It doesn't take a lot of money to build a quality classroom library, but it does require some careful planning. Use these tips to create a warm, welcoming space that is well-stocked with books your students will want to read.
1. Set the Stage
Design an inviting reading space. For cozy shared stories, offer a soft couch or bean bag pillows.
2. Display It!
Use low, sturdy racks. Place books facing out so that children can easily look at the covers and make their selections.
3. Feature It!
Draw attention to special books with colorful publisher's posters or signs illustrated by your students. Motivate children to "read more about it" with flannel board cutouts or intriguing dioramas. Team up books with story character puppets.
4. Meet Children's Changing Needs
A librarian can help you quickly find special books about requested topics. Keep certain books on hand to put out as "teachable moments" arise, such as A Baby's Coming to Your House! by Shelley Moore Thomas. Keep nature magazines and current catalogues in the book collection.
5. Have Regular Rotations
Exchange theme-related books with another teacher, or swap out books on a monthly basis. Make sure you always have a few copies of the children's old favorites on hand to be read again and again!
6. Add Crafty, Creative Experiences
Keep print-making materials (markers, pencils, crayons, and various types of paper) on a table in or near the classroom library. Encourage children to dictate, write, or draw their own books and design bookmarks for friends.
7. Visit a Community Book Center
Take a field trip to your local library, bookstore, or bookmobile. Add some of the special features the children liked about these environments (mobiles, little table lamps, padded benches).
8. Create a Librarian's Station
Encourage children to design their own library cards. Provide rubber date stamps and ink pads to add authenticity.
9. Personalize the Process
Use photos as bookmarks in library books so children can see who's reading the stories. Children can ask classmates for book reviews.
10. Seek Donations
Alert parents that you'll gladly accept used books in good condition. Children's magazines are always welcome.