Classroom libraries, spaces to captivate readers
Classroom libraries, some classes have them, some teachers want them, and for a few learning environments, are either not fully utilised or are lower on the list of things to sort out.
For a new teacher arriving into a new class, a well stocked library is exciting, but can also be an overwhelming jumble of books to get to know, or even decide how you want to incorporate them into your teaching and learning environment, especially when you are becoming familiar with curriculum, systems, team dynamics and children.
Classroom libraries offer a multitude of ways to engage and captivate readers in your class, they give teachers and opportunity to communicate through characters and story, add a flair of personal reading interests, nudge readers into new genres and help those new to the habit to begin growing and seeing themselves as readers. We see the power a teacher has when they share a beloved read-aloud, now, multiply that passion you share through an armful of stories each year with a lovingly maintained classroom library.
Simply surrounding learners with 1000s of books should be enough to get them to love to read, however, less is is more and selecting and displaying books that respond to your readers interests helps to create excitement and enable readers to browse armed with selection strategies, choose their next read easier from your classroom library.
So, how do you quickly and easily begin making space for readers in your classroom library?
First of all, “weeding” is a term used widely in libraries to describe the process of evaluating and discarding titles from your collection using a set criteria that responds to the needs of your school and readers. The word “weeding” is similar to that of gardening, the aim is to remove books that may no longer grow readers and continue to motivating them to read or become life-long and self-directed readers.
Common weeding methods
Misleading: Look at the copyright dates
- Dated popular fiction
- Obsolete information
- Books containing racial, cultural or sexual stereotyping
Ugly: Refers to the physical condition of the book
- Antiquated appearance
- Worn-out, frayed, dirty
- Unable to mend
Superseded: There may be newer copies available.
- Duplicate copies
- Almanacs, yearbooks, encyclopedias superseded by newer editions
Trivial: Look for appropriateness for the collection.
- Check for poor writing, inaccurate information, an inappropriate interest or reading level for students.
Your collection: has no use for the book.
- It is irrelevant to your curriculum.
An additional way to evaluate your collection is to ask:
“Is my collection FRESH?”
What I love about the FRESH approach is that is elevates the need for diversity and representation of characters and stories.
Why does clearing out (weeding) makes sense?
Once you have a collection you are proud of, show it off! Where possible showing the covers of the books allow readers to be drawn in and browse the collection, whilst we don’t want to judge a book by its cover, we are inherently visual people. popular subscription channels have tiles for us to scroll through and the same should be done with our classroom libraries, highlight, celebrate, rotate, and bring out those themes you are currently teaching about. Displays don’t have to be fancy, a simple poster made in Canva, a basket to flick through, or a few bookstands make all the difference.
Get students involved
Consider having your class or group of students involved in this process,
- Can they help to identify old or damaged books?
- Can they help sort genres?
- Can they create signs?
- Can they research for titles they want to add?
What should I do with books I have weeded?
- Recycle any books that are damaged or misleading
- Ask your colleagues if they would like any of the books that might still be relevant and appealing to other readers
- Send appropriate books to your ES Librarian, we will find a home for them
- Donations. if the book doesn’t belong in your collection, is it good enough to be donated? We want to make sure that when books are donated they they are appealing and relevant to any reader, so pause to think before making this decision.
Ask an expert
Talk to your Librarian to support you through this process.