Building a Classroom Library. Together.

Unpacking our classroom library books every year overwhelms me a bit. It feels like it should eventually get easier, but so far that hasn’t happened. I want to unpack them and have them ready for the kids in meaningful ways.

Last year my students set up our classroom library. It was an investment in time and energy for all of us but it was worth it. They knew our books and our library exceptionally well and, as a result, our library was well used and loved. So we’re doing it again.

This year I decided that I wanted to wrap some boxes of books for kids to unwrap during the first week of school. I know teachers who do this, who wrap boxes of books and school supplies and things for kids to unwrap together to build excitement and joy. I’ve never done it. This year is the time. But I wanted each of those boxes to be strategically packed, not just to wrap them up as they were packed for the summer. As my 11 year old daughter said to her sister, “Did you hear what mom wants to do? She wants to put books in boxes randomly, but organized. She wants random organization in this!” She was clearly skeptical of the plan.

My goal is to have five boxes packed carefully and wrapped so that groups of four kids (or so, I don’t know how many students will be in my class this year) can each open one in the first five days. Each box has a mix of books, but not too wide a mix. There are fiction and nonfiction in every box. For example, one box might have lots of books about insects and outer space as well as Elephant and Piggie books, books by Kate Messner, and Star Wars books. A range, especially because within those groups (other than Elephant and Piggie) there is a range, but with enough similarities for students to begin noticing them a bit to prepare us for organizing the library.

I enlisted my 11 year old to do the decorating. Life is rough when you are a teacher’s kid.

She decided each box needed a theme and would be numbered in the order we should open them. This one’s theme is ‘thinking’.

This one’s theme is nature. I am a little in love with the tree made from a two.

This one’s theme is mythology as that’s a love of hers. She decorated three sides, included three realms: heaven, earth, and the underworld, as well as three gods and three goddesses.

She picked the original three gods and goddesses, even though those aren’t her favorites.

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