be able to read all of their favorite books. Then I make a deal with the students: For each "missing book" that is returned to the classroom, the students earn a minute of extra recess or playtime. During the last weeks of school, I can use the extra recess time anyway to help with the spring fever, and the students are highly motivated to find every single missing book (and some books that don't even belong to the classroom) to earn extra playtime minutes. I hope this works for you!
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