Several years ago, as I was moving classrooms again, I noticed how many books I had tucked away in my teacher closet. Looking through these books I further noticed how many I just didn't get to read with my students. By the way, these were great books by amazing authors with fascinating stories to tell just sitting "safely" in my closet. They were books just waiting and begging to be plucked and shared. This is where my journey of rethinking and reorganizing my classroom library began.
Luckily as a newer teacher, my library was full of books. Most were random donations or books left over from my mother's classroom. But the reality is that the kids' books were in their area of the classroom and all of my shared reading and read aloud books were in my own area. The two did not intermingle much. At the time I would take a book out of my teacher's closet, read it or use it in a lesson, leave it out for student's to read for a short amount of time, and then tuck it back into my closet. Back safely away from sticky hands and sneezing noses. The very ones I was trying to teach.
What message was I sending to my students? Why wasn't I putting these books in the hands and hearts of my young readers? What was I afraid of? Is it because they might know what happens in the book before I read it with my unit in April? Was I afraid that my good books would get ruined?
I challenge that thinking with a quote I once read that put this in perspective for me. "There is no greater death for a book then to be read to death." (unknown)
My main goal behind my classroom library is that I want my students to see me using our class library. I want them to see me physically take a book from one of the baskets, read it or use it in a lesson, and place it right back. The message this modeling has given my students has made a huge difference. Not only are they learning the correct way to find and care for books, they are discovering that this part of our classroom is available to them and is important for our learning. Our library has become a hot spot in our classroom.
I encourage you to look through your teacher closet and see what books you can get out to your students. Every year I find more and more that get moved over to the classroom library for all to enjoy. After all what good are they doing closed up in my closet?
Please comment to share how your classroom library is organized and how that makes it a success in your classroom. Fresh ideas and thoughts about our blog are always encouraged and welcome!