It's that time again: preparing your classroom, unpacking boxes of books, notebook paper, and students' journals, and of course, attending faculty meetings. I'm also hoping that you've been collecting books for your classroom library, as access to books is crucial for developing readers from K to 12. My eighth graders tell me that they love "having books at their fingertips." I couldn't agree more. Here are some tips for using your library to showcase books and advertise to students that reading is great fun!
- Organize books on your shelves by genre because that's the way students shop for books: fantasy, suspense, adventure, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography and autobiography, science fiction, informational texts, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, short stories, folk tales, etc. Tape an index card printed with the name of the genre onto the appropriate bookshelf.
- On each shelf, place one or two books with the cover facing out so students see the inviting illustrations and titles. Change these featured books each month and call students' attention to the changes.
- Feature a genre or author every six weeks. Place these books on your desk, on windowsills, on the chalkboard tray, and book talk one each day. A book talk can simply be reading the first two pages, or sharing the back cover matter with students. You don't have to read every book you add to your library. Challenge students to go on the author's web site and share information with the class.
- Have a sign-out notebook for students to complete: students write the title and their name when they check out a book. Students cross out the title when the book has been returned to its shelf or the specific place you've designated for returned books. Older students can put books back according to genre. It’s your choice, but I'm always looking for ways to save my time.
Classroom libraries mean your students can check out books any day; they don't have to wait for their scheduled library period.