|This is one section of a my classroom|
library which displayed favorite
characters. (This section was
developed with students after
the first day.)
The first days with our library are just the beginning. After the first days I'll want the students to grow the library. I'll want them to consider the books we need, the categories for our baskets, and the best locations for particular collections, but from the first moment they walk into the classroom I want them to know literature is valued here. In those first days I hope they'll discover books that will speak to them and see their reflection in the books that surround us each day.
Getting Our Library Started
In the first days, I hope my classroom library will say:
You're welcome here: As students sit down to read in the first days, I want them to be able to see themselves in our library. Over the years I've worked to include more diverse characters. Though possibilities for diverse characters are growing, it's still hard work to find titles with strong characters.
All readers matter: Working with young readers I want students to be able to come into the classroom and find a book they can read. If books are all too challenging, a child may begin to see himself or herself as someone who can't read. I want every basket of books to contain titles students will be able to read and enjoy. This means thinking about where students are coming in at the beginning of the year instead of where I expect them to be or where they will finish the year as readers.
I already know you: As I put my library together I consider titles students will remember from their previous year. As a first grade teacher, I knew students would come in knowing Mo Willems characters, having read Mrs. Wishy-Washy and Dan the Flying Man. I try to include books in our library I know students will remember from the previous year. I also try to consider topics I think students will be interested in reading more about at the beginning of the year. It seems I can't go wrong with books about pets, friends, and school in the first days.
Books are valued here: When students walk into the classroom I want them to feel surrounded by books. I place books around the room. This not only helps in the first days of workshop as students learn to spend time reading books, but it also sends the message the reading is valued here. My goal is for students to be able to sit most anywhere and reach a book.
We'll grow this together: The first days require a delicate balance. I want there to be enough books for students to get started reading, but I also want them to know we'll grow the library together. For this reason, I leave out empty baskets and save space on shelves for the titles our new learning community would like to add.
Come read with me: By arranging books in an appealing way our libraries will not only surround us, but will call to students. Front covers facing out, picture books featured in spaces and placed within reach, will invite readers to sit down and spend some time reading. Cozy spaces near book displays will also encourage students to pick up a book and read.
What do our classroom libraries say to young readers? Share images of your favorite library spaces at the hashtag #classroomlibrary.