Research clearly demonstrates that a robust, high-quality classroom library impacts student achievement. Students who have access to an extensive, exemplary classroom library read more, read more widely for a variety of purposes, demonstrate more positive attitudes toward reading, and score higher on standardized tests of reading achievement. In this way, students are more likely to achieve the goals of college and career readiness.  

Successful skill-building classroom libraries do the following:

  • Support literacy instruction.
  • Help students learn about books.
  • Provide a central location for classroom resources.
  • Provide opportunities for independent reading and curricular extensions.
  • Serve as a place for students to talk about and interact with books. 

Here are the 11 essentials every classroom library must have to be effective:

1. A minimum of 750 books in good condition.

2. Thirty books per student.

3. 30% of the books in your classroom library have been published in the last 3–5 years (at a minimum).

4. 5 new books per student are added to your classroom library each year.

5. 50–70% of your classroom library consists of nonfiction books.

6. 10% of your classroom library consists of reference books (at a minimum).

7. 25% of your classroom library consists of multicultural books (at a minimum).

8. The reading level of your classroom library expands to cover two to three years above and below grade level. (Here’s a handy link to book lists for every guided reading level.)

9. Multiple copies of popular titles and text sets appear in your classroom library so multiple students can read these at the same time.

10. A rich variety of genres is included in your classroom library so children are exposed to: realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction, biography and autobiography, stories, classicsmyths and legends, picture books, reference, poetry, comic books and graphic novels, and more.

11. Digital texts, ebooks, and multimedia such as interactive whiteboard technology.