Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Classroom Library

As I've said before, the classroom library is the focal point of my classroom.  It's my pride and joy.   The library is where the magic happens in first grade; it's where I give my first graders the gift of loving to read!  Today's post is all about how I manage the library.  It's in the form of a Q and A to help you understand my system.

Where did you get all those books?
Over the past 12 years, I've spent my own, hard-earned money buying ALL the books and containers for it.  MOST of the books were purchased from Scholastic Books or Half-Price Books.  I teach in a low-income school district and most months no one orders from the book orders I send home.  What I DO use Scholastic Books for is to order for myself!  I buy books, earn bonus points on my own order, and use said points to buy MORE books!  Kind of like double-dipping!

How do you organize your library?
My library is set up by theme...there are books about all sorts of things: ocean books, space books, favorite author books, non-fiction books, biographies, etc...I feel very strongly about not leveling my library.  I would never want to discourage a child from reading a book that's "not on their level." Kids learn to read by being exposed to ALL sorts of books {and a solid phonemic awareness!}.  Just because a child can't "read the words" of a book, he/she can absolutely "read the pictures!"  My library is organized using my "Basic Library Labels" set {I have other color options here, too!}. Each bin has a clear, easy-to-read laminated label on the outside.  Inside the bins are corresponding books with matching sticker labels inside the front cover.  This makes keeping the library organized so simple!

How many bins do you use in your library?
My library is pretty substantial {and it actually used to be even bigger!}.  I'll show you the before and after photos below.  This year, I wanted to scale it down a bit, so I removed all of my holiday books from the actual library and put them in a separate place.  As a holiday/event approaches, I will put out a special browsing box for those.  This has freed up a lot of room in my library.

Do you have your kids get books right when school starts?
I don't open my library the first few weeks of school.  Instead, I get a collection of back-to-school books, color, and number word books from the public library.  I put some in bins {enough for each table} and the kids quiet read from those.  I like to build anticipation with the classroom library!

Before I formally "open" the library, I explain how the books are organized.  I also make an anchor chart with my students about caring for the library.  This is an ESSENTIAL component!  Making the chart together gives the kids ownership in the library.  It makes them want to take pride in it and put the books where they belong.

After we've created the chart, I introduce a portion of the library; not the whole thing!  I tell the kids they have to show me that they can be responsible with the books before they are allowed to choose from all bins.  This helps ease us into it.  *There is a great Brain Pop Jr. video clip on choosing books that I also like to show before our first official "book shopping" day.

What system do you use for selecting books?
Everyone has their own Gallon Ziploc bag with their name on the front.  Each Friday, the kids go "book shopping."  They get to select 5 books to place in their bags.  The 5 they choose are the books they will read all week.  They are not allowed to exchange their books until Friday.  They are not allowed to trade books with friends, but they can let someone read a book for a day if they choose to.

When do your kids read the books?
My kids read their books during one of my Guided Reading groups.  I don't typically start GR until early October, so in August-September, I have a special block set up for reading time.  We start at 5 minutes and build our reading stamina until we get up to 25-30 minutes.

Hope this helps you get started!!!



Susan Yates said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

These labels look great! I taught 2nd grade for 14 years and last year switched to 1st...and, I love it. I'm ready to reorganize all my books by theme and this looks perfect. Can you tell me more about the "matching sticker" inside the books for refiling purposes. Thanks!

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