Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Classroom Library

One of my goals for the summer is to come up with a new plan for my classroom library. In my opinion the classroom library is the heart of the reading teacher's classroom. A strong library is well organized, accessible to kids, includes a variety of genres, and is constantly updated. I am always thinking of ways to change things up in my library and keep it fresh.

This is the main part of my classroom library. Each of these baskets contains books from a series. Any time I get 3-5 books from a series, I make a new basket. It just makes it easier for the kids to find the books. I have collected so many series of books that I'm running out of baskets. I got these baskets at the dollar store several years ago and haven't seen them since. Now I need more of these baskets and can't find them! For series that are more popular (Geronimo Stilton, Goosebumps, My Weird School, the Fairies and Wimpy Kid come to mind) I use larger baskets. I may take the plunge this year and buy new baskets so that I know I have enough and they all match!

I also have a large collection of magazines. In the picture below the magazines are on the bottom two rows. I subscribe to Ranger Rick, OWL, Ask, Boys Life, Highlights, and Discovery Kids magazines. I also have old issues of Zoobooks, Discovery Girl, American Girl, and Sports Illustrated for Kids, so I have a LOT of magazines to choose from. I like the magazines to face out so the kids can see them. My problem is shelf space. If all my magazines face out they take up way too much room, so I've got to find a new solution. I am thinking about facing out just the newest copies and then putting the older issues in separate magazine boxes. You can cut down cereal boxes and decorate (hello, mod podge!) to save some money and make it look cute!


The rest of my library is arranged by genre. I have baskets for realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, poetry, biography, and others. I also have baskets for nonfiction. My problem with this set up is a nice one to have: as my collection of books has gotten larger, I have added baskets and need more space. Also, my nonfiction baskets are a hot mess. The kids just chunk the books in any basket they please. And that is totally on me - I need to label the baskets better so it is clear which books go in each basket. So my plan for this area is to totally reorganize the nonfiction baskets so they stay neat and "shoppable" throughout the year.

One thing that I do like to do is advertise or display books all around the room using picture easels. You can get these at Wal-Mart or Target in the picture frame section for $6-8. I like to put out picture books that I will be using for read aloud on display or books that I want kids to ask about. In the picture below I have two books out - one at the top corner of each bookshelf. My collection of easels grew throughout the year. I have books out everywhere.

So here's my plan for sprucing up my library next year:
redo baskets for series section
redo baskets for nonfiction and make the topic of each basket more narrow
make a separate nonfiction library area of the room
find something to use for displaying current magazines
make the area more interactive like adding a book recommendation board

What are your plans for your classroom library?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Our Best Books

We have one week of school left. As we wrap up the year, I have the kids think about all the work we've done this year. I ask them to think about the growth they have made as well as some of their favorites from the year. One of the things I ask the kids to do is choose a favorite book we've read this year. It's a hard thing to do! We read so many good books  this year that it was hard to narrow it down to just one. I had the kids quickly jot their answers down on a white board for me. This helps me make decisions about what books to include as read alouds next year. Take a look and see if there are any books you might like to try.

I don't stick to just picture books for read aloud. We started reading The One and Only Ivan and I dropped off about a fourth of the way into the story. I wanted to read just enough to get them hooked and the kids took it from there. It's easy to read a short part of a chapter book aloud as a way to get kids interested in a series or particular book. You'll see that some of the books in the list are chapter books instead of picture books.

Here are the books that are mentioned in the video. I'll try to include the author if I can remember!
The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate
The Hobbit
Whatever After  (a series by Sarah Mlynowski)
City Dog, Country Frog - Mo Willems
The Fire Within
Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman - Jerry Pinkney
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed - Mo Willems
Clever Jack Takes The Cake
Tikki Tikki Tembo
The Wump World - Bill Peet
The Doll People - illustrated by Brian Selznick
Ruth and the Green Book - Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Zita the Space Girl
The False Prince
The Curious Garden - Peter Brown
Each Kindness
Extra Yarn
Poop: An Unnatural History of the Unmentionable - Nicola Davies
Chowder - Peter Brown
The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder - Peter Brown
The Paper Bag Princess - Robert Munsch
Zombie Chasers (a series)
The Memory Coat
Robot Dreams - Sara Varon
Wings of Fire
Thea Stilton (a series)
Anansi the Spider - Gerald McDermott
Nicki (from the American Girl series)
Animorphs (a series)