Classroom Libraries ~ Check It Out!

Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Setting up a Classroom Library

The focal point of a classroom should be a classroom library.  Allowing students time for independent reading with self-selected book choice is essential in all classrooms today.  I have had classroom libraries set up in many ways over the years and I LOVE helping teachers create a reading area for their classroom.  There are books in "my classroom library." These books are kept separate because I know I'll use them for lessons, but after I share them, they can be placed in the library on a rotating basis.

First, find your buckets.

Using any coordinating dish pans from Wal-Mart or buckets from Dollar Tree organization relies on routine. As long as students know how to use your library, it doesn’t matter what container they are in. BUT, they have to understand the library. Labeled buckets with established routines will make clean-up easy. I have found students need a refresher on keeping the library straight about half-way through the year. 
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Second, sort your books.

Using the labels at the end of this blog or labels you’ve personally made, creating a variety of book choices is the key.  The labels are on 2x4 Avery 5163.  I printed the labels, put them on black construction paper 2 ½ x 4 ½ and laminated the labels.  I punched two holes in the label and attached the label to my basket.  Easy peasy lemon squeesy. I DO NOT believe in leveling a classroom library. Interest can't be leveled and keeping students away from books that aren't "their level" is just cruel. It could also turn an early and eager reader into a disgruntled reader. That being said, I kept a separate leveled library for student choice.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Third, find a place.

Depending on the size of your classroom, you will want to create a library that is inviting and welcoming.  One classroom didn’t allow for a full library to be available at all times, so I rotated the books according to the time of the year or the units we were studying.  There were reading buddies, beanbag chairs, and previously-read read alouds available. I also bought lounge cushions from our deck and the students were allowed to grab a "reading mat" and put them anywhere on the floor that didn't disturb other students. The whole idea of a library is provide lots of books with a comfortable space.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Fourth, teach your students how to USE the library.

If you have a filing system, make sure they use it.  If you have a check-out system, make sure they know it.  If you have book limit, make sure they count them.  They don’t KNOW how to take care of your library, if you don’t teach them.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Fifth, ask them what they want.

I’m always looking to add books to my library, but I want to add books they students want.  I know I’ve told you before…thrift stores are my favorite place for books, but also send a list of book subjects you are looking for in your class newsletter.  If parents know what you want, they may help you out.

I hope this helps you thinking about a classroom library.  If you'd like labels, CLICK HERE.

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Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

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