More on Working on More Them, Less Me

Before school started I wrote about having my students set up our classroom library rather than doing it myself. I knew it would be more time consuming and require a lot more effort, but I decided it would be worth it. It has been time consuming. It has required a lot of effort. And it’s been worth it. Not that we’re finished yet. But still worth it.

One of the things slowing us down is that my students are stopping and reading significant portions of books as they sort and they’re engaging in conversations with great excitement about the books they’re finding. The energy around books and reading in our classroom is astounding. I see it during independent reading but also when I read aloud or when I do book talks. When my students go to the school library they are rushing around trying to find certain authors or series or books. It is beautiful.

There are a few things I’m having to let go of in this process. One is wanting it all done now. The fact that we’re in the fifth week of school and still working on our classroom library is causing me some pain. I have to keep taking a metaphorical step back and looking at what is happening as readers every day.

One of the reasons I hesitated for many years about doing this was that I didn’t believe the students would organize the library the way I would. Of course they won’t. Also of course, they’re the ones using the library, not me. So I’m having to accept that they’re placing books in categories that don’t seem optimal to me. The library needs to work for them. They are creating it.

Of course, I do seem to have some lines in the sand I’m not willing to cross. I was moving one of the piles into a basket recently and found these four books. The category was Mysteries.

I understand why each of these books was placed into that category. And yet. I decided these required a conversation. If, after talking about these books with a little more depth and detail, the kids decided they belonged in Mysteries, that would happen. (I’d still cringe but I’d go with it.) Because it’s their library.


(I should have said this in the last post, but the title comes from one of Gary Stager‘s mottos: Less Us, More Them.)

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