Yesterday I wrote about our whole group gathering space, which is an important place in our classroom and one of the first to get planned. Another critical space and one that I carve out early is our classroom library. Helping my students find books they love and keeping them reading all year (and hopefully beyond) is one of my greatest goals and requires that I make sure we have spaces that support it.
This is the biggest area of our classroom library. Back in the corner, behind the stacks of chairs (many of which will leave our classroom as we don’t have a need for all those!) is an odd little corner. Two years ago I went on Craigs List and found a small ottoman like stool thing that fits perfectly there. It’s a great little reading nook for a kid. The table on the rug here is a place kids can work sitting on the floor. The shelves stretch from a small bookshelf (that can’t be seen behind the piles of chairs) nestled in the reading nook corner through these shelves under the window to the shelf coming out into the room. On the other side of that shelf is another one, sitting back to back with it.
On the far left side you can just see the two bookshelves, back to back, next to the desk. (The desk is there because sometimes students want a place where they can sit all by themselves to work so I try to ensure I have at least one desk by itself.) The shelves then stretch along under the window on this side as well, up to the couch. Between the bookshelf and the couch, where there are so many boxes right now, will be a rug.
Last year, that many bookshelves held almost all of our classroom library. These are pictures from last year (but you can see the little black stool thing and small bookshelf in the corner as last year’s room had that same little nook).
I loved our classroom library last year and, based on how engaged my kiddos were as readers, so did they. There are some things I’d like to do better with it this year, however.
- Highlight books and authors better. Last year I did a special, monthly display of a different author’s books but I never really did much beyond set it up. I’d like to continue it but really sell those books to the kids. I’d also like to find ways to bring attention to individual books or series at different points.
- The kids set up the library last year which was awesome. This year I’d like to take that a bit farther and have them really plan where different baskets belong. They did a pretty good job of keeping our library organized and looking good but being thoughtful about where baskets go can add to the usability of the library. We had all of fiction together and then nonfiction (mostly) together. I’m thinking now of similar authors having baskets beside one another or genres that might engage similar kids near one another. We had baskets last year of books about characters facing challenges, books about families, books about friends, books about monsters. We could think about how to organize these to make finding the books we’re interested in reading easier
- I want our library to develop throughout the year more. Last year we put out as many books as we could, organized them as we wished, and then went on. This year I’d like to put out some of the books, organize them, and enjoy them. Then, as the year continues, bring out more books to add. We can add new baskets, add them to already established baskets, whatever we want. I think it will allow us to get to know what we have better if it isn’t all thrown at us at once and it will keep our library feeling fresh all year.