Our ‘Finished’ Classroom Library

For the first six weeks of school we were working on our classroom library. I wrote about it early on and then again mid-way through the process. The images here were taken when we were nearing the end of our sorting of books. I say ‘nearing the end’ but the fact is we still have books we haven’t sorted and I think we’re finished with the set up. We aren’t finished with the library. That won’t be true until it’s packed up again in June. It will be a work in progress all year.

On Friday we ‘finalized’ the library as much as we will ever do. The kiddos made permanent signs for the baskets and my daughters laminated them and hung them yesterday on the teacher workday. (They have strong  feelings about what it means to be the kids of teachers…) Our nonfiction baskets all have yellow signs and our fiction baskets have white signs.

In the nonfiction area we tried to group things a bit. For example, the basket of Brad Meltzer’s I Am books (really Ordinary People Change the World, but my kiddos call them I Am books) is beside the basket of Famous People books. The baskets for Mammals books, Reptile and Amphibian books, Dinosaur books, Mixed Animal books, and such are all together.

In the fiction section we have all the baskets of books by certain authors together, then the baskets of books by series, and then the thematic baskets. The thematic baskets are my favorites because they vary every year. We have Princess books (I’m pretending that’s okay with me because it’s their library), Scary books, Books with Problems, Friend books, Mystery books, President books (which are mostly books about voting and being good citizens but they name the baskets), and more.

Our library stretches across a good half of our room. It’s clearly an important part of our space and our community. They planned it, they created it, they made it happen. Two kiddos are our librarians who check our library in the afternoons to be sure it is neat and organized. It’s usually a pretty easy job because the kiddos keep it surprisingly well taken care of. Well, maybe not too surprisingly because they own that space. They are invested in it.

The time we spent on making this happen was significant. There are many things we didn’t do while we did this. I have faith that this investment of time and energy will pay off all year. I have faith their ownership over our library makes them more engaged readers. I have faith this six weeks will play a role in them being life-long readers. I have faith it was totally worth it.

2 replies on “Our ‘Finished’ Classroom Library”

  1. Zac Chase says:

    It strikes me, also, as I read your closing comments on the things you didn’t do while setting up this library, you were investing every one of your students in the importance and place of a culture of literacy in your room. If students are going to see books – all books – as having value, then they need spaces to value them. What isn’t in this post, and what I would love to have listened in on, are the conversations students had as they organized the library. The, oh-that’s-my-favorites and the oooo-can-I-borrow-this-ones. I’ve no doubt your teacher self was gathering a tremendous amount of formative assessment data while organizing books and baskets and shelves.

    • jenorr says:

      Zac, one of the greatest joys, for me at least, as a teacher is that eavesdropping on students’ conversations. They ways they encourage each other, support each other, and stretch each other is beautiful and gives me such hope. One of my greatest flaws, sadly, is that I can never recall those conversations later. Some teachers can recite them back word for word and it is awesome. I can remember the basic idea and feeling and that’s it. It’s a skill I’d like to have.

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