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August 31, 2015

Students Recommend Favorite Books With Shelf Discovery

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    My classroom library is both a great source of pride and the bane of my existence! I love adding books to it, but I am not great at organizing it. I have read many articles and blog posts and have seen pictures of classroom library organization, but impeccable bookshelves with cute baskets and beautiful labels seem so out of reach.

    I was once asked to describe how my classroom library was organized. I jokingly answered, “I use the Hot Mess System where books are on the shelf, and kids find what they want to read by looking through all of them." That’s when I decided that my “system” needed organization. Whatever system I used however, kids discovering books was what I really wanted for my students. I formalized the process a bit and started calling my system Shelf Discovery (not to be confused with the book by the same name).

    Here is how it works:

    • Self-Selected ReadingMy books line the shelves with spines facing out, much like a public library.

    • I keep book series together and I work hard to keep themes together. For example, all my Pete the Cat books are together, and all my fire safety books are grouped together.

    • I place a large piece of paper (usually from the big bulletin board rolls of paper) on a classroom wall where students can reach it. I begin our Shelf Discovery experience by reading a starter book. (Any book can be a starter book — this is just the beginning of helping your students find their books and make text-to-text connections.)

    • Students pick books that are of high interest for them.

    • They tell me what book they read, and I make a copy of the book cover.

    • The student places the cover on the Shelf Discovery wall and writes how it connects to one of the surrounding books.

    A few printable examples of how Shelf Discovery may look at different grade levels are below.

    An Example of Shelf DiscoveryAn Example of Shelf DiscoveryAn Example of Shelf Discovery

    You could have students sign the wall when they add a book for an added buy-in, because this is a student wall that they build and use for reference. Once you have several book covers on the wall, students will begin using it to see what the other students in their classroom are reading. It becomes a, “If you like this book, then I may like this book,” scenario.

    close up view of Shelf DiscoveryTo sum it up, I’d like to share that I was lucky enough to hear the amazing Nell Duke speak earlier this year and one of the things that she said was, “The best advertisement for a book is a friend who says they love it.” That says it all.

    Let’s connect on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time!

    My classroom library is both a great source of pride and the bane of my existence! I love adding books to it, but I am not great at organizing it. I have read many articles and blog posts and have seen pictures of classroom library organization, but impeccable bookshelves with cute baskets and beautiful labels seem so out of reach.

    I was once asked to describe how my classroom library was organized. I jokingly answered, “I use the Hot Mess System where books are on the shelf, and kids find what they want to read by looking through all of them." That’s when I decided that my “system” needed organization. Whatever system I used however, kids discovering books was what I really wanted for my students. I formalized the process a bit and started calling my system Shelf Discovery (not to be confused with the book by the same name).

    Here is how it works:

    • Self-Selected ReadingMy books line the shelves with spines facing out, much like a public library.

    • I keep book series together and I work hard to keep themes together. For example, all my Pete the Cat books are together, and all my fire safety books are grouped together.

    • I place a large piece of paper (usually from the big bulletin board rolls of paper) on a classroom wall where students can reach it. I begin our Shelf Discovery experience by reading a starter book. (Any book can be a starter book — this is just the beginning of helping your students find their books and make text-to-text connections.)

    • Students pick books that are of high interest for them.

    • They tell me what book they read, and I make a copy of the book cover.

    • The student places the cover on the Shelf Discovery wall and writes how it connects to one of the surrounding books.

    A few printable examples of how Shelf Discovery may look at different grade levels are below.

    An Example of Shelf DiscoveryAn Example of Shelf DiscoveryAn Example of Shelf Discovery

    You could have students sign the wall when they add a book for an added buy-in, because this is a student wall that they build and use for reference. Once you have several book covers on the wall, students will begin using it to see what the other students in their classroom are reading. It becomes a, “If you like this book, then I may like this book,” scenario.

    close up view of Shelf DiscoveryTo sum it up, I’d like to share that I was lucky enough to hear the amazing Nell Duke speak earlier this year and one of the things that she said was, “The best advertisement for a book is a friend who says they love it.” That says it all.

    Let’s connect on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time!

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